Cello on Fire at theSpaceTriplex featuring Viennese cellist Peter Hudler is one of those little gems of The Fringe that you hope to find amongst the vast and varied amount of performances that are out there. If you see one of the posters for this show around town, or perhaps one of the flyers, and think “Classical music”, maybe not for me, then be prepared to put any pre-conceptions of what a cello can sound like to one side and be prepared to let Peter Hudler re-define this instrument for you.
As a musician, Peter Hudler is obviously very skilled and his reputation as a Cello and Chamber musician is obviously deserved and this show’s repertoire gives some idea of the technical skill level, both obvious and subtle, that he has achieved. What makes this show special though is the diverse range of musical arrangements and styles that Peter is playing here as we shift in and out of classical, rock, jazz, flamenco, baroque, blue-grass and other styles with seamless ease. The opening music “Stonehenge” (Peter Pejtsik) would not be out of place on guitar in any rock arena and a visit to the very special music of Jazz legend John Zorn with “Zawar” clearly let everyone in the audience know that being part of an orchestra, chamber music group, or stringed ensemble is only a small part of what a cello is capable of in the hands of a musician like Peter Hudler.
Possibly for many people in the audience, one of those re-defining moment was Dancing for D by Dutch cellist and composer Ernst Reijseger. If you think that a cello needs to be played upright and with a bow, then think again. Watching Peter essentially turn his cello into a fretless bass guitar was one of the highlights of this show for me.
What makes “Cello on Fire” such a good show (apart from the music) is Peter Hudler himself. Here is a musician who obviously has not only an affinity with his instrument of choice, but also gets enormous pleasure from the music he is performing, and that pleasure is shared with his audience. Taking the time out before each piece with a very gentle, but informative, manner to introduce us briefly to it and its composer added so much to this show too.
Venue performance spaces at The Fringe are often sometimes less than perfect for their particular show, but this space was an exception to that and fitted the musical performance well. I was not 100% sure of the choice to use electronic amplification here, but I am sure that Peter Hudler had given this a lot of thought and decided for many reasons why to use it here.
Cello on Fire
theSpaceTriplex The Prince Phillip Building
Group: Peter Hudler
Review by Tom King