The generous acoustic of St Andrew's Church, Fontmell Magna was filled on Friday evening with the delectable sounds of violin and piano played by the renowned duo of Gisele Boll and Colin Howard. The concert was in memory of Rosalind Richards of Springhead, with whom Colin used to play chamber music. From the baroque counterpoint of J.S. Bach to the tintabullation of Arvo Pärt, the programme ranged widely over the rich fields of European classical music, encompassing works by Dvoràk, De Falla, Fauré, Mozart and Stravinsky.
The heart of Gisele's and Colin's generous programme could be said to have been the Estonian composer Arvo Pärt's Fratres, positioned at the start of the second half of the evening. At times softly reflective, yet prayerful, and in places searingly austere and even primaeval - in the louder dynamic outbursts - the ambience of this deceptively simple music was ably conveyed by the performers, who maintained the stately tread of the pulse with deep understanding. A performance that was overall rich in musical integrity and tonal variety.
29 September 2018
Bach's dance-inspired Sonata - how spiritual is this composer in this most profound key of B minor - set the evening's concert in motion, in which the performers took a while to settle, although the reticence of the first movement was an effective foil to the greater ebullience of the fast, second movement. Here and in Stravinsky's angular, energetic and inventive Suite Italienne (based on music from the composer's Pergolesi-inspired ballet Pulcinella) the players displayed a penchant for hair-raising Allegro speeds that worked well in the clean acoustic, even if they left the listener breathless at times, notably in the final Allegro of the Bach and at the close of the Tarantella of the Stravinsky. Mozart's early Sonata K.305 enabled these well-matched musicians to capitalise on their instinctive ensemble in the conversation provided by the maverick genius of Salzburg (Mozart was equally at home on both piano and violin). Their rapport in the second movement was particularly telling in the dialogue of the penultimate variation. De Falla's richly evocative arrangements of his own Spanish songs afforded the players the opportunity to exploit on the one hand the intense, yearning sense of loss characterised in Asturiana and, on the other, the flamenco fuelled passion of the Jota and Polo, the church's agèd yet worthy Broadwood piano standing in for the guitar at several points. A particular feature of this Duo's musicality is displayed through their ability to play softly: there were some magical pp moments in the Fauré and De Falla.
Barry Roberts, September 2018