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Brighton Year-Round 2019

Riya and Berniya Hamie Cello and Piano Recital

Riya and Bernaya Hamie

Genre: Live Music, Music

Venue: Chapel Royal, North Road, Brighton


Low Down

Riya and Berniya Hamie play one Cello and Piano work, Chopin’s Op 3 Polonaise. Thereafter Berniya played the firt movement of Prokofiev’s Sonata in A major Op 82, Beethoven’s Op 78 Sonata in F sharp major and Chopin’s Etude in E minor Op 25/5 and Andante spianato et grande polonaise brillante in E-flat major, Op. 22.


Riya and Berniya Hamie are a cellist and pianist a few years apart. Riya’s still at school and played just one piece with her sister, and the rest of the recital was Berniya’s alone on the piano. Bernaya’s at the Royal College of Music.

Riya’s work was Chopin’s Polonaise Brilliante in open, bright C major, Op 3 a work with exposed high lines Riya negotiated with particular aplomb. Being a Polonaise the work has a bounce and strutting exuberance that’s infectious. Riya owns a clean line and a burgeoning lower sonority; her individuality in this piece was enshrined with the way she pushed that high register. Berniya’s a fine Chopin player and here supports her sister with firm brilliance. It’s to be hoped Riya will return with a fuller programme.

Berniya’s recital began with Prokofiev Piano Sonata in A major Op 82 from 1939-40, the first of the ‘War Sonatas’ though written before the Soviet union was brought in.

It’s a massive sardonic march-like movement with truculent high chords and glissandi underscoring the heavy tread and sudden stalking bass motifs and sudden trills. Berniya’s wholly secure after a few early moments of splash and magnificent explosion. What’s striking is her command of this idiom her clean delivery of it for the rest of the work and a sense of power reined in. And command of Prokofiev’s terraced idiom. Bernaya enjoys the sudden forays into other tonal territory too and relishes the clashing tonalities. It’s close to that in the ‘Montagues and Capulets’ in Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet Ballet of 1937.

A complete change in sonority and scale followed, and surprisingly from Beethoven. His Piano Sonata No. 24 in F sharp major, Op 78 is his first since the Appassionata. The legato feel of the opening movement is a world away from Prokofiev’s rebarbative lyricism. There’s pellucid textures and limpid but subtly compressed development. It sounds deceptively relaxed and Berniya maintains a remarkable quiet tension yet radiates the work’s joyousness and serenity. The allegro finale ripples and again Bernaya applies the right gentle pressure to Beethoven’s musical language. There’s a sense of arrival rather than the dramatic climax of say its predecessor.

Berniya’s Chopin is both clean and exuberant. Her choice of the E minor Op 25/5 Butterfly Prelude with its fiendish cross-rhythms and crunchy chords pushes her own technique to denser, challenging sonorities and she triumphs in this too, despite the occasionally thick overlay. Finally Chopin’s virtuosic Andante spianato et grande polonaise brillante in E-flat major, Op. 22 rather sums itself up in its lengthy title. The Polonaise with its aristocratic poise and sheer prance underlies the rhythms and Berniya brings this out with the trilling ‘spianato’ and ‘brilliante’ helped by E flat’s ceremonial trumpeting. There’s terrific bounce again and in this more display-oriented piece Berniya again reminds us of her Chopin credentials.

It’d be wonderful to hear Berniya essay more of that profundity we hear in the Beethoven and indeed in the bleaker reaches of Prokofiev’s slow movements. Clearly she’s also going to develop into a Chopin player of stature and it’ll be thrilling to see what she plays next.

These sisters comprise two of a rising new generation. We’re privileged the Chapel Royal concerts attract so many of them.