Bournemouth Chamber Music Society, Bournemouth University

11:38am Monday 6th February 2012

By Mike Marsh

A generous and poignant tribute, by cellist Guy Johnston, of the Sarabande from Bach’s Cello Suite No1, was given in memory of Dr Peter Lowe, BCMS Chairman, whose sudden death was recently announced.

In the programme Johnston was joined by pianist Ashley Wass in Beethoven’s Cello Sonata No5. A singing cello theme inhabits the first movement, succeeded by the solemnity of a finely played Adagio and completed by both a delicate and powerful fugal finale.

Barber’s Sonata for cello and piano has great potential for lyrical beauty. Yet this account concentrated rather more upon its turmoil. The Adagio’s sobriety was well conveyed, as was the more restive central episode. The finale breezes along in stormy, passionate gusts with Johnston and Wass exploring the score’s full range.

James MacMillan’s Kiss on Wood is allegorical, pertaining to the crucifix and is “devotional in intent”. Sustained piano chords and a chant-like melody from the cello offered a mainly serene and slow progression to the cello’s upper register that completely communicated the composer’s objective.

Brahms’ Cello Sonata No2 has the lyrical cello drawing sympathetic response from the piano and working up a turbulent relationship. The Adagio’s unity of bloom was lovingly attained by Johnston and Wass, also engaging the Scherzo with vigour and revelling in the tuneful finale.

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