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TWO CONCERTS, Tranchell, The Cambridge Review, 16th May 1953

Last Thursday week we had the pleasure of hearing Antonia Butler (’cello), Norman Greenwood (piano) and Frederick Thurston (clarinet) playing trios by Beethoven and Benjamin Fraenkel, and duos by Brahms and Fauré. The Fraenkel came last on the programme, which was not fair to it, especially as a large chunk of extremely strong Brahms immediately preceded it I refrain therefore from saying it was banal—I merely say comparisons are malodorous.

It is a delight to hear players so constantly productive of sweet sound and apt intonation as Butler and Thurston. I am almost convinced that one or two odd sounding high cello notes in the Fauré (op. 117 in G minor) were deliberately misplayed in order to draw attention to the faultless and exquisite playing of the rest. One forgives anything in the name of eloquence.

There was an exciting moment in the Brahms (op. 99 in F), when it seemed Butler’s whole cello would be shattered to bits, so forcibly did she pizzicate. Her fingers were like the beak of some irascible parrot tussling with the bars of its cage. However, all passed off without mishap.

Last Sunday afternoon, in the Guildhall, we heard a concert performance of Mozart’s Don Giovanni by the Chelsea Opera Group. It was delicious. The orchestra was lively, and Thomas Hemsley as the Don, Elizabeth Crook as Donna Anna, Doreen Murray as Donna Elvira, and Gladys Whitrid as Zerlina sang admirably. Space precludes mention of all the names. Suffice it to say, we would very much prefer the Group to come again and do the thing properly one day, with stage and costume, because there is nothing so exhausting as having to listen to the music all the time.

Peter Tranchell