Monday 12th January 2015
Of the four pieces in Monday’s programme, three had never before been performed at ACMC concerts. I was not surprised to find two of the works listed as first ACMC performances since Prabhanda by John Mayer (first released on cassette in 1983 by Rohan and Druvi de Saram) and Bridging the Day (1998) by Sally Beamish, though not entirely new, are relatively recent compositions. I was surprised however to find that the Sonata in e minor op. 38 by Brahms was getting its very first Aberdeen Chamber Music Concerts outing on Monday evening – so we were doubly indebted to The Pavri Duo for four exceptionally fine performances – but also for bringing us up to date with three of the works on offer in tonight’s programme.
The Pavri Duo, like the Trüb-Brown Duo whom we heard at Saturday’s Lunchbreak Concert, also in the Cowdray Hall, are a husband and wife cello and piano duo although in this case the husband Fali is the pianist and the wife Naomi, the cellist. On Saturday, the Trüb-Brown Duo played the Second Cello and Piano Sonata by Brahms so I was particularly pleased to get a chance to hear the earlier Sonata so soon afterwards.
In the opening movement, the lower registers of the cello are highlighted and Naomi Pavri brought out all the rich dark warmth of tone from her instrument. There was a gentle pensiveness in much of the music that broadened out to more impassioned playing. The piano with a ringing lightness of touch often on its upper register gave lift and brightness to the music.
Each movement of this work comes as something of a surprise because the musical textures are so different. The second movement, Allegretto quasi Menuetto was jaunty and elegant with more than a touch of light hearted wit that you don’t often find in Brahms. The trio section had a slightly curious feel to it that allowed the return of the Menuetto to sound even more fantastically light and jaunty in this performance.
Another surprise lay in store for us when the fugue that exploded into the finale was so astonishingly powerful and forceful. What an amazing contrast with the pensiveness of the opening movement.
Five of the movements of John Mayer’s Prabhanda were introduced by Fali Pavri helping us especially to notice how the piano was able to suggest the drone of the tabla or the Indian drums in some of the movements. The cello certainly suggested the wonderfully soaring sinuousness of Indian vocal music but the overall impression I got was more of western style modern virtuoso work for cello and piano with perhaps just a touch of eastern flavouring. The audience reaction at the interval was all very positive.
Bridging the Day by Sally Beamish is like much of her music – very atmospheric. The programme note listed all the sections of the music and what they were meant to represent but I have to confess that at a first listening I got lost. I think I caught up with the bubbling brook and the Sundown but nevertheless I found the entire piece made thoroughly enjoyable listening both from the cello and the piano and I would certainly be up for hearing it again.
It was the final work in the programme that brought out the fantastic virtuosity of both players. There are very few composers who can allow both players in a duo to shine equally in the spotlight while at the same time blending perfectly together and especially in the first movement of his Sonata for cello and piano op.19, Rachmaninov does just that. This was definitely a sonata for cello AND piano not for cello with piano or piano with cello. There were moments especially in the first and third movements where the piano was allowed to go solo but for most of the work both players were at their finest and dazzled us equally with their most thrilling playing. I loved the second movement, Andante scherzando with the cello rejoicing in pizzicato and bouncing bow and the piano indulging in marvellous flights of fancy.
The slow movement was absolutely delicious and the finale alternating vivacity and sweeping melodic breadth was absolutely splendid.
Enthusiastic applause from Monday’s audience brought forth a most enjoyable encore in the form of a special arrangement for cello and piano of Bach’s Arioso from the Cantata BWN 156. Bravo!