Stories and Press Realeases

Robert Ibell and Douglas MewsDouglas Mews and Robert Ibell


A modern piano is an almost infinitely flexible instrument capable of playing loudly or softly, Bach to boogie-woogie, smooth jazz to rock 'n roll. The piano as we know it was developed from the "fortepiano" - an instrument which first emerged in the eighteenth century and was widely used until the early nineteenth century. This was the instrument for which Haydyn, Mozart and Beethoven in his early years wrote their music. And even though the fortepiano went out of use as the modern piano evolved, in much the same way as people gather to savour the charms of Model T Fords, an enthusiastic audience will gather in Paekakariki on 17 July to listen to a concert of early period music played on a vintage fortepiano by Douglas Mews and a historic cello played by Robert Ibell.

The concert is part of a nationwide tour called "Hammers and Horsehair" which will take the two musicians and their elderly instruments all over New Zealand in forthcoming months. Douglas and Robert will play works by Beethoven, Mozart, Romberg and Breval - music and instruments both dating from around the same period. The event is being presented as part of the 2016 series of concerts by Mulled Wine Concerts of Paekakariki, organised by Mary Gow.

"We're looking to create a special atmosphere," says Douglas. "We will play a piece and chat to the audience as if we were playing in their sitting-room at home. People will be able to hear the music much as it would have been heard by audiences when it was written two hundred years ago". The pair will also add to the period atmosphere by using vintage music stands, candle lights and costumes.

Douglas's piano was made in England by Broadwood in the early nineteenth century. It came to New Zealand over one hundred years ago and has lived in Wellington's Aro Valley ever since. Robert's cello was made in the eighteenth century, probably before Beethoven was born and came to NZ in 1940 with Greta Ostova, a Czech who escaped the Nazis to become a founder member of the National Orchestra (which became the NZSO). She passed it to her student and NZSO member Judith Hyatt who has handed it on to Robert. "It's pretty special to be the third generation of NZSO cellists to have this wonderful instrument and play it alongside an instrument with its own special history" says Robert.

Mary Gow is delighted to have this unusual and intriguing music as part of her Mulled Wine concert series. The concert will take place in Paekakariki's beautiful Memorial Hall on the sea front with its unrivalled views of Kapiti Island and special acoustic qualities which suit the old instruments really well. This Model T might well end up sounding better than an Aston Martin!

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