Monday, October 26, 2020

Wigmore Hall, London

Guest Reviewer, Ateş Orga

Back in my Guildford days during the late-eighties/early-nineties all talk was about the local Hanslip family and their two prodigious daughters – Virginia, piano, and Chloë, violin, then not yet five. This BBC Radio 3/Wigmore lunchtime recital was a welcome opportunity to reacquaint, giving pause, too, to reflect, not for the first time, that in these restricted, physically-distanced days more and more home-grown, home-based artists are regaining a hold on our attention, reminding us of qualities and strengths that over the years promoters and A&R men have been all too quick to shelve in favour of the latest young exotic sensation.

Standing in for the travel-incapacitated Amatis Trio, originally advertised, Hanslip and Danny Driver gave the kind of spur-of-the-moment concert that had all the freedom of a programme naturally felt and not over-rehearsed. Two empathetic artists in confident control of repertory and medium. Expanses of poetry, projected structured climaxes, intense dialogue, the passion of the moment compensating for those passing wiry attacks one might get right in the recording studio without necessarily ever generating the same degree of electricity.

This was a cultured hour. Beethoven’s early middle-period G-major Sonata, Opus 30/3, César Franck’s late A-major. Plenty in the former to relish – articulate phrasing and paragraphing, ‘speaking’, listening exchanges, a rustic step to the outer movements, a minuet final cadence to die for. Tempos elegantly judged and breathed. Connoisseur classical, perfectly weighted pianism from Driver. The emotion and technical challenge of the Franck found him and Hanslip up gear and style to theatrical effect. The ascent of passages that can daunt if not defeat players was fearless. Then there was the spaciousness of music-making, nothing if not receptive to the harmonic and tonal currents of the work. The repose between movements, the tenderness of the more lyrically reflective passages, was affecting.

True, the Finale turned a touch craggy but it was a small price to pay. Reynaldo Hahn’s 1913 Bachian love-song À Chloris made for a dreamingly exquisite encore. “All that they say of ambrosia / Does not stir my imagination / Like the favour of your eyes!” (de Régnier/Stokes). Good online viewing figures, nearly 2,000 by the end of the afternoon, three times the capacity of the venue.

Also live on BBC Radio 3