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Raphael Walfisch (cello) and John York (piano)

09 October 2017

Review published in the Darlington and Stockton Times

by Peter Bevan

It was very encouraging to see yet another music society attract an increased audience for its opening concert with the quire of Ripon Cathedral virtually full. Cellist Raphael Wallfisch and pianist John York previously appeared here for the Cathedral Concert Society exactly fifteen years ago and have been performing as a duo for 35 years.

They opened with Brahms’ Sonata in E flat, Op. 102, No. 2, originally written for clarinet and piano but also adapted by the composer for viola or violin and now for cello. On this hearing I’m not sure it was entirely successful but that may have been partly due to the quire’s acoustics which, unless you’re sitting close to the stage, tend to flatten the sound of certain instruments.

John York’s admirable programme notes gave a vivid portrayal of Martinů’s Sonata No. 1 which was much more invigorating from the beginning with some lovely musical effects in the contrasting second movement and a colourful and energetic finale.

Kenneth Leighton’s Alleluia pascha nostrum, Op. 85 was written for Raphael Wallfisch and as a meditation on plainsong chants it was an appropriate choice for this venue. It featured the cello in particular and although it started off deeply, it was the higher, singing notes which resonated more effectively here.

Finally we heard Brahms’ Cello Sonata in F major, Op. 99 in a particularly convincing performance with a lovely even sound and an effortless flow in the second movement, typical of the confident rapport demonstrated by the two musicians throughout.

The Society’s next concert by the Pelléas Ensemble (flute, harp and viola) on Monday 13 November has been transferred from Sharow Church to the Cathedral; details and tickets at www.riponconcerts.co.uk or 01765 635244.

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