This year’s Maynardville Summer Season started on a divine note on Thursday night as a nearly full house was treated to Rachmaninoff Rendezvous: three works by the composer performed under the hypnotically swaying canopy of the open-air theatre.
Elna van der Merwe (piano), Babette Roosenschoon (cello), and Suzanne Martens (violin) opened proceedings with a gentle rendition of the Trio Élégiaque no. 1 in G minor(pleasingly accompanied by the sight of long-necked birds flapping silently overhead, and somewhat less pleasingly and much less silently by a number of unsettled cicadas).
The sound department deserves praise here, as this trio might easily have faded into the night air owing to the realities of the outdoor space; instead, while the strings were perhaps a fraction less sonorous than they would’ve been in a concert hall, the overall effect was surprisingly full and transportive.
Next up, the Sonata for Cello and Piano in G minor (op. 19)delighted the very appreciative crowd. Roosenschoon produced a truly remarkable sound throughout, and Van der Merwe was faultless.
The undisputed highlight of the evening came in the form of perennial favourite the Piano Concerto no. 2 (op. 18), performed by 17-year-old Mike Wang (with Van der Merwe expertly providing the rehearsal piano part in lieu of orchestral accompaniment). Wang’s sensitive, engrossing interpretation drew rapturous applause—and not only at the concerto’s conclusion, though one could hardly blame the audience for being enthusiastic.
If the evening’s entertainment is anything to go by, this year’s Summer Season promises to be a spectacular one. One note to the organisers, however; please consider policing the noises coming from the entertainment area outside to ensure the atmosphere remains conducive to the evening’s intended purpose. We’ll let the poor cicadas slide.
Next up as part of this year's enchanting Maynardville Open-Air Theatre festival line-up:
CAPE TOWN PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA: TIMELESS & IMMORTAL
19 – 21 January 2024
WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE’S ROMEO & JULIET
25 January – 24 February 2024
AN EVENING WITH CAPE TOWN OPERA
4 February 2024
A NIGHT AT THE MUSICALS
11 February 2024
FRIENDS IN HARMONY: A CHORAL CELEBRATION
25 February 2024
Tickets available for booking online through Quicket. And with so many food stalls at the park again this year as part of the festival vibe, why not make a night out of it!