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Beethoven and Brahms were in great company at recital

Beethoven and Brahms were in great company at recital

Beethoven Meets Brahms | St Mary-le-More, Wallingford | Saturday, January 27

PIANIST Anita D’Attellis’s second concert under the banner of “Winter Recitals, Wallingford” took place in the sympathetic surroundings of St-Mary-le-More church — a venue well suited to events of this kind, with each concert performed in the round.

While the first recital, “Great Russian Piano Trios”, was in the usual piano/violin/cello format, “Beethoven Meets Brahms” featured the less customary combination of piano, cello and clarinet — one trio for each composer — interspersed with duets.

This made for a satisfying, symmetrical programme in which D’Attellis was joined by Colette Salkeld (clarinet) and Paul Cox (cello).

The concert began with Beethoven’s Piano Trio in
B flat major
, Op 11. Nicknamed “Gassenhauer”, this roughly translates as a popular melody of the day — one that people would have hummed in the streets and which Beethoven introduced into this work.

Its lively first movement was followed by a sensitive Adagio that gave prominence to the cello.

Clarinet and cello also interacted sympathetically in prolonged duet sequences, where they complemented each other so well they were like mirror images.

As always, Ms D’Attellis was both the glue and driving force, with flawless technique and total awareness of musical direction, especially in the boisterous last movement. There was great balance and empathy throughout between all three players.

In Brahms’s Sonata for Clarinet and Piano in E flat major, Op 120, No 2, Colette Salkeld’s confident projection and rich lower register were the perfect counterpart to Brahms’s expansive compositional style, his hallmark cross-bar-line rhythms providing much of the forward momentum. Again, D’Attellis was equal to Brahms’s wide-stretched chords and thick texture.

Beethoven’s Cello Sonata No 2 in G minor, Op 5, No 2 continued this pattern of tours de force. The opening movement again presented technical tests for the piano, while Paul Cox was an intuitive partner, always alert to the piece’s nuances and producing some exquisite tone in its more reflective moments. The spirited final rondo was fast, powerful and passionate.

Returning to the trio, a gorgeous cello solo introduced the sumptuous first movement of Brahms’s Clarinet Trio in A minor, Op 114. This was again trademark Brahms, with judicious use of the cello’s lower register and luscious lyrical phrases shared between cello and clarinet.

Here Brahms exploited the tonal qualities of the clarinet and cello to great effect. The short Adagio, with its yearning questions and answers, was exquisite.

The evening was brought to a close by the trio’s final Allegro — gentle lyricism alternating with passionate interjections and ending with a real flourish.

Next in the series is “Bring on the Youth!” on Saturday, February 24, at 7.30pm. For full details and to book tickets, visit

Trevor Howell

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