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‘Wonderful – inspiring’; ‘An inspiration!’; ‘Sheku & Isata are stunning artists. Unbelievable that they are so young’; ‘Terrific’; ‘What an amazingly talented pair – WOW!’; ‘Amazing talent! Such intense poise and grace shown by these wonderful young musicians’; ‘Wonderful evening – and a privilege to enjoy such excellent music’; ‘What a fabulous treat. Absolutely stunning concert’; What a wonderful venue. One of the best concerts we’ve been to’; ‘The concert itself was phenomenal, beyond words really; it was such a treat to listen to the inaugural performance of that programme, and to be part of the early stages of what will doubtless be stellar careers for both Isata and Sheku. ‘
Review by Clive Davies
Banks of extra seating had been squeezed into the hall and a capacity audience waited with an almost palpable sense of excitement at the Outwood Academy. All was explained as the stage doors opened and the two soloists appeared for the last of this season’s recitals presented by the Scunthorpe and North Lincolnshire Concert Society.
Cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason, with his sister Isata, presented a programme of works for cello and piano that revealed a tapestry of musical sounds and a performance brimming with virtuosity and sensibility. The fame of these young prodigies had raced ahead of their visit to Scunthorpe. Sheku was the winner of the BBC Young Musician of the Year award in 2016; Isata has been a category finalist in the same competition in 2014. They have appeared on TV and Sheku’s recently released CD has even entered the best-selling charts.
As is well known, these remarkable siblings are from a family of seven children, in whom musical talent seems to run like a seam of gold. It was no surprise that a number of young persons – young musicians, perhaps – were among the audience.
They began their programme – the first time they had presented this group of works – with the Bach Sonata for Viola da Gamba in D, a piece where ribbons of harmony pass to and fro between cello and piano. Their performance of Beethoven’s Sonata in G minor Op 5 No 2 pulsed with vivacity and musical exuberance. Debussy’s distinctive and demanding Cello Sonata followed, a work calling for a variety of fiendish techniques on the part of the cellist and the closest attention by the pianist. Brahms’s Sonata No 2 in F ended the recital with a rich cascade of virtuosity and musicality.
The sustained applause at the end of the recital grew in volume and density and then became a standing ovation. The audience was loath to say goodbye to these gracious and extraordinarily gifted visitors.