SPANN concert series

MICHAEL DRAKE Holkham Hall

MICHAEL DRAKE

> Holkham Hall

Not the most frequently heard musical combination, the piano, violin and horn trio of artists made a big impact in this Arts in North Norfolk series concert on Saturday evening.

The three came together in an illuminating performance of Brahms's Horn Trio in E flat in which, after a sensuous opening, Richard Watkins's horn playing became quite languid with crafted phrasing among the often more robust piano and violin colouring of Julius Drake and Catherine Leonard.

The dashingly tuneful Scherzo was played with a swagger and was followed by a slow movement of ethereal quality containing a violin/horn duet of beautiful intensity – the musical equivalent of being “joined at the hip” – before a flamboyant finale.

Chamber music has a dearth of compositions including horn but earlier, Beethoven's “Sonata for pianoforte with the accompaniment of horn” reverberated around the hall, the warm calls of the horn (although sometimes overpowering the keyboard) being mostly in thoughtful balance with the powerful piano score and overall gaining high marks for artistic merit.

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High tension then came in Janacek's Violin Sonata with a passion coming from the inner strength of Catherine Leonard. She made the Ballada pleadingly romantic while the piano wove sure foundations.

The work's ending came abruptly and such was the emotional pull that the listener was unprepared for it. It had all been music of the highest quality.

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