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Raphael Wallfisch and John York
Blackheath Sundays
17 October 2004

Introduction, Theme &
Variations in Bb Op 82 No 2
Sonata in A minor D821 'Arpeggione'
Janacek: Pohadka
Waldesruhe Op 68/5
Rondo in G minor B171
Slavonic Dance in A major Op 46/3

An auspicious start to a new season! Last week the refurbished Wigmore Hall was packed, with standing at the back, for two middle of the day recitals. Blackheath Halls too has had a summer break make-over, and it was packed to overflowing for this popular cello/piano duo.

A slightly rocky start for Raphael Wallfisch in the rare and welcome Schubert variations, virtuosic for both instruments, but they quickly settled down and delighted the audience, not least for their energy and close rapport, with eye contact that is the mark of a true duo. Janacek's Pohadka is a sonata in all but name, and a fine one, in his idiosyncratic mature style. Martinu's trenchant first sonata brought a thrilling first half to a rousing finish, its slow movement hving been the emotional core of the first hour.

The second half was all arrangements, and none the worse for that. The 'Arpeggione' transcription (the obsolete freeted instrument never caught on) is odd because of its accompaniment being definitely subsidiary; it casts a spell in a sensitive live performance, and this was one. The Dvorak items were not so well known as they deserve - the Rondo was composed just before the great concerto which has relegated it to the background.

Future Blackheath Sundays at 11 programmes can be accessed at http://www.blackheathhalls.com/events.ph and the York2 piano duo (Mr & Mrs York) have a coup at Wigmore Hall Friday 29 October, when they will premiere the rediscovered
4-hand piano score of The Planets, found recently in a cupboard at St Paul's Girl's School (where Holst taught and John York is Director of Piano) plus La Mer and The Rite of Spring, no less!

© Peter Grahame Woolf