The Cann Twins
December 5 2021
Royal Concert Hall, Nottingham
Review: William Ruff
A morning of musical delights – for those with a sweet tooth
The Cann twins (Claire and Antoinette) are as identical a pair as you’re ever likely to see. They are pianists who combine virtuosity with great charm and together they made good use of the RCH’s two Steinways. And just when you began to work out who was who, they swapped instruments, so casting doubt once again.
Their hour-long Sunday morning programme made a welcome pre-Christmas present, although you needed a sweet tooth for a menu which consisted largely of soft-centred confections. In fact, they started by inserting their thumbs and pulling out one of the most delicious musical plums of all: the ultra-romantic Variation 18 from Rachmaninov’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, given as lush a performance as you’re likely to hear. But then the tempo changed as Rimsky-Korsakov’s Flight of the Bumble Bee went buzzing with such synchronised precision between keyboards that telepathy seemed the only explanation.
Their arrangement of The Blue Danube Waltz by Johann Strauss II was inspired (they said) by the Tom and Jerry cartoon in which Tom miraculously learns to play the piano in less than five seconds. I imagine it took Claire and Antoinette a tad longer than that, but their version of the evergreen favourite seemed as fresh as the day it was written. Six Dances from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker came next, each one sharply etched and full of life. The Sugar Plum Fairy and her musical friends may be amongst the best-known classical pieces, but there was nothing routine about the Cann Twins’ performance.
The official programme ended with Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, one of those pieces which really can be said to have changed the course of music. Although we’re used to hearing it with orchestra, the two-piano version still packed a punch: lots of pizzazz as the world of jazz and classical fused together.
And that would have been that – except that the Canns had an encore up their sleeves in the form of The First Nowell, wittily presented in the style of Erik Satie. The audience left with smiles on their faces.
The Cann Twins
Claire Cann, piano
Antoinette Cann, piano