Clare O’Connell and Natasa Lipovesk

CHRISTOPHER SMITH John Innes Centre, Norwich Research Park, Colney

CHRISTOPHER SMITH

> John Innes Centre, Norwich Research Park, Colney

The Paul Cross Memorial Concert, presented by the Novi Sad Association, attracted a large audience for a programme that was a delight almost from beginning to end. Though the opening Bach Sonata was played efficiently and neatly, there was a problem with balance.

Cellist Clare O'Connell did not do quite enough to assert her individuality, while pianist Natasa Lipovsek could not resist the temptation of being just that crucial bit too heavy handed.

The duo made a far better impression in a pair of entertaining pieces of a romantic character. The first was a fairytale by Janacek, the other an instrumental ballad by the pianist's grandfather. In both, careful attention to dynamics brought out vivid contrasts in emotional mood painting.

Two works by Chopin suited them especially well. One of his earliest works, his Brilliant Polonaise was interpreted with exuberance.

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The two performers put their very best into the mature and substantial G minor Sonata that the Polish composer completed shortly before his death. Ideally the cellist should at times have been a little stronger and dominant in her upper register, but the overall effect was particularly pleasing. After the emotional complexities of the first movement, the Scherzo was almost boisterous in its relaxed good humour, and in the Largo no opportunity was missed of bringing out mellow tone.

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