YCAT Wigmore Lunchtime Series [Alasdair Beatson & Friends … Stravinsky & Fauré]

Suite Italienne
Piano Quartet No.1 in C minor, Op.15

Alasdair Beatson (piano), Thomas Gould (violin), Gary Pomeroy (viola) & Bartholomew LaFollette (cello)

Reviewed by: Ben Hogwood

Reviewed: 5 April, 2011
Venue: Wigmore Hall, London

Alasdair Beatson. Photograph: Giorgia BertazziA regrettable but integral part of the concert experience is the last-minute cancellation, so when it was announced that pianist Alexandra Dariescu was ill and not able to perform Ravel’s Gaspard de la nuit, Alasdair Beatson commendably stepped in at extremely short notice.

With cellist Bartholomew LaFollette he performed Stravinsky’s Suite Italienne, an arrangement the composer made of music from Pulcinella made in conjunction with Gregor Piatigorsky. There was an attractive lightness of touch to this performance, the brightness of the distinctive first theme setting the tone; though initially the dotted notes of ‘Serenata’ were not so strongly defined. The selective vibrato LaFollette applied to ‘Tarantella’ was tasteful, while ‘Finale’ zipped along with an attractive bounce, the balletic source of the music brought out.

The Fauré, despite a lack of rehearsal time, was an extremely persuasive interpretation. As in many of his chamber works with strings Fauré strengthens his main melodic material by putting it in unison, doubled or even trebled across the ranges between violin, viola and cello. This presents challenges of tuning and phrasing that the string trio here met head on, the three enjoying the twists and turns of the music while always aware of Beatson’s thoughtful phrasing and careful pedalling. Considering the circumstances, the musicians showed admirable unity of purpose, enjoying the lilt of the first movement’s main theme and finding the emotional centre of the slow one, growing from a carefully considered opening statement, while the finale had impressive sweep, Beatson’s nimble figuration a feature until the minor key becomes major: a triumph enjoyed by all.

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