Emma Johnson and friends

MICHAEL DRAKE Norfolk and Norwich Festival event at the John Innes Centre, Norwich Research Park


Serious though clarinettist Emma Johnson and her friends – pianist Martin Roscoe and cellist Moray Welsh – were with their music, it nevertheless reduced some of the more serious pressure of the day.

And throughout the whole programme there was a compatibility in the trio, with each taking precedence at the right moment but with no sign of intrusive domination – including the delightful Johnson-arranged Fauré Sicilienne encore. And for once even a "party piece" encore did not spoil the whole effect.

Debussy's Premiere Rhapsody subtly materialised until agitated bursts interjected in this piece written for clarinet examination and piano, while the following Cello Sonata in D minor, another innovative piece by the same composer, began wistfully, moving to almost grotesque pizzicato and finally with strong bowing over piano chords.

Turning to Fauré and the D minor Trio, all three artists weaved patterns of similar musical hues. While not the Fauré of the Requiem, the central movement was full of lyricism and in which, in a unison section, it was difficult to tonally separate the instruments.

And finally, the late Brahms favourite the Clarinet Trio in A minor, opening powerfully and followed by a mellow cello and clarinet duet with the latter setting a darker scene in the finale, intensity alternating with vigour – not exactly untypical Brahms to end a most friendly evening.