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Catherine Leonard violin Charles Owen piano
Blackheath Sundays Blackheath Halls 24 October 2004

Lutoslawski Partita
Debussy Sonata

Tchaikovsky Serenade Melancholique
Beethoven Sonata for piano & violin Op 12 No 3 in E flat
Kreisler Schön Rosemarin

This was a very distinguished recital by an Irish violinist, new to me, and her pianist partner. They hurled into the Lutoslawski and the audience took its modernism in their stride before being returned to more familiar territory. Catherine Leonard has the sort of technique that seems made for digital recording and broadcasting - no flaws that would demand re-takes. She looks good and has no mannerisms to distract concentration.

The week before, Rafael Wallfisch had reminded us that Dvorak had more than the concerto for cello; Catherine Leonard did the same service for Tchaikowsky, giving an airing to his Serenade Melancholique, which showcased her singing tone and easy rubato.

There was only one caveat; Charles Owen confessed afterwards that it had been a mistake to have kept the Bosendorfer's lid down; Catherine has a huge tone, able to hold her own with any piano, and in a much larger hall too. The Beethoven Sonata "for piano & violin" therefore gave a wrong impression, with the pianist sitting low behind what from the audience's perspective looked to be his 'soloist' and struggling to 'sparkle' in his passage-work, although he had far more notes requiring virtuoso skills (this is one of the issues treated by Susan Tomes in her essential book about chamber music, of which I am reminded frequently).

That apart, a hugely satisfying morning concert of just the right length. Catherine Leonard has recorded with Hugh Tinney a CD of music by Ian Wilson. Click on the link to hear her play.

Peter Grahame Woolf

Catherine Leonard and Hugh Tinney have released a fabulously excellent CD of Beethoven's Spring and Kreutzer Sonatas, with encores a Beethoven Rondo and Kreisler's Rondino based upon it [RTElyricfm 111].

These are performances to challenge, and certainly equal, any in the catalogues by more famous artists. Superb rapport and understanding by an established partnership of utmost sophistication and subtlety. It must rank high in anyone's comparative listings.

PGW (July 2007)