HomeOperaFenella Humphreys and Joseph Tong on the Three Choirs Competition – Seen...

Fenella Humphreys and Joseph Tong on the Three Choirs Competition – Seen and Heard Worldwide

United KingdomUnited Kingdom Three Choirs Competition 2022 [3] – Phibbs, Sibelius, Matthews, Rautavaara, Frances-Hoad: Fenella Humphreys (violin), Joseph Tong (piano). Holy Trinity Church, Hereford, 27.7.2022. (CS)

Fenella Humphreys (violin) and Joseph Tong (piano) © Dale Hodgetts & James O’Driscoll

Joseph Phibbs – Sonata (live performance premiere)
Sibelius – 5 Items, ‘The Bushes’, Op.75
David Matthews5 Bushes (competition co-commission, premiere)
RautavaaraSummer season Ideas
Cheryl Frances-Hoad – Sonatina
Sibelius – 5 Items, Op.81

Cool, classical breezes appeared to blow by way of this recital programme by violinist Fenella Humphries and pianist Joseph Tong, with occasional warming wafts from the amorous, mischievous South.  Up to date British and Finnish works had been interleaved with miniatures by Sibelius, the entire embraced by the theme of ‘nature’.

Joseph Phibbs’ Sonata (2020) opened the programme.  In opposition to the piano’s delicate circlings, quiet pizzicato ‘bells’ offered a compelling motif on the opening of the ‘Prelude’ earlier than Humphreys unfolded a seamless, serene melody, shadowed by occasional ‘flutterings’.  Vigour and heat pushed the melody increased, however the prevailing temper was considered one of intense stillness.  ‘Nocturne’ was spectral – all twinkles, flitterings and ethereal harmonics, the latter purely centered by Humphreys, till piano oscillations launched a dancing power throughout the violin, which ventured right down to a gritty G-string then spun flippantly earlier than coming to relaxation with barely tense up-bow gestures.  In ‘Ostinato’, a meandering arpeggio-figure, clearly enunciated, accompanied the slowly unfolding violin melody.  Humphreys’ bow management and tone, as the road rose with mesmerising lucidity, had been exemplary; she sustained a fascinating focus, with out vibrato, the intonation completely true.  ‘Blues’ kicked off with stabbing fleetness, combining a floating fluidity with pushed power.  Nevertheless vigorous and flamboyant the gestures, the duo’s management and refinement had been exemplary.

Humphreys premiered Cheryl Frances-Hoad’s Sonatina (an association of the composer’s earlier Songs and Dances for cello and piano) with Nicola Eimer in April 2019.  The low piano bass notes that open the ‘Quietly dignified’ first motion created a sombre however poised atmosphere and triggered imaginative exploration of Romantic seams by each devices.  The motion slipped segue into the capricious center motion, the asymmetry of the time signatures mixed with quirky thrives within the piano texture making a vibrant dance above which Humphreys’ violin might soar, candy and clean.  The calmer, extra expansive central episode gave welcome pause for breath, however the reprise was infectiously playful. Returning to the temper of the opening, the ultimate motion had a ‘summative weight’.  Once more, the centered energy of Humphreys’ sustained strokes was absorbing and there was an exquisite sense of spaciousness and breadth earlier than the long-held remaining violin be aware launched the strain, slipping away into silence.

David Matthews’ 5 Bushes for solo piano (2021-22) is a companion piece to Sibelius’s The Bushes, Op.75 (1914). ‘The Oak’ had the Aristocracy however Joseph Tong additionally discovered an elegiac gentleness, whereas ‘The Willow’ danced to a young lilt, exploring and rising as unfold chords and spirals let within the air and lightweight.  Dotted rhythms and ‘scotch snaps’ – taut however not exaggerated – created folky patterns in ‘Scots pine’, a beautiful upwards rush from the underside triggering falling cascades which grew in urgency.  This was music each spirited and severe.  A distinction of register and texture characterised the apple tree, although from the scurrying emerged a beautiful melody which got here to light and harmonious relaxation.  The slower pulse of ‘English elm’, and the gravity of the repeating, sluggish rhythmic assertion, created a portentous calm which dissolved right into a barely-there gesture of avowal and presence, in opposition to the chances.

Tong prefaced the primary efficiency of Matthews’ arboreal cycle with the work with which it converses, Sibelius’ 5 Items (The Bushes), Op.75.  One scarcely thinks of Sibelius as a composer for the piano, however in truth the composer wrote greater than 100 works for the instrument, lots of them miniatures – for home consumption and as money-spinners, maybe, however no much less lovingly created for that.  Tong persuasively made a case for Sibelius’ vigorous embrace of a lighter, typically salon-ish, Chopin-esque idiom.  There was completely no condescension right here.  The pianist discovered contrasts of dynamic and texture, sustained a pure ebb and move, and, with perception and affection, introduced nature into Hereford’s Holy Trinity Church.

The rowan blossom tumbled freely, nascent melody stirred by fluid syncopations.  The solitary fir tree evinced extra grandeur, as heat, robust arpeggiated chords created spacious expanse and peak, the easy stepwise motifs establishing a assured solemnity.  The leaves of the aspen glittered and had been homosexual, spilling into the birch which rustled urgently in vigorous patterns.  The spruce endured extra turbulence, however its the Aristocracy withstood the bombast of the breezes, and the minor-key shut was considerate.  Tong’s perception and dedication had been served by a consummate method and the end result was intellectually and emotively participating, making a lot of Sibelius’ miniature varieties.

Einojuhani Rautavaara’s Summer season Ideas (2008) are a transforming of fabric composed in 1972.  Humphreys’ confirmed the lyricism of the brief narrative, bringing forth each the easefulness and the shadows, and once more the size of the bow-line and the sustained energy of tone had been spectacular.  The recital closed with Sibelius’ Op.81 5 Items which reminded one which Sibelius was himself a violinist and that he wrote many small works for violin and piano –  ‘character items’ of actual freshness, vary from melodising appropriate for amateurs and items which make extra virtuosic calls for.

Humphreys and Tong displayed an instinctive feeling for the phrasing, color and element of those miniatures.  Humphreys’ method appeared to satisfy no challenges when confronted with the double stops of the ‘Mazurka’, and the liberty of type and phrasing, of ebb and move, was pretty.  The piano’s perpetuo cellular within the ‘Rondino’ supported a joyful violin melody, whereas ‘Valse’ was filled with grace, by some means each even and nuanced, effortlessly easeful.  The ‘Aubade’ was flamboyant – Humphreys was unfazed by the a number of stops and sophisticated pizzicato calls for, and the set romped house with a ‘Minuet’ of folky vigour which modulated into Schumann-esque rapture.

The duos’ encore was the ‘Impromptu’ from Sibelius’ 4 Items, Op.78, filled with joie de vivre.

Claire Seymour



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Most Popular

Recent Comments