Last Tuesday the 14th February the Manor House String Duo performed for the annual dinner of the Thaxted Music Festival committee in Thaxted, Essex. The performance took the form of a one hour recital which followed a buffet and speech outlining this year’s offerings. Here is a video of our string duo performing a delightful work by Fiorillo:
The recital was a challenging programme for violin and cello and included some of the most famous pieces written for this combination. We started off with¬†three arrangements of Bach keyboard pieces. These worked perfectly for the two instruments and offered a calm and contemplative beginning to the programme. We continued with one of the Beethoven Duos which were originally written for the clarinet and bassoon and have an invention and integrity which look forward to his string trios. The first movement of Ravel’s 1922 Duo gave a contrast to the Beethoven, with it’s skillful weaving of major and minor melody with often highly syncopated writing which sets one instrument in opposition to the other. This was followed by a rarity in the form of a duo by Federigo Fiorillo which has a real dash and inventiveness, summed up by the tempo marking of ‘Allegro Spiritoso’ (you can listen to this on the above video). Next was one of the two virtuoso showpieces in the programme: namely the third movement of Kodaly’s 1914 Duo. The piece contains bravura cadenzas for the violin as well as a Presto main section that is both harmonically striking and chameleon-like in it’s ever changing palette. The world of the gypsy peasant and high flown romantic are brought together in a significant work of the early 20th century. We finished the recital with Johann Halvorsen’s transcription of Handel’s Passacaglia (from his seventh keyboard suite). This piece has to be played with real flair and yet a feeling of effortlessness which brings out a cheeky quality at times!
We finished with a warm audience reception and a feeling of achievement at having navigated a challenging programme.