Review: Katie Wilkinson, viola, at “Lunchtime Live!”

Portsmouth Cathedral

Katie Wilkinson, Portsmouth Cathedral, Nov 9

What goes on in the pub, or what one overhears, at the ‘after party’ stays in the pub. I’m not concerned with technical imperfections. Some years ago I saw Tasmin Little in Portsmouth’s Square Tower and she said it wasn’t about perfection for her, it was about the overall performance. I certainly don’t regard myself as a ‘critic’ which sounds to me as if it implies fault finding. I’m flattered to be called a reviewer. I just write about it and am glad to do so about such glorious performances as today’s by Katie Wilkinson, vla, and Marios Argiros, pno.

Robert Schumann’s Adagio and Allegro, op.70, immediately announced Katie’s generous, warm tone that awoke from its reverie to Marios busily propelling the Allegro’s smooth sanity in which, as ever with Schumann, I found little trace of the torments he suffered.

It is both a big responsibility and a honour to have the first ‘official’ say about a world première and so I’ll take all the help I can get. John Owen’s Prelude for Solo Viola is palindromic which is a composer’s formal plaything but didn’t prevent it from soaring in glimpses between fragile fragments that might be shored up against our ruin. I’d like to think it had some desolate beauty over and above its crosswordy structure and, demanding to be listened to, is much better suited to visceral live performance than heard coming out of speakers as if it were a leisure or lifestyle commodity.

But in an impressive programme in which all three works could be regarded as the highlight, the Franck Sonata was the ‘big picture’, increasingly convincingly making its way towards the melodious theme of its Allegretto finale of such orchestral grandeur and power. It doesn’t seem all that long since I heard it last and probably, hopefully, said something similar but after the serenity of its first movement and lush piano helping the viola into its violin register, there was drama and chiaroscuro in the Allegro and much for one of Portsmouth’s biggest lunchtime audiences in recent memory to be sent home thrilled with.

It remains something of a special secret that such things happen of a Thursday lunchtime in a quiet corner of otherwise generally, let’s face it, downbeat Portsmouth. It’s not supposed to be a secret, though.

It is to be hoped that Katie and Marios can be tempted back sometime in the not too far distant future because there is other repertoire so let’s see if that can be brought about.

David Green

Event Search