Photography: Adam Szabo

Intimate Sonatas feat. Katya Apekisheva

Manchester Collective @ Invisible Wind Factory 29/6/18

The industrial setting of Invisible Wind Factory with its large turbine and painted golden girder, juxtaposes with the intimate performance of Manchester Collective, comprising KATYA APEKISHEVA on piano and musical director RAKHI SINGH on violin. The rapt audience has a mean age considerably lower than that of a traditional classical concert. These are two of the components that make this evening different to expectations.

Sitting in the round with sunshine streaming in from the massive warehouse windows means there is nowhere for them to hide. Everything, including the inside of the grand piano as the lid is removed, is visible and it is this, along with the honesty about their music, which helps to deconstruct the mysteries of classical music and make it accessible for the uninitiated.

It is welcoming and a case of ‘Don’t know the titles of the pieces? It doesn’t matter. Feel more at home hidden in the darkness of a sweaty gig? Don’t worry, let us introduce you to the world of chamber music.’ Come on in, be our guest.

The metal Invisible Wind Factory sign turns hypnotically in the breeze above Singh and Apekisheva. Below there is a rug and large lamp more at home in a suburban sitting room which helps imbue the scene with a sense of domesticity: a neat visual metaphor of how Manchester Collective makes their music available to everyone.

RAKHI + KATYA Image 2

It is so up close and personal that it is possible to read the musical notes on Singh’s score. That perhaps some here can’t name the pieces performed doesn’t matter: Manchester Collective shows create a place where both novices and enthusiasts can enjoy and get lost in the performances.

Between the two parts of the concert, there is a Q&A session led by Manchester Collective’s Artistic Director, Adam Szabo, which raises interesting questions and provides honest answers: no, they hadn’t decided on the programme until the last minute. Yes, changes have been made, and, yes, the piano does sound a tad dodgy at times as a result of the humidity (to pretty much everyone in the audience it sounds beautiful throughout).

Singh and Apekisheva are charming and gracious in their explanations of the pieces chosen and the background to the music, recognising that not everyone has the same level of knowledge of the intricacies of classical music.

Singh explains it as a “journey”, smiling wryly as she acknowledges the clichéd term, showing it to be very much a work in progress. Both discuss their craft in an unassuming manner only possible by those with a world-class talent. And it is this talent and confidence which enable the original and imaginative choices: John Cale and Bach on the same programme, anyone?

Throughout the evening, their interpretations of the pieces are nuanced and their passion for the music is infectious. Playful, reflective and refreshing: this is classical music on a human scale. Not in the least bit stuffy, even on the hottest of days.

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