Appealingly Varied

MIKE WHEELER listens to a cello and piano recital given by Kathryn Monteiro and Joanna Lam


Cellist Kathryn Monteiro already had a link to Derby Chamber Music, as her first teacher was the society's patron, Katherine Jenkinson. For her first DCM recital, she was joined by pianist Joanna Lam in an appealingly varied programme.

Their rapport was clear right from the opening work, Robert Schumann's Fantasiestücke, Op 73, which they launched in an introspectively lyrical mood. In the second piece, they combined a similar spirit with a quicker impulse. Monteiro could have afforded to be a little less reticent here, but like her partner she brought plenty of spirit to No 3.

Joanna Lam's compelling account of Ravel's Miroirs was marked by a firm control of dynamic shading. 'Noctuelles' fluttered gently towards a calm moment in the middle, then took off in a flurry. 'Oiseaux Tristes' combined elegance with an underlying melancholy. In 'Une Barque sur l'Océan', washes of sound were delivered with a precision that was far from soulless, the calm haze and gentle swell offset by quick darting movements. Vigour in the outer sections of 'Alborada del Gracioso' balanced the jester's plangent song, while in 'La Vallée des Cloches', Lam was mesmerising in her handling of Ravel's overlapping layers of sound, taking the dynamics seamlessly from gentle to clangourous and back.

Joanna Lam
Joanna Lam

Monteiro returned for Moszkowski's Chanson Bohème, a virtuoso transcription of, mainly, the Gypsy Dance from the start of Act 2 of Bizet's Carmen linked back to the 'Alborada' with foot-stamping energy.

There was genuine Spanish music after the interval, with the Suite for solo cello by Gaspar Cassadó. Following her assertive opening, Monteiro explored the instrument's full range of both pitch and sonority. After bold dance rhythms in the Sardana second movement, she was keenly attentive to the finale's switches between gentle musing and a lively jota, before a spirited final flourish.

Kathryn Monteiro
Kathryn Monteiro

The two players came together again for Myaskovsky's pleasant but somewhat anonymous Cello Sonata No 2, with very little you could readily identify as specifically Russian. The gently lyrical first movement had Monterio first laying out the long cello lines, before the two players took the music into more impassioned territory. Monteiro found considerable eloquence in the cello's concluding unaccompanied phrase. A gentle account of the waltz-like second movement was followed by a finale full of scurrying cello figures and propulsive piano rhythms.

The recital ended with the Grand Tango Piazzolla dedicated to Rostropovich. The two players were incisive and driving in the opening, withdrawn in the quiet centre, and emphatic in the final section, with Lam clearly enjoying Piazzolla's crunchy harmonies.

Copyright © 2 February 2024 Mike Wheeler,
Derby UK



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