Chamber Music at the Weekend

Chamber Music had a small turn out in beautiful St Nicholas’ Church. There was plenty of pew space in which to find the perfect view of the performers. I sat to the left to watch the pianist’s hands. Aglaia Tarantino had flashy fingers but, luckily, was not given to distracting convulsions of musical passion. Paul Silverstone swayed elegantly in harmony with his viola. Together, in black and white, they looked the epitome of chamber musicians. Aglaia and Silverstone both work for the Royal Academy of Music in London and with their impressive CVs, were surely deserving of a larger audience.

The pews were feeling the grip of fingernails, until a soft Debussy duvet of pedalled notes calmed us again.

In the first half we heard Clarke, Debussy and Hindemith. Clarke’s Morpheus was daringly dissonant and built tension. The pews were feeling the grip of fingernails, until a soft Debussy duvet of pedalled notes calmed us again. Tarantino had a feel for crescendos. She built up layers of sound before leaving them hanging from the rafters. Silverthorne’s used a leather mute to condition the strings for each piece. The next piece, Hindemith’s Sonata Op 82, initially provided relief from Debussy’s dissonances. Then came its transition into an angry, aggressive piece; in places, the viola part could have been described as schizophrenic. Tarantino’s page-turning was forceful to say the least. The pages were bent in the corners from her rough handling and no longer sitting flat on the music stand. The piano could be seen to shake on a couple of occasions, as Tarantino’s ten fingers and two feet were put to maximum use.

After having played mostly single line melodies, the Elgar and Bartok in the second half demonstrated Silverstone’s aptitude playing chords. Silverstone played the rolling arpeggios of the Elgar beautifully, and they came across as waves. As the waves broke, so did one of Silverstone’s bowstrings, a sign that the instrument was pushed to its limits. Bartok’s Romanian Folk Dances began with chugging bass, but the moody essence of Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet Overture soon dissipated into oriental mystery. The end of the piece had something of wild horses, the galloping rhythm speeding up to the finale.

The somewhat coterie audience, mostly followers of MOOT (Music of our Time) were a lucky lot. We enjoyed a thoroughly engaging, professional performance.

Reviews by Felicity Harris

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The Blurb

MAY 10: Frank Bridge, Composer and Pacifist - The Ireland Trio plays music by Brighton-born composer Frank Bridge & John Ireland; MAY 23: Proof Through The Night - LSO Principal Viola Paul Silverthorne and pianist Aglaia Tarantino play Rebecca Clarke, Joseph Jongen, Bartok, Elgar, Debussy, Hindemith; MAY 24: The Land of Lost Content - Songs by Butterworth, Finzi, Gurney, Ireland and Quilter; MAY 30: Music and the War Poets - Vaughan Williams’ ‘The Lark Ascending’ and music by Bridge, Elgar & Ravel. Part of 'Sounds of War - Instruments of Peace’ series.