The Diverse Insights of the Watkins Duo Brought Individual Life to the Music

21/11/2017

Scott, Delius, Fauré, Webern, Debussy and Bridge: Paul Watkins (cello), Huw Watkins (piano), Samuel West (narrator), Hall One, Kings Place, London, 19.11.2017 (AS)

ScottPastoral and Reel
Delius – Cello Sonata
Fauré – Cello Sonata No.1 in D minor, Op.109
Webern – Cello Sonata, Op.posth
Debussy – Cello Sonata
Bridge – Cello Sonata in D minor, H125

In its variety of content this was an intriguing looking programme in prospect, and it proved to be a rewarding experience, especially since none of works played except the Debussy are heard very frequently in live performance. The programme’s title was ‘First World War: Channel Crossings’ and all the items save one were indeed written during that war. The odd man out was Cyril Scott, whose Pastoral and Reel of 1926 still perhaps reflected the experience of the conflict through the unsettled, uneasy mood that lurked underneath the somewhat forced jollity of the ‘Reel’, in particular.

Between musical items Samuel West read war poems and contemporary letters written by some of the composers. Delius’s description of having to flee his Grez-sur-Loing home temporarily in the company of thousands of refugees as German forces advanced was particularly evocative. This reading preceded a performance of the composer’s Cello Sonata of 1915. Here the Watkins duo eschewed rhetorical gestures, and allowed the work’s delicate emotions to blossom through the use of gentle legato and highly sensitive phrasing.

Fauré’s Cello Sonata No.1 was also played with appropriate restraint, of a Gallic nature this time, though the work’s quite dense musical argument and underlying toughness were well conveyed. It was a pity that Webern’s Cello Sonata of 1914 followed too hard on the heels of Samuel West’s reading of Giuseppe Ungaretti’s Vigil, for like many of this composer’s works it was over almost as soon as it had begun, and a second performance of the two-minute piece would have been helpful.

Debussy’s masterly Cello Sonata of 1915 was superbly brought to life, its searingly ironic, despairing nature beautifully caught by both players.

Frank Bridge’s Cello Sonata, written between 1913 and 1917, brought the evening to a close. Again, this work reflects wartime experiences, with a lovely lyrical opening, dark and florid autumnal arabesques, and a fast, very angry episode in the second of the two movements. Overall, perhaps, it is a less effective vehicle of expression than the other works played, and though it is not a long piece, it tends to sprawl just a little. The Debussy Sonata would have made a more effective end to the evening.

Although there was a certain commonality in the works played, each has its own distinct personality, and each was unerringly brought to individual life through the diverse insights of both performers.

Alan Sanders

Print Friendly

Comments

Leave a Reply

Recent Reviews

MW

Facebook-button-1

Season Previews

__________________________________
  • NEW! Opera North’s Kiss Me, Kate Comes to the London Coliseum and Edinburgh __________________________________
  • NEW! Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts
 in 2018/2019 __________________________________
  • NEW! Edinburgh Sunday International Concerts Series in 2018/19 __________________________________
  • NEW! Salzburg Whitsun Festival 7 – 10 June 2019 __________________________________
  • NEW! Bolshoi Ballet 2018/19 UK Cinema Season __________________________________
  • NEW! Opera Holland Park’s 2018 Season Begins Soon __________________________________
  • NEW! 2018-2019 Geneva Grand Theâtre Season __________________________________
  • NEW! 2018/19 Hallé Season in Manchester __________________________________
  • NEW! 2018/19 Tonhalle Orchestra Zürich __________________________________
  • NEW! 2018/19 CBSO at Symphony Hall, Birmingham __________________________________
  • NEW! 2018/19 BBC NOW in Cardiff and Swansea __________________________________
  • NEW! English National Opera in 2018/19 __________________________________
  • NEW! The 2018/19 Birmingham Classical Season __________________________________
  • NEW! Kelli O’Hara and Ken Watanabe Star in The King and I at the London Palladium __________________________________
  • NEW! The 2018 BBC Proms __________________________________
  • NEW! Bampton Classical Opera Celebrates its 25th Anniversary with Nicolò Isouard’s Cinderella __________________________________
  • NEW! Pop-Up Opera’s 2018 Mozart Double Bill __________________________________
  • Subscribe to Review Summary Newsletter

    Reviews by Reviewer

    News and Featured Articles

    __________________________________
  • NEW! How Our Grandparents Decided How We Should Listen to Music __________________________________
  • NEW! Abandoned Liszt Opera Sardanapalo Premieres in Weimar in August __________________________________
  • NEW! THE TENOR RUSSELL THOMAS IN CONVERSATION WITH MARGARIDA MOTA-BULL __________________________________
  • NEW! RAFAL BLECHACZ IN CONVERSATION WITH GEOFFREY NEWMAN __________________________________
  • NEW! MARKUS POSCHNER IN CONVERSATION WITH GREGOR TASSIE __________________________________
  • UPDATED! Chelsea Opera Group Perform Massenet’s Thaïs at the Cadogan Hall on 23 June __________________________________
  • UPDATED! Carly Paoli Sings for Chelsea Pensioners, at Cadogan Hall, and Signs for Sony/ATV __________________________________
  • NEW! A Q&A WITH ITALIAN BARITONE FRANCO VASSALLO __________________________________
  • NEW! MICHAEL SANDERLING IN CONVERSATION WITH GREGOR TASSIE __________________________________
  • NEW! HOW TO CONTACT SEEN AND HEARD INTERNATIONAL __________________________________
  • NEW! Trinity Laban Moves to Abolish All-Male Composer Concerts __________________________________
  • NEW! ARABELLA STEINBACHER IN CONVERSATION WITH GREGOR TASSIE __________________________________
  • NEW! THE CONDUCTOR LAURENCE EQUILBEY IN CONVERSATION WITH COLIN CLARKE __________________________________
  • NEW! A Q&A WITH LISETTE OROPESA AS SHE RETURNS TO LA OPERA FOR ORFEO ED EURIDICE __________________________________
  • Search S&H

    Archives by Week

    Archives by Month