North York Moors Chamber Music Festival: Spring, Welburn Manor Marquee, August 19
ONCE again it was the ever-reliable, sweet-toned violin of Charlotte Scott that took the lead in this afternoon’s works, Beethoven’s ‘Spring’ Sonata, Op 24 in F, and Schumann’s Second Piano Trio, Op 80 in D.
Up to this point, the piano – a medium-size Steinway – had been the cause of several comments, mainly negative, about its tone. To these ears, it verged on the clangy; others thought it tinny.
Certainly James Baillieu, the admirable pianist here, had appeared to struggle to produce the kind of sound he wanted. But by now, something had changed, adjustments made no doubt, and the piano returned to something like mellowness.
F major has often been a key indicating the joys of nature, especially for Beethoven. Think of his Pastoral Symphony or the last string quartet. All that was here, in the nuances delivered by both players.
The exposition was given a full repeat, just as it should be (but isn’t always). The mood music continued in the daydream of an Adagio, with the violin tone now more intimate and the pair enjoying gentle dialogue in the third of its three variations. After the comic Scherzo, with the violin intentionally lagging a beat behind, the rondo found the pair in wonderful harness, melting teasingly back into repetitions of the theme.
They were joined by cellist Jamie Walton for the Schumann. The early tremolos in the strings became tempestuous, but clarity never suffered, even through the long acceleration into the final climax of the first movement.
The cello was the first to break out of the introspective ruminations of the slow movement and Baillieu’s piano became a little over-dramatic before the return of the theme. But there was a delightful ebb and flow as little motifs were tossed around in the succeeding dance. The finale was lent an attractive urgency by the lightness of the semiquavers in all three voices, as the counterpoint fizzed.
Smiles all round.
Review by Martin Dreyer