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Beethoven, Rebecca Clarke, Franck & Schumann

Rebecca Clarke - Sonata for cello and piano Beethoven - Sonata no 1 in F op 5 no 1 Schumann - Adagio and Allegro for cello and piano Op 70 Franck - Sonata in A (arr Jules Delsart)

Raphael Wallfisch (cello) John York (piano)

King's Place 5 May 2013

It was a joy to hear these seasoned musicians having such fun in this concert.

Here is a duo who clearly have a great time together, forgiving and challenging each other in equal measure. For me this freedom stood out most of all in the Schumann - there was an intense conversation between the two instruments (Raphael didn't even need his glasses), engaging moments of stillness, and some masterful ensemble playing.

Other than the Beethoven, this programme was all arrangements - surprising, given the wealth of repertoire written specifically for cello. Yet I was left thinking that the original instruments (viola for the Clarke, horn for the Schumann and violin for the Franck) are in some ways inadequate for the music: in each piece the cello brought out a depth and grandeur that would be hard to match on a smaller instrument.

The Clarke was electric. John York drew out luscious harmonies, and the second movement (reminiscent of Debussy's Le Danse de Puck, or Ravel's Pantoum from his piano trio) was whisked off with great panache.

Beethoven never lets us forget that the composer was a pianist first and foremost. A pity that the exposition wasn't repeated - I would have enjoyed listening to it again. The Franck had a refreshingly light touch, a silvery quality, so that the cello was not overpowered by fistfuls of notes. Even though the end of the last movement was more of a piano concerto than a duet, it was brought off with great delight. John York's playing invited us to listen intently to every sound, making an inspiring partner for Wallfisch.

All in all an enjoyable evening.

Clare Simmonds

Rubbra, Fauré & Franck

Rubbra Cello Sonata in G minor
Fauré Cello Sonata No.1 in D minor, Op. 109

Alan Mills Song & Dance for solo cello world premiere
Franck/Delsart) Sonata in A

Raphael Wallfisch cello
John York piano

Kings Place, London 9 January 2011

Sunday early evening chamber music concerts run in tandem at Kings Place and at Conway Hall, the London Chamber Music Society's former home.

Wallfisch-York is a well established duo which we have been privileged to review over the years, live and on disc. Indefatigable recording musicians, both players have enviable techniqe and stamina, required for this enterprising programme, a change from the standard fare which tends to dominate music schedules.

The Rubbra sonata is typically individual and thorough in its contrapuntal working out; its recent revival has confirmed its stature. Fauré to follow was daring; it requires great concentration from players and listeners alike, and attracts with the dislocated rhythms which give its particular flavour. The high spot of the evning.

Mills was inspired by an outdoor cello recital in Epping Forest; his small piece for solo cello received an easy welcome and would sound well there too! No modernist tricks or extended techniques, nice to hear and quickly forgotten...

The Franck can go well for cello and Wallfisch retained remarkable control throughout, but on this occasion but York, whose piano had a plethora of notes to deliver in all the sonatas, seemed to tire, with a suspicion of rather autopilot piano playing, relying on his experience and reading skills. The pedalling was not quite refined enough for best effect in a flattering yet treacherous ambience.

Peter Grahame Woolf

See also FribbinsChambermusic

& C.P.E.BachCelloConcertos/Chopin