The third concert in Kendal’s Midday Concert Club current series was given by cellist, Christian Elliott, and pianist, Robin Green, writes CLIVE WALKLEY.

As usual, a large audience was present to hear yet another fine recital by two highly experienced performers. Christian Elliott is the principal cellist of the Irish Chamber Orchestra and a member of several chamber ensembles; he is also a composer. Robin Green is a prizewinning pianist and now enjoys a full time career as soloist, chamber musician, conductor and teacher.

Two works were on the programme: Beethoven’s early G minor Cello Sonata, Op 5 No 2 (a change to the advertised programme) and Brahms’ Cello Sonata No1 in E minor.

In his early cello sonatas, Beethoven stretched the pianist’s technique beyond that required for the early piano sonatas: in short, there is a lot of rapid passage work which requires nimble fingers and careful balancing with the cello. But Robin Green made passages that give many an amateur pianist a headache appear effortless, the hallmark, of course, of a real artist. In a similar way, although perhaps not as technically challenging as the later cello sonatas, the cellist is required to demonstrate full command of his technique and to play as an equal partner with the piano. This Christian Elliott did.

Throughout the concert there was a wonderful sense of rapport between the two artists and this was demonstrated in the opening of Beethoven’s sonata. The slow opening section is dramatic with its sudden dynamic explosions, contrasts between long smooth melodic lines and more dotted rhythms and, in the final bars, long rests for both players; these are unsettling and create a sense of uncertainty for the listener. All this material and much of what followed, was subtly understated: Beethoven’s dynamic markings were never taken to the extreme as can happen given the power of modern instruments. The following allegro was exciting and the playful character of the rondo finale was a sheer delight.

Brahms’ E minor sonata was a well-chosen work to balance the Beethoven. Again, restraint was a characteristic of this performance. One of the qualities that stood out was the beauty and delicacy of Robin Green’s pianissimo playing; another was the ability of both players to sustain Brahms’ lovely melodic lines. The final movement, a demonstration of Brahms’ contrapuntal mastery was exciting as both players wrestled with the fugue subject. The sense of competition as the melodic material passed between them was fully realised making this a thrilling end to a fine concert.