Solo concertos at St John’s Smith Square, London, 1/7/2015
CPE Bach A minor and Monn G minor
“…CPE Bach’s Concerto in a, opening in typical Empfindsamer Stil with an orchestral unison, immediately challenged by contrary-motion scales and a yearning melody for the solo cello followed by a motif built on rapidly repeated notes – a typical CPE Bach mix of colours and textures. The first movement ended with the first of Poppy Walshaw’s excellent cadenzas, all kept well within the bounds and style of the piece. In the slow movement, the sound of the solo cello was allowed to grow delicately out of the orchestral texture. The skittish final movement saw the cello finally break free from its former collaborative role with a virtuoso series of flourishes.
The second cello concerto, after the interval, was the little known Concerto in g by Georg Matthias Monn (aka. Johann Georg Mann). In the pre-classical Galant style, his slightly formulaic compositional style was balanced by some very tricky passages for the solo cellist, with wide-spaced melodic lines and leaps using the whole gamut of the cello. Poppy Walshaw dealt with all these challenges with apparent ease, relishing the technical complexities and flourishes. Her playing in both these concertos (a big ask for any soloist) demonstrated a natural and sensitive understanding of the music, and the importance of working with the orchestra, rather than challenging it…”
Andrew Benson-Wilson, Early Music Reviews
Haydn Trios for Flute, Violin and Cello, recorded in 2008 with Hajo Wienroth and Simon Standage.
Review published in CONCERTO: Das Magazin für Alte Musik, Germany’s leading Early Music Magazine, February/March 2010.
Joseph Haydn: Divertissements & Trios (London/Leipzig). Musikalische Traumreisen. Le Chardon: H. Wienroth (Trfl.), S. Standage (Vl.), P. Walshaw (Vc.). Lunaris (18240) (p)2009 (Vertrieb http://www.wienroth.net) CD
Le Chardon, geführt von seinem Gründer Hajo Wienroth, versteht dies glänzend und bietet alle die typisch Haydn’schen Finessen farbenreich dar. Bemerkenswert ist auch das Instrument, das Wienroth so bezaubernd bläst: die originale Klappenflöte eines anonymen Instrumentenbauers von ca. 1810. Sie besitzt einen wunderbar tragfähigen, dabei intensiven und trotzdem ausgewogenen feinen Klang, der Haydns Intentionen sicherlich wunderbar trifft. Begleitet wird Wienroth von Simon Standage, dessen ebenso engagierter wie klangschöner Violinstil geradezu ideal mit dem Ton der Flöte verschmilzt. Kongeniale Partnerin der beiden ist Poppy Walshaw auf einem englischen Violoncello von 1777, das einen eher zurückhaltenden, sehr filigranen Ton liefert. Das Klangbild der Aufnahme ist wunderbar eingefangen, nicht zu direkt, aber klar. So werden diese Haydn’schen Werke zu wahren Perlen aufpoliert und bieten einen Genuss von ganz besonderer Güte.
As Principal cellist and obbligato soloist for Sinfonia Britannica, 21/5/2016
“Vivaldi’s ‘Dixit Dominus’…has several beautiful instrumental features, including a duet which featured the stylist playing of the cellist Poppy Walshaw.”
From a blog Journal at http://www.russellgilmour.co.uk/blog/index.php?id=3749815626108088442
Viola da Gamba continuo, Dido and Aeneas with La Nuova Musica, 8/5/2016
“Purcell’s score shone under the orchestra led by Rodolfo Richter, featuring instruments from Purcell’s time including…the viola da gamba played by Poppy Walshaw. And in Dame Ann Murray’s voice, the famous final lament lost none of its power.” –The Argus, Brighton.
Quartet recital for Vernon Ellis, West London, 20/9/2016
The Italian word obbligato (from the verb obligare ‘to oblige’) in baroque classical music implies an instrumental part which is somehow indispensable to the performance, so in baroque arias it can indicate an instrument which takes on a quasi solo role equivalent to the vocal soloist, rather than accompanying. In this role, the obbligato instrument was used extensively by Bach (think of all those arias in the passions) and Handel. Last night, 20 September 2016, we heard a private performance of a recital entitled The Art of the Obbligato performed by mezzo-soprano Eleanor Minney, violinist Davina Clarke, cellist Poppy Walshaw and harpsichordist Tom Forster which explored music written by Handel and Bach, showing how these two composers used the concept of the solo instrument performing alongside the voice.
From Handel we heard three of his Nine German Arias, ‘Süßer Blumen Ambraflocken’ HWV204, ‘Süße Stille, sanfte Quelle’ HWV205 and ‘Flammende Rose, Zierde der Erden’ HWV210. These are some of Handel’s few mature works setting his native German.
There was a selection of arias from Bach’s cantatas, with ‘Vergnügte Ruh, beliebte Seelenlust’ BWV 170 from the cantata of that name, ‘Christi Glieder, ach bedenket’ from the cantata Bereitet die Wege, bereitet die Bahn, BWV 132, and ‘Öffne dich, mein ganzes Herze’ from the cantata Nun komm, der Heiden Heiland, BWV 61, plus the Allegro from the Sonata No. 3 for Violin and Obbligato Harpsichord, BWV 1016, ‘Erbarme dich’ from the St Matthew Passion, and the ‘Laudamus te’ from the Mass in B Minor. The four performers took it in turns to introduce the music, giving us background and creating a greater sense of communication with the audience.
Most of the works we heard showed the way the composers used an obbligato violin to decorate, comment on and dialogue with the vocal line, but the aria ‘Öffne dich, mein ganzes Herze’ had no violin part and instead gave the cello a measure of independence. In the second movement of Bach’s violin sonata we heard a different type of obbligato, here Bach used the term to indicate that the harpsichord part was fully written out rather than using figured bass, and in fact Bach effectively gives us a trio sonata with the harpsichord playing two of the parts.
Eleanor Minney sang with clear, plangent tones bringing a nice flexibility to the sometimes elaborate vocal lines, finely complemented by Davina Clarke’s violin playing. But what made the performances special was that the players gave us a real sense of chamber music, with a fine interaction between all four of them with each line involving in its own way yet part of a satisfying whole. And it was striking hearing the music in such an intimate setting with just four performers.