At the beginning of our 2014/15 series, in the short statement about each Soirée, I wrote, “this dynamic and charismatic duo have irresistible musical and personality charms with so much to offer to the audience”. And I was right! It was a spellbinding experience in all aspects; the selection of the pieces (the coupling Variations on an operatic theme and a grand Sonata from the Romantic era in each half was very wise and exciting), the truly moving performance, the sounds, the atmosphere they created, the excitement poured out by the duo and received fully by the audience, the intimacy…..
From the first note of the first piece, Beethoven’s first variations, the duo captured our heart. The variations, based on a theme from Mozart’s opera A Magic Flute, lifted our spirits up with its dancing and singing features.
Then, what a contrast they brought with the Brahms E minor Sonata. The expressive and heart twisting first movement, which made you imagine the composer’s struggling state of mind, could not be more beautiful.
Martinu’s Variations on a theme of Rossini were an absolute delight. It was thrilling and exciting, and the duo made it into a complete show. The programme notes suggested that it required a particularly challenging bowing technique, but Thomas did everything with such ease that we just appreciated the marvellous music.
And then Rachmaninov’s Sonata – the last of his chamber works. I loved all the movements but there was nothing more moving than the amazingly beautiful third. They took us through a whole journey from the turmoil of the first movement till the triumphant last movement, experiencing one emotional wave after another. What a musical journey, of heart and soul.
Thomas and Tony have been performing together for quite some years (they said they have performed the Rachmaninov 67 – 70 times!), and there certainly was a huge benefit of having experienced musicians with matured musicality. All musical dialogues tossed and received between the two instruments were spontaneous and timely with carefree dynamics and abundant emotional tides. No clumsiness and hesitation in their performance, the music was glorious throughout. Their informal talks about each piece added another pleasurable feather to the concert.
Both musicians really appreciated the opportunity to perform at Breinton, which did Breinton proud. They commented that the Brahms Sonata was composed to be performed in an intimate atmosphere, exactly like that of Breinton. Tony mentioned that Rachmaninov, having fallen into deep depression after being criticised for the Second Piano Concerto and having spent three years writing almost nothing, composed this beautiful Sonata for Cello and Piano in a house looking over a tree, not dissimilar to Breinton! They also complimented the acoustic of the room being wonderful. Both Tony and Thomas produced significant volume of sounds, but somehow they fit in perfectly into our space, entertaining the audience’s ears.
Bonus encore pieces were 2nd movement Allegro from Shostakovich’s Cello Sonata and 1st movement from Schumann’s Fantasiestücke.
We all agreed that every Breinton recital was special and best in its own right. The concert by Thomas and Tony was yet another best which will be remembered by us for a long time.