Review: Beethoven at St Peter’s Church, Burnley

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Two Lancashire-based musicians, Jeremy Lamburn (cello) and Nigel Spooner (piano) played Beethoven at St Peter’s Church.

The first sonata, written when the composer was 25, put the emphasis on the piano which was the common practice in the late 18th Century. The cello does, however, open a singing melody, dropping down into concord with the piano. This leads to a dance element and then a quiet lyrical passage. What begins as a coda then re-visits the whole of the earlier movement, the pianist being obliged to offer what in Mozart’s time might well have been called “too many notes.”

The second and final movement takes the form of a Rondo, jolly and light-hearted. This develops into a fast, joyous finale.

The fifth sonata from 20 years later finds the two instruments on more equal terms. Demonstrative piano begins with the melody on the cello. This leads to real dialogue. Variations on the introduction move to a vigorous finish.

The second movement Adagio is the only true slow passage Beethoven wrote for this combination. The cello takes a note and pushes it up to an etherial high. On return to earth, a fugue builds up slowly to a driving finish. Jeremy and Nigel are professional musicians of good standing. The St Peter’s audience is always appreciative of such substantial fare.