Opening a new season after a long summer break is always makes for one exciting event. Our members’ thirst for good music builds up during the summer and they patiently wait for the start of the new concert season. This year, we welcomed violinist Tamsin Waley-Cohen and pianist Huw Watkins to launch our 2015/16 series.
In every sense it was a true chamber music experience. Tamsin’s violin and Huw’s piano were inseparable, and they drew the audience into their music making. The musicians were not trying hard to impress, but naturally pouring out their sounds onto us, integrating the audience into the performance. Their sounds were certainly influential. For instance, in Debussy’s Sonata, every nuance and subtlety, particularly that of the violin, were clearly heard. I think this is one of the most exciting pieces in the repertoire for violin and piano, and their version this evening was one of the best I’ve heard.
Prior to the Debussy Sonata, we heard Schubert’s Duo Sonata in A. Tamsin’s simple but expressive tone shone out and was a perfect match with Huw’s piano playing. This was when I fell in love with our Yamaha piano once again! Huw was one who understood the instrument and extracted the best out of it – his tone was warm, his sounds exceptionally agreeable.
Clara Schumann’s Three Romances were an absolute delight. The gems of the evening, Tamsin and Huw showed the utmost romanticism. One sweet moment followed another – Tamsin’s flawless violin and Huw’s full-flavoured piano left us at ease.
Then, Szymanowski’s Sonata was such a contrast to the Schumann we previously heard. It was youthful and dynamic, and at the same time so rich in sounds. Tamsin showed the really bold side of her playing – some of the powerful lower register notes were shockingly effective.
They concluded the evening with an encore, Valse from Sibelius’ Five Pieces. What a heavenly melodic beauty to finish the evening with.
- SCHUBERT: Duo Sonata in A major, Op. 167 D. 574
- DEBUSSY: Violin Sonata in G minor, L.140
- SCHUMANN, C: Three Romances, for Violin & Piano
- SZYMANOWSKI: Violin Sonata in D Minor, Op. 9
Described by The Times as a violinist “who held us rapt in daring and undaunted performances” and by The Guardian as a performer of “fearless intensity”, Tamsin Waley-Cohen enjoys an adventurous and varied career. In addition to performances with orchestras including the RPO, LPO and BBC orchestras, and conductors including Andrew Litton and Tamas Vasary, she continues her association with Orchestra of the Swan, returning as “Artist in Residence” next season. Performances have taken her across the UK, Europe, to the USA and the Antipodes.
"What an amazing musician Huw Watkins is, this unfailingly dependable and musical pianist who seems to be everywhere. If he caught a cold most of Britain’s summer festival season would collapse." - The Telegraph
Huw Watkins was born in Wales in 1976. He studied piano with Peter Lawson at Chetham’s School of Music and composition with Robin Holloway, Alexander Goehr and Julian Anderson at Cambridge and the Royal College of Music. In 2001 he was awarded the Constant and Kit Lambert Junior Fellowship at the Royal College of Music, he now teaches composition at the Royal Academy of Music.