The March meeting of the Shipston Music Society featured cellist Tom Pickles, a graduate of the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire with accompanist Charles Matthews. During his time at the Conservatoire Tom was the winner of several prizes and awards and since then has performed in venues around the country.
From the first notes of Frank Bridge’s “Four Short Pieces” one was captivated by the deep, sonorous tone quality of Tom’s playing. The “Sonata no 2” by Francis Routh (present-day composer) is a powerful work displaying the wide compass of the cello and possible dynamic range. This was played with feeling and a real understanding of the music. At the end of the month Tom will perform it again at a concert with Francis Routh present. Then followed Sonata in D minor by Debussy and, after the interval, “Threnos” by John Tavener with its slow, elegiac opening featuring adjacent notes sounding together – one of Tavener’s “thumb prints”. Tom gave us a wonderful performance of it.
The programme ended with “Sonata in F, op.5” by Beethoven in which the final movement, Rondo, is marked Allego vivace. It was certainly played with great panache and skill by both performers and the superb synchronisation of Charles with his soloist in the extremely fast scale passages left us all breathless. After rapturous applause Tom returned and brought us “down to earth” with an encore of unaccompanied Bach to conclude a memorable evening of music for cello and piano by composers from the early 19th century to the present day.