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Raphael Wallfisch (cello) and John York (piano)

Dorstone House, Dorstone

Tickets £15 (students £7.50)

Please note:  time given for end of concert is approximate

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Hay Music is proud and honoured to present a recital by one of the world’s finest cellists, Raphael Wallfisch, together with his regular pianist John York.

Programme

Rebecca Clarke:  Rhapsody for Cello and Piano (1923 - unpublished until now)

Beethoven:  Sonata in G minor Op 5 No 2

Brahms: Sonata in F minor Op 120 No 1

Frank Bridge:  Sonata in D minor (1917)

Raphael Wallfisch is acknowledged as probably the leading British cellist for the last few decades with an extraordinary discography now numbering over 80 CDs encompassing the entire major cello repertoire in concerti and chamber music and individual cello works. In addition he has specialised in introducing less familiar pieces by 20th century British composers and others.

He comes from a musical family (and has sired another generation of musicians) with his father being the pianist Peter Wallfisch and his mother the cellist Anita Lasker-Wallfisch, an Auschwitz survivor who owed her survival to her membership of the orchestra of the infamous death camp. Over his 40 year career Raphael has performed with all the leading orchestras worldwide, and nearer home with the LPO. LSO, BBC Symphony, English Chamber, Halle, CBSO, and more. He has appeared in festivals throughout Britain and Europe including the BBC Proms, Edinburgh and Aldeburgh. He has worked with numerous British composers including Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, James MacMillan, John Tavener and Adrian Williams.

John York’s career was launched in 1973 when he was awarded the International Debussy prize in Paris. After a Wigmore Hall debut he has performed across the world as a soloist with many of the major orchestras as well as being a chamber music partner, primarily with Raphael Wallfisch and the piano duo York2. Apart from the Wallfisch/York CDs he has recorded the complete works for piano and winds of Poulenc, Saint-Saëns, Ravel and Debussy. He was, for 33 years, Professor at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

Their programme begins with the Rhapsody for Cello and Piano (1923) by Rebecca Clarke (1886-1979). This is no Edwardian late romantic trifle but a major four movement work of, at times, almost unbearable pain and anguish, never published until now. She withdrew the work during early rehearsal with May Mukle and Myra Hess, and the work was never performed in her lifetime. It is clearly programmatic with the opening funeral bell on the piano followed by a rising cry and then descending arpeggios on both cello and piano filling the intense soundscape alongside the single line cello. The first movement ends quietly. The second movement is marked adagio e molto calmato, with the sound of a tick-tock clock, and the piano filling out with exquisite form and harmony, whilst the whole movement remains tender yet painful. In the allegro third movement you hear a percussive piano and pizzicato cello. There are thrilling passages with a strong cello theme against piano arpeggios. At one point we can perhaps hear a railway journey. Without a break the movement segues into the final lento, more anguish, more bells, and a descent into a calmer more reflective ending. Why did she withdraw this wonderful composition? Maybe on hearing it in rehearsal she found it too painful and revealing of her inner world and experience, feelings she could not bring herself to share with the public. What is known about her early family life suggests that the intense emotion is autobiographical in origin. This is a stunning work which should be heard, shared and appreciated by all those who value feeling in music.

Raphael and John continue with a performance of the huge Sonata in G minor Op 5 No 2. Here Beethoven is showing off his pianistic and compositional dexterity, structurally daring and technically demanding. The cello displays its full range with, at times, amiable conversations between the instruments and witty passages contrasting with the deeply felt troubled opening.

After the interval the duo continues with Brahms Sonata in F minor Op 120 No 1. This was originally composed for the clarinet (or viola) and piano but Wallfisch and York have made the first and their own arrangement for cello and piano. It is a substantial four movement work which fits so well on the cello, particularly with the heart-breaking second movement. It was written in 1894 three years before Brahms’ death and is one of the very last of his compositions.

The concert ends with Sonata in D minor by Frank Bridge. It is a two movement work composed between 1913 and 1917. The second movement expresses the despair of this avowed pacifist over the futility of the First World War.

This promises to be an exceptionally beautiful recital with the opportunity to hear great music performed by world-class musicians in the intimate surroundings of the music room at Dorstone House. But do remember to bring all your empathy with you! Not-to-be-missed, so do not delay in booking tickets when they come on sale, as those who leave it to the last minute will likely be disappointed.

This concert has been made possible by the support of an anonymous sponsor.

As usual concert goers at Dorstone are invited, weather permitting, to bring a picnic lunch from 1.00 pm and visit the garden and arboretum. Tea and cakes will be available after the performance, provided and served by fund-raising Dorstone volunteers. Signposted car parking is in the field next to Dorstone church.