Elena Kats-Chernin & Tamara-Anna Cislowska

24 February 2018 7.45pm



Even before the Yass Music Club’s first concert of its Sapphire Jubilee Sixty Fifth Anniversary Celebrations began, Mother Nature prepared its audience for the special occasion to come by sending a dramatic rain storm which was duly greeted by enthusiastic applause, and which such applause continued as the miraculous presentation of Elena Kats-Chernin and Tamara-Anna Cislowska with ‘Four Hands on the Piano’, unfolded. The concert was presented to an almost Full House and was sponsored by The Wellness Centre of Yass whose support is much appreciated.
What a unique evening we had with two supremos of the pianoforte revelling in a program of great music composed by Elena, joined by Tamara-Anna in its presentation with unbounded skill and wit. The music was also wonderfully enhanced by the highly entertaining repartee between them and so much of what they said heightened its enjoyment with their anecdotes about the pieces they played.

One of the great tests of any entertainment is for it to appear to be seamless and the deceptive ease with which Elena and Tamara-Ann developed their performance proved the Oscar Wilde adage of “to reveal art and conceal the artist is art’s aim” and so, very much did they do it.
The pieces they played included the beautifully meditative ‘Eliza Aria’ with its balletic origins and the innocent purity of a faith in the good of the world, ‘Vocalise’ was supremely songlike with its reference to Rachmaninov and Tamara’s cheeky surmise of Elena’s distant relationship to him amused us, ‘Russian Toccata’ amused us, too, with Elena’s interesting experimentation on another great influence on her through Johann Sebastian Bach, ‘Butterflying’ was probably the most familiar piece to us as Elena had written it for the opening ceremony of 2003 Rugby World Cup and the dreamlike music of it flies with her imagination, ‘Lullaby for Nick’ also had a very special significance for Elena as it was the first piece she ever wrote and it came from her childhood in Russia and was a piece that she regularly had to play for visitors and Tamara joked this up with a few bars of a much more tranquil lullaby and ‘Absynthe Cocktail’ was also a delightful mix, as cocktails should be.

Their references to Eric Satie and his eccentricities were both amusing and sad through ‘Unsent Love Letters’, which had been written to Satie’s fantasy lover, Suzanne Valadon. After he died, friends gaining access to his apartment, for the first time in almost three decades, found conditions both perplexing and romantically fastidious in their own way: two grand pianos one atop the other, one chair, one table, seven velvet suits and the love letters – many, many unsent love letters. Sadly they were burnt by Suzanne and were never made public. Satie’s music also had a strong influence on Elena with his haunting Gymnopedies, one of which Tamara-Anna played. It was anecdotes like this which gave the concert such vitality and Elena’s exceptional creativity was delightfully revealed as Tamara-Ann shared a view of their concert worksheets showing the ‘work in progress’ elements of the extraordinarily creative Elena Kats-Chernin.


The occasion was also to present Dr RAG Holmes Scholarships and, after a lovely supper served by the Yass Hospital Auxiliary, six aspiring young musicians were introduced by our Scholarship Coordinator, Ros Whiteley to receive their Certificates and cheques from the President of Yass Rotary. The Rotary Club makes funds available to various organisations from the Glenlothian Educational Trust Fund and this is also much appreciated by the Yass Music Club. The 2018 recipients are Sarah Giddy, Grace Mather, Geena Elliott, Becky Wright, Niamh Kelly and Wendy Morton and we wish them well in their musical development and they’ll all be performing in a special Scholars’ Gold Coin Concert later in the year. The Yass Music Club President, Peter Crisp presented Elena and Tamara-Ann with a beautiful Crisp glass bowl especially engraved for each of them as a memory of their visit and which they very much appreciated as part of the Yass experience they’d so much enjoyed. The next concert will be on 14th April featuring Teddy Tahu Rhodes and it will be sponsored by the Holmes family and will be the centre piece of the celebrations with an emphasis on the theme of BLUE.

Submitted by Brian Millett.

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Tamara-Anna Cislowska is one of Australia’s most acclaimed and recognised pianists for both her solo and chamber performances, and winner of the 2015 ARIA award for ‘Best Classical Album’ for her recording Peter Sculthorpe: Complete Works for Solo Piano (ABC Classics). She has performed worldwide with repertoire spanning five centuries, and won international prizes in London, Italy and Greece, including the Rovere d’Oro.

Concerts in 2016 include a national tour with composer and pianist Elena Kats-Chernin to Melbourne Recital Centre, Sydney’s Concourse and Riverside Theatres, ANAM’s Australian Voices series, Musica Viva’s Huntington Festival, Arts in the Valley Festival (NSW) and Brisbane’s Music by the Sea, as resident artist for Darwin Festival 2016, two concert tours to Canberra, Sydney and Melbourne and France and a recording for the centenary of Australian composer Frederick Septimus Kelly, along with numerous solo recitals across the country.

Born in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, Elena Kats-Chernin studied music in Moscow, Sydney and Hanover.

She has created works across nearly every genre, from rags to ballet and operas, and from intimate compositions for piano, string trio and chamber ensembles to robotic instruments, and full-scale choir and symphony orchestra, from the world’s leading orchestras, opera, ballet and theatre companies and festivals.

The extraordinary reach of Kats-Chernin’s music spans the worlds of film and television also: Eliza Aria – from her score for Meryl Tankard’s ballet Wild Swans, commissioned by the Australian Ballet – was used in British bank, Lloyds TSB’s celebrated ad campaign ‘For The Journey’. Her Russian Rag was used in the claymation feature film, Mary and Max by Oscar-winning director Adam Elliot, and was also the theme for Late Night Live on ABC Radio National for many years (now, Eliza Aria).

Elena is currently writing for the Australian World Orchestra, The Flinders Quartet and the Australian Chamber Orchestra, and her music is published exclusively by Boosey & Hawkes / Bote und Bock.

ELENA KATS-CHERNIN composer/piano