07th April 2015

Howard Assembly Room – 20 March 2015

The audience at the Howard Assembly Room, Leeds, witnessed a piece of history tonight as cellist Natalie Clein (pictured above)and harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani took to the stage to perform in public together for the very first time.

Opening with Sonata No. 6 in B flat major RV 46 by Vivaldi reveals, at once, that Clein and Esfahani are up there with the best of them. Their attention to detail is incredible and note perfect. Three pieces by György Kurtág for solo cello follow and, although experimental in nature, are of great interest. Clein’s touch has to be seen to be believed here, as her mastery of her instrument shines through. Bringing the first half to a close with Sonata in G major for viola da gamba – transcribed here for cello – and harpsichord, BWV 1027, by J. S. Bach shows why the composer is held in such high esteem. The word here is astonishing.

Following a short interval, Esfahani returns to the stage with a quiz. How many Bach’s were there and how many could he name in 60 seconds? You’d be surprised just how many there are and how many he managed to get. No spoilers here!

On with the music and it’s the turn of W.F. Bach, J.S. Bach’s son, to make an appearance in the form of the Sonata in E flat major for harpsichord, F 201, which is very reminiscent of his father’s work. György Kurtág’s contemplative Sonata for Solo Cello comes next, before we return to the Bach family with C.P.E. Bach’s Variations on ‘La Follia d’Espagne’ in D minor, WQ 118, which is a delight, and ending with J.S. Bach’s Sonata in G minor BWV 1029. Simply put, a stunning and perfect way to send tonight’s audience home fully satisfied.

A joy from start to finish.

Written by Kevin Petch