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S & H Recital Review

Sergey Rachmaninov: Sonata in G minor for cello & piano, Op.19 Bela Bartok: Contrasts (violin, clarinet and piano) Thomas Ades: Catch Eleonora Bekova (piano) Elvira Bekova violin Alfia Bekova cello Anthony Pike clarinet Purcell Room 15 December 2001 (PGW)

Famous in the USSR and used to playing to huge audiences there, the Bekova Sisters made a stir when they came to UK a decade or so ago. It was sad that they attracted only a few to the Purcell Room for an adventurous programme; the sort which attracts a critic and deters the punters. They are very accomplished players, individually and as a trio, the latter format only for their encore, a delectable arrangement of a Waltz from Prokofiev's War & Peace.

Rachmaninov's sonata for cello and piano should really be described as for piano and cello (as too the Beethoven Op 5 sonatas). Alfia Bekova's tone is a little on the small side for complete projection of this major statement, but her sister always ensured that she remained audible. There was a similar problem with Contrasts, the clarinet too dominant most of the time; otherwise, neatly played and very enjoyable provided you kept your eyes on the violinist to augment what reached the ears; it is important in preparation to have a neutral extra person to advise on balance difficulties. Catch is a nice quartet piece which rings the changes on various possible combinations of the four instruments, but as once before I found myself unconvinced by the walking-around the hall antics required of the clarinettist; it goes just as well invisibly on CD! (EMI 7243 5 69699 2 6)

Peter Grahame Woolf

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