Iffley Music Society

Iffley Church

By Giles Woodforde


A new sonata that sells 1,500 copies in just a few months: any music publisher is going to be quite happy with that sales record. But then the composer involved was Grieg, and the Sonata - his no 3 in C minor - turned out to be full of attractive Norwegian folk melodies and rhythms. The movements are headed Appassionato, Romanza, and Animato, instructions that were firmly obeyed by violinist Linda Hannah-Andersson, and pianist Robert Markham in this Iffley Music Society concert.

The piano accompaniment in the first movement sometimes suggested a swiftly moving stream, while there were some colourful pizzicato passages later on, which the piano jokily imitated. Here, and often elsewhere, the two players seemed excellently in touch with each other's approach, but there were times when the piano was at risk of swamping the violin.

Linda Hannah-Anderson described Bach's E major Partita for solo violin as his "most French" in style. "He doesn't use meat and potato dances here," she added, contrasting this work with Bach's other suites and partitas. Beginning with an expansive and familiar Preludio - it's also a favourite organ piece - the succession of dance movements had Hannah-Andersson sounding a bit edgy to begin with, her tone rather more Germanic than French to my ear. But as Gavotte followed Loure, she seemed to relax into the music - a troublesome G string on her violin cannot have helped at the start.

Musicians love to tell you that Beethoven's Kreutzer Sonata no 9 in A major is a bit tricky to play - or as pianist Robert Markham put it on this occasion, it is "unprecedented in its difficulty". Markham and Hannah-Anderson are no cowards, however, and they set off at a risky pace, with exhilarating, almost fearsome, contributions from the violin. The violinist gets the occasional breather in the Andante - there was some beautiful playing from Markham here - while a light-hearted finale brought this most satisfying concert to a conclusion.

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