Chichester Cathedral Lunchtime Concerts series: Charlotte Rowan and Charlotte Stevenson, violin and piano

Chichester Cathedral, Nov 1

After the intensity of the Rachmaninov Vespers on Saturday, Charlotte Rowan and Charlotte Stevenson’s programme today was pure enjoyment rather than a long, dark night of the soul. Outside it was breezy, bringing in the authentic November chill but inside the music was Mediterranean.

From the summery Danse Espagnole by Manuel de Falla they varied the pace with a timeless Pastoral from Ian Venables’s op.11 which will repay further investigation, soaring not quite as high as the lark ascends but doing it movingly.

The Presto from Dohnányi’s Ruralia Hungarica was folk dance for the C20th with Charlotte Stevenson as busy in the accompaniment as the violin and scintillating in the climax. Some Mendelssohn, Andante and Rondo Capriccioso, was welcome because we haven’t been hearing enough of him round here lately. As it shifted to the Rondo, the set maintained its variety of tempo, the violin all gaiety and skittering before embellishing as the melody passed to the piano and some digital acrobatics made clear that she was conjuring a consistently wonderful tone from the instrument. 

Schubert, arranged by Liszt and transcribed by David Oistrakh was sumptuous and Ibert’s Little White Donkey an innocent, impressionistic piece before the broad, lyrical Song of Love by Suk resolved to a diminuendo which anticipated the dazzling fireworks of the Tarantella after the Introduction by Sarasate, one of that elite group of violinists (Paganini, Tartini, Kreisler) that left behind such incendiary pieces as a challenge to future generations. They might be surprised how readily they’ve been taken up.

She was unlikely to escape without an encore and it was another bravura piece, Csárdás by Vittorio Monti, which may or may not have included a variation on Mendelssohn’s Spring Song, as favoured by ice-cream vans, but it sounded like it to me. The themes, though, are by way of a launch pad into the helter-skelter of another short helping of fizz and energy to add the last touch to a programme that grew and grew, each piece building on and confirming what one thought one must have heard in the one before.

As it always is on Tuesday lunchtimes in Chichester, deeply impressive. It’s either that or I’m just very good at picking which ones to go to.

David Green

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