Variations on ‘Bei Männern welche Liebe fühlen’ from Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte, WoO46
Piano Sonata quasi una fantasia in E flat, Op.27/1
Prelude, Interlude and Postlude – III: Epiphany in Venice
Piano Sonata quasi una fantasia in C sharp minor, Op.27/2 (Moonlight)
Sonata in C for Piano and Cello, Op.102/1
Pau Codina (cello) & Yshani Perinpanayagam (piano)
Gintaute Gataveckaite (piano)
Reviewed by: Colin Anderson
Reviewed: 5 July, 2012
Venue: St James’s Church, 197 Piccadilly, London W1
A neat and tempting Beethoven programme – two contrasted works for cello and piano and the pair of piano sonatas that he designated ‘quasi una fantasia’ – given in personable performances to continue the Park Lane Group’s ‘Beethoven with a surprise’ series.
Bookending the recital were the cello pieces. The Mozart Variations found Pau Codina lightly sustaining his approach and producing a rich but not cloying tone. Both artists played easefully (Yshani Perinpanayagam is a faithful accompanist) and were always at the service of the music, enjoying its variety, whether heartfelt and intimate or capricious and lively.
Codina’s unfailingly spot-on intonation continued into the ‘late’ Sonata, at once compressed yet immense in its implication. If Perinpanayagam was a little reticent in the Magic Flute piece then she needed to be more of a presence in this Sonata; not only is this a duo-work of equality but one elected by its composer as being for Piano and Cello. Although Perinpanayagam was reliably ‘there’ she was less entwined with the cello than ideal; having the piano lid on its shortest stick didn’t help either. If the assertive Codina and the reserved if attentive Perinpanayagam didn’t give us the music’s ‘full story’, we were nonetheless taken into a world of timeless beauty, rapt meditation and forceful vigour, a great composer expressing the deepest of feelings and leaping boundlessly forward.
Gintaute Gataveckaite was eager to get playing, even arriving before the cellist’s music-stand and platform had been cleared away. Fortunately such haste wasn’t apparent in the first ‘quasi una fantasia’ Sonata (unfairly neglected in relation to its nicknamed sister work), unfolded with poise and imagination, Gataveckaite unafraid to bring out sudden contrasts of dynamics and speed. In the first movement of the ‘Moonlight’ (not Beethoven’s title) Gataveckaite avoided sentimentality while finding poeticism and suggestiveness. After too long a gap, the second movement was on the sprightly side of Allegretto and the finale was fiery without being rushed, although if you’re going to repeat this movement’s first half, which Gataveckaite did, then you must reprise the second half, which she didn’t; otherwise the shape is illogical.
Nevertheless Gataveckaite impressed with her range, the Fazioli responding with sympathy to her touch (often beguilingly soft) and sounding less muddy than on other occasions this week. She also contributed the unannounced item, although as the church’s bells announcing 8 o’clock beat her to her first sound she really should have waited before playing the mystery piece, the final part of Adam Gorb’s Prelude, Interlude and Postlude (1992). The last movement is entitled ‘Epiphany in Venice’ and here continued the sounding of bells (!), subtle and multi-layered. It would have been good to hear the piece complete. Your correspondent knew the composer’s identity (mostly through a clue in Gataveckaite’s biography!) but decided against cheating. Thus Mr Gorb took the bottle-of-bubbly prize.
- Bravo Beethoven! continues until Friday 6 July at 7.30 p.m. at St James’s Church
- Park Lane Group