Thomas Gould & John Reid

Schubert
Fantasy in C, D934
Szymanowski
Myths, Op.30
Schumann
Fantasiestücke, Op.73

Thomas Gould (violin) & John Reid (piano)


Reviewed by: Ben Hogwood

Reviewed: 4 March, 2008
Venue: Wigmore Hall, London

Thomas Gould and John Reid. Photograph: BBCThomas Gould chose an ambitious programme for this lunchtime concert, one that demanded virtuosity, not just from the violinist but from pianist James Reid, who if anything was taxed more than his partner in the opening work, Schubert’s Fantasy.

The composer’s longest work for violin and piano, the Fantasy runs in ‘cyclical’ form, with a Theme and Variations at its centre. Occasionally in this performance however it felt as if the structure was too loose and accommodating, particularly when the faster music returned after the Variations.

That said, Gould and Reid performed with imagination and flair, if lacking some essential humour as the Variations progressed. They rightly took an expressive pause before Schubert’s main theme returned, which heightened the sense of resolution when it did arrive. Gould’s variance of tone was also a significant feature in this performance, beginning with restraint in response to the piano, but by the end fully asserted.

This range greatly benefited a fine and colourful performance of Szymanowski’s Myths, the three exotic pieces delving into rich colour and fantasy. Particularly affecting was Gould’s portrayal of Pan’s flute in ‘Dryades et Pan’, the glassy harmonics beautifully secure while Reid’s piano-sound hovered expectantly in the background. An appropriately humid air of mystery hung over the performance, with Reid’s use of the sustaining pedal contributing much to the piano accompaniment as it swirled around the violin figurations, themselves extremely secure in Gould’s hands. Indeed, both players were fully in command of the music, and were careful to emphasise the brief points of repose offered in an atmospheric ‘Narcisse’, before picking up the momentum once more.

After two relatively big works the inclusion of Schumann’s ‘Fantasy Pieces’ made sense. The composer wrote the works for clarinet, cello or violin with piano accompaniment.

Here Gould and Reid formed impressive ensemble, and if perhaps not finding the uninhibited joy of the third piece, their legato and rubato were sensitively employed elsewhere. The chromatic middle section of the second piece could also have found more in the way of humour, but the two kept a sense of communality, which after all was Schumann’s overriding wish for the function of this music.

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