Blenheim Music Circle

Phoebe Woollam reviews consummate musicians Gemma Rosefield and Simon Lepper

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Blenheim Concerts


The next concert is on Sunday 21st November 2010
at 3.30 pm in the Chiswick Catholic Centre.

Mami Shikimori - piano
Programme will include Mozart, Brahms, and Prokofiev

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Gemma Rosefield and Simon Lepper are both consummate musicians and on Sunday 19th September their recital at the Catholic Centre was a resounding success. They played to a large and appreciative audience in spite of the fact that so much else was going on in Chiswick on that day.

The programme began with a stylish performance of the Beethoven variations on “See the Conquering Hero Comes” from Handel’s Judas Maccabaeus, which gave the audience their first chance to hear the wonderful tone of Gemma Rosefield’s fantastic Gagliano ‘cello and also to appreciate the standard of sensitive ensemble playing from both musicians.

Cecilia McDowalls’ Falling Angels was in many ways a ‘cello song of overwhelming grief recalling the time when it was thought that Venice was sinking, and evoking the rhythms of the sea and the sound of submerged bells. It was a powerful piece with wonderful piano writing that was played with much sensitivity by Simon Lepper.

The Sonata for ‘cello and piano Op. 6 by Samuel Barber was composed in 1932 when he was travelling in Europe. It has three movements: Allegro ma non troppo. Adagio and Allegro appassionato which were all played with authority and superb technical assurance There were exquisitely beautiful moments too, especially the lyrical cantabile so often heard in the ‘cello line.

After the interval they played the rarely heard Sonata for ‘cello and piano by Richard Strauss, a youthful but substantial composition written in true Romantic style when he was only sixteen. It was possible to hear hints of Der Rosenkavalier in this early writing and it was a splendid piece played with technical brilliance.

The concert finished with Paganini’s “Variations on a theme from Rossini’s Moses” a hilarious and fiendishly difficult piece originally written on one string for the violin (because legend has it that the other strings broke in performance) and played here by Gemma Rosefield on the A string with phenomenal success.

These two musicians were formidable and towering performers and it was a real privilege to hear them.

Phoebe Woollam

October 15, 2010