Adrian Brendel then gave us the third of Bach’s suites for solo cello. The opening Prélude had proper improvisatory freedom, an imaginative realization of Bach’s apparently plain text. In contrast the movements that followed never lost the feeling of regular pulse that is so essential to music that derives from the dance. Brendel’s approach was richly involving, respecting the music’s baroque ancestry but using all the resources of the modern instrument.
Leon McCawley made a clever bridge to the second half of the programme with his wonderfully coloured performance of Barber’s chopinesque Nocturne. The duo concluded with Chopin’s late Cello Sonata. The lengthy opening section of the first movement was repeated which enabled us to hear the expressively played second subject an extra time. The scherzo was deftly done, the slow movement had wonderful simplicity and the virtuosic demands of the finale were excitingly met.
It had been a wonderful evening of music-making from both artists and it received grateful applause and cheers. As a further reward their perfectly chosen encore was the first of Schumann’s Five Pieces in Folk Style, played with
elegance and mischief.