Posts Tagged ‘Emma Johnson’

Review of ‘An Evening of Julian Lloyd Webber and Friends’ at Cambridge Corn Exchange on Wednesday 30th October 2013

November 6, 2013

Julian Lloyd Webber’s penultimate concert as Cambridge Corn Exchange’s Artist in Residence was highly successful. The three performers, all well-renowned musicians of the era, played with exquisite technical and musical expertise. There was no flamboyant gesture, delicate whisper or rhythmic complexity that they could not master with ease.

The programme was well designed with much variety and included works by Beethoven, Weber, Chopin, Prokofiev, William Lloyd Webber, Fauré and Brahms.  

Julian’s highly expressive, sonorous technique certainly won the day. This was especially evident in the Fauré. Emma Johnson, well-known since winning the BBC Young Musician of the Year in 1984, produced beautiful sounds from her clarinet. Even the highest notes had that special rich tone that only the best clarinet players can create. John Lill (piano) demonstrated a keen understanding of the effectiveness of subtle changes in touch while effortlessly mastering amazing feats of virtuosic strength and embellishment.

 The three performers worked very well together, synchronising wide-ranging dynamics perfectly, first demonstrated by Beethoven’s ‘Trio no. 4 in B flat, Op 11’. The second movement was charm itself, while in the third their huge talent showed us glimpses of Beethoven’s humour that is rarely seen.

‘Grand Duo Concertant in E flat, op 48’ by Weber played by Emma and John, moved up the complexity a notch. One of the highlights of the evening was the sheer beauty and phenomenal control of the extremely soft, gentle melody in the second movement.  

John opened the second part of the concert with a wonderful performance of ‘Nocturne in C major op 48 no.1’ by Chopin which featured delicious timing. Every note was expressed carefully and purposefully.  John followed with a most challenging ‘Toccata in D Minor op. 11’ by Prokofiev.  There was no doubt that this was a real ‘toccata’ and the rapid complex mass of sound in John’s hands was always faultless and clearly delineated.

Julian’s appeal is his down-to-earth homeliness and his performance of two works by his father, William Lloyd Webber were a pleasant interlude with many moments of poignancy and nostalgia.

The final work by Brahms ‘Trio in A minor, op. 114’, brought this delightful evening to a powerful and fulfilled close.

Julian will feature next at the Corn Exchange (www.cornex.co.uk, tel: 01223 357851.) on 22nd May 2014 at 7.30 pm with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. The programme includes Elgar’s Cello Concerto.

Advertisements

review of The Mayor’s Concert at the Guildhall on Wednesday 24th July 2013

July 26, 2013

One of the highlights of the Cambridge Music Festival is the Mayor’s Concert. This year’s event held in the Guildhall was highly successful and featured clarinetist Emma Johnson and pianist Pascal Rogé. Since winning the BBC young Musician of the Year in 1984, Emma has carved herself a thriving career as a professional performer, and Paul Rogé, since being admitted to the Paris Conservatoire at the age of 11 has become a highly acclaimed concert pianist. They made a formidable pair.

The programme included works by Beethoven, Brahms, Poulenc, Milhaud and Debussy. These two very talented performers synchronized well, Emma and Pascal echoing each other in mood and expression perfectly.

The opening work was Beethoven’s ‘Variations on ‘La ci darem la mano’’ from Mozart’s ‘Don Giovanni’. This familiar aria was given new ground by these performers with undeniable skill and empathy. Even when playing some of the most rapid short sharp notes, these performers never faltered.

Their other joint works were also delightful: In ‘Sonata in F minor, Op 120 No 1’ by Brahms they revelled in the emotional pull of the composer’s expansive phrases and the variety of expression they managed to convey in single phrases was phenomenal. Sweeping from one register to another on the clarinet was no problem for Emma. Poulenc’s ‘Sonata for Clarinet and Piano’ was magical, Chopin’s ‘Fantasy Impromptu’ amazing and Milhaud’s Scaramouche was a wonderful journey into a world of childlike innocence and delight.

When Pascal played his solo items, it was clear that his favoured works would be by French composers. Speaking to him at the interval I was impressed to hear him make final decisions about which pieces he would perform. He obviously had a huge repertoire immediately at his fingertips. The audience was delighted when he chose to play some of the most popular pieces of the French repertoire: Arabesque no. 1 by Debussy, Debussy’s ‘Claire de Lune’ and Satie’s Gymnopédie no 1. as well as  the Poulenc Improvisations inspired by the French singer Edith Piaf and The Austrian music of Franz Schubert in turn. Pascal played with great skill, giving the pieces authenticity and momentum. 

Their encore, an arrangement of Debussy’s La Fille au cheveaux de lin’ was a delight and certainly well deserved.

The concert was in aid of Centre33 (providing support for young people aged 18 to 25) www.centre33.org.uk and Blue Smile (supporting children with mental health problems) www.bluesmileproject.org. For more information about the festival, contact www.cambridgesummermusic.com.

 Rosemary Westwell