Review: Chichester Cathedral Lunchtime Concerts series – Boglárka György & Amy Butler, piano

5 September

It might have well rained until September and it did put in an effort to but, having arrived here, we find a minor heatwave like a side who think they’ve bowled the opposition out but then the last wicket adds another 50. Maybe the weather accounts for all the spaces in Chichester Cathedral today where usually there aren’t very many at all.

Those that missed it missed out on a fine renewal of this great ongoing series. Hungarian Boglárka György takes her Bartok with her and his Six Romanian Folk Dances were short, charismatic and the new strings on her violin were immediately tested and found in good order on the third of them, Topogó – Pe loc, at the very top end of the scale. After a couple of months off, it’s easy to have forgotten how good such players sound in the flesh.

Amy Beach’s Romance for Violin and Piano, op. 23was lush and sumptuous with more of that searing top register which is what will remain most in the memory of this recital but the main feature was Elgar.

He doesn’t feature as much as he might on any lists of my favourite music, the Cello Concerto and the fact that the chimney-sweep used to call me Nimrod when I was a little lad notwithstanding. I wonder if he had been French and written exactly the same music if he might seem more glamorous but there’s nothing to find fault with in the Violin Sonata, op.82. In fact, while I write, Tasmin Little’s recording has been ordered although it will have a scrap on its hands if it doesn’t arrive before Yuja Wang’s new Rachmaninov. It’s by no means the first piece to be added to the shelves after a lunchtime concert.

The Allegro is sonorous in the lower register and strident when Amy’s piano augments the passion. They are a tumult when joining forces. The Andante Romance is cautious but generates a similar emotional charge to the Cello Concerto in due course and the Allegro non troppo is certainly ‘non troppo’, often all smooth serenity in the violin above the chiming piano but becoming broader, wide open in its impressive finish which is, more than anything else, Elgarean.  

Boglárka, or was it Amy, said they’d never been to Chichester before but hoped they’d be back and that sentiment would have been endorsed all the way down the aisle. Applause in between movements is improper, in my little book, but it at least demonstrates audience engagement and enthusiasm. 

Applause was an uncertain thing today. It seemed not everyone was sure we’d had all six of the Bartok dances but maybe the usually highly attentive and appreciatice Chichester faithful weren’t quite match fit first time out after their various summers elsewhere.  

David Green

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