Resonance’s friendly and informal concert series continued last week with a recital by Ella Brinch (viola) and Chris Cartner (piano), performed in Pitt St Uniting Church and Christ Church Lavender Bay. This excellent series of chamber concerts and recitals featuring emerging young Sydney artists is attracting a regular following. It was good to see the friendly and familiar faces in the audience again.
This all 19th century program brought us two wonderful sonatas for the viola interspersed with Brahms’ Intermezzo in A for solo piano, which was a moving and poignant link between the two main works. The concert opened with the Sonata for viola and piano in B flat, Op 36 by Henri Vieuxtemps. Born in modern-day Belgium, Vieutemps was a virtuoso violinist, who drew comparisons with Paganini in his day and a renowned teacher. As Chris told the audience, he was also a viola player and the viola sonata was composed in 1863. Right from the start of the calm and majestic slow introduction to the first movement, it was performed with warmth, rich tone and superb ensemble between the players. The piece thoroughly explores the range of both instruments, both in expression and technique and the contrasts between sections were brought out exquisitely.
After the appropriately placed Intermezzo (defined as ‘a composition which fits between two other musical or dramatic entities’), one of the most tender of Brahms’ solo piano works, which are all-too rarely heard nowadays, we enjoyed a passionate performance of Brahms’ second viola sonata. He wrote the two sonatas in 1894, originally for clarinet and piano, and then transcribed them for the viola. This sonata has much in common with the Vieuxtemps; both were written towards the end of the composer’s life, both are in three movements and epitomise the late romantic style in their dramatic and contrasting themes and expressiveness. It was wonderfully played, with great intensity.
The audience were then treated to an encore, Fritz Kreisler’s Leibesleid (Love’s Sorrow) before the now traditional glass of wine and chat with the performers and audience. I highly recommend the next concert in the series, which will feature Beethoven’s Ghost trio performed by the Reservoir Trio.