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14th April 2019: Wallis Power and friends

A joyous tea-time concert, in which cellist Wallis Power was joined by Maja Horvat (violin) and Craig White (piano) in a run-through of her RCM Master's Recital.  And what great music they brought us!

 

Chopin's late sonata for cello and piano was new to me, and it's the kind of work that makes you wonder why it's not more often played.  As you might expect, the writing for piano is demanding and Craig was certainly up to the challenge, while the lovely third movement in particular showed off the sumptous tone of Wallis' cello.  While the first movement is full of romantic passion and storminess, the sonata seems to move steadily towards the light and the final allegro rounds it off in a mood that is surprisingly happy, given the composer's failing health.

 

Coming practically up to date, Huw Watkins' Prelude for solo cello (2007) gave Wallis an opportunity to shine technically.  Introducing it, she said the work draws inspiration from Bach's cello suites and that is certainly noticeable, particularly in the contrast between running melodic lines and double-stopped chords.  The spirit of Bach brought firmly into the 21st Century!

 

The final programmed piece took us back a century, to Ravel's sonata for violin and cello written in 1920-22.  Wallis was joined for this by Maja whose muscular violin-playing was a perfect foil for Wallis's more lyrical style.  In contrast to  the Chopin, this is a work that seems infused with pain and doubt.  The final movement, simply marked 'vif', is no happy knees-up but suggestive of a totentanz or dance macabre. Terrific stuff, magnificently played!

 

The recital concluded with a generous encore, bringing all three players together in a movement from Mendelssohn's first piano trio.  We hope very much to get these fine young musicians back again at a future date.  Meanwhile, good luck to Wallis (not that she needs it!) in her final exam performance.

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