From the start we knew we were in for a treat. Rarely featured as a solo instrument, Louise Williams demonstrated the full range of sounds possible from a fine instrument, beautifully played. The Rebecca Clarke Viola Sonata gave Louise every opportunity to display her virtuoso technique. A lively and melodic first movement was followed by a more complex display of the composer’s ingenuity. The final movement was a glorious outpouring of sound from two players in perfect sympathy with each other and with the composer’s wishes.
As a dramatic contrast, Amanda Pitt sang three songs composed by Clarke with words by WB Yeats and John Masefield. Her voice was initially over operatic but this settled down to produce well modulated interpretations of the settings, expertly supported by David Owen Norris who was the ideal accompanist. Most intriguing was Masefield’s Seal Man which was presented with both power and delicacy. Two songs for alto, viola and piano showed Brahms at his most lyrical and melodic, the three artists blending perfectly to bring full meaning to the poetry.
After the interval, Norris and Pitt played a sonata by JS Bach which fitted perfectly the modern instrumentation of viola and piano rather than the original viola da gamba and harpsichord. It was a pleasure to hear the crisp clarity of the piano underpinning the flowing viola phrasing. The andante was a particularly charming interlude which gave way to a bright and stimulating finale.
Amanda Pitt returned to present three songs composed by Clara Schumann before being joined by Louise Williams to perform Schubert’s Shepherd on the Rock with both style and fluency by a well integrated team. The audience were clearly delighted by the whole work and particularly applauded the exiting finale Spring is Coming! A good message to hear on a wet November evening.