Brahms’s viola version of his F-minor Clarinet Sonata might surprise by the transformation it undergoes. On a viola it’s full, dark, romantic and dramatic in a way that the woodwind instrument can never quite achieve. This was the climax of this Wigmore Hall BBC Lunchtime concert by Antoine Tamestit and Cédric Tiberghien, alumni of the BBC’s New Generation Artists scheme.
It was a performance with detail to relish: the way Tamestit would release a held note before a flowing passage; the long lines favoured in the slow movement, contrasted with an occasional more-punchy effect; the extreme tentativeness of the coda at the end of the first movement, echoed at the conclusion of the Andante; and the increasing furiousness of the third movement and Finale leading up to the triumphal close.
Earlier in this nicely-constructed programme, the most appealing piece was Vieuxtemps’s Elégie, the viola delicate yet strong, to melodically plangent effect – even if it becomes surprisingly busy for an elegy. In their respective ‘Nightingale’ settings, Brahms was explicitly compared with Berg, their songs composed two decades apart and illuminating how the early Berg relates to the Germanic tradition, if a producer of slightly queasy harmonies.
For the most part Tamestit took the foreground with his 1672 Stradivarius, and always winningly so, and Tiberghien thoughtfully revealed in Berg’s Piano Sonata if a dynamic accompanist throughout if a little too forceful in Brahms’s third movement. As an encore the duo presented ‘Casta diva’ from Bellini’s Norma.
- Broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 (available on BBC iPlayer for thirty days afterwards)
- Wigmore Hall www.wigmore-hall.org.uk