Review: Beethoven Sonatas, Tasmin Little & Martin Roscoe, Snape Proms, August 18

Tasmin Little and Martin Roscoe who performed sat the Snape Proms

Tasmin Little and Martin Roscoe who performed sat the Snape Proms - Credit: Archant

Beethoven is one of the most concentrated of composers and any concert devoted entirely to him – in whatever medium – runs the risk of ‘too much of a good thing’. However, careful programme planning and the musical qualities of the performers ensured a wholly satisfying and splendidly performed concert consisting of three of his sonatas for violin and piano.

Aside from his last sonata in G opus 96 all of the composer’s violin sonatas come from his so called early period. The A minor sonata op 23 certainly bears the stamp of the composer but it lacks warmth and immediacy. Both Tamsin Little and Martin Roscoe played with absolute commitment and musical awareness and made the best possible case for the work. However, with the Spring and Kreutzer sonatas to follow there was little chance of other than bronze.

The opening bars of the Spring sonata showed Beethoven in a quite different mood, genial and relaxed. The running passages had an easy grace and fluency and the entire movement smiled. The slow movement was well sustained and the music drew a gracious and elegant response from both players. The scherzo was brisk and witty, the finale sturdy and Tasmin Little made light of the busy triplet figurations.

Although composed in 1803, the Kreutzer sonata is on a much more ambitious scale and the mood has much in common with the Eroica Symphony, composed at a similar time. The opening multiple stopped figure immediately caught the attention and Little launched into the turbulent presto with gusto. Martin Roscoe was a superb accompanist, quickly taking centre stage when the music demanded but instantly drawing back as the focus changed. The slow movement brought out some beautiful pianissimos from Roscoe and Little’s tone was admirably sustained. The finale was an absolute tour-de force and brought the evening to a brilliant conclusion that was greeted with great enthusiasm and a sprightly encore.

Gareth Jones.

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