Edward Bhesania hears the performance of Beethoven, Amy Beach and Strauss at London’s Wigmore Hall on 29 October 2023
In this Wigmore Hall Sunday Morning Concert, Chloë Hanslip and Danny Driver delivered a pre-lunch concert equivalent of a roast with all the trimmings. To start with, the partnership is strong: the two seamlessly trading phrases in the first movement of Beethoven’s Violin Sonata op.12 no.1 and matching each other in brilliance and, in the movement’s development, in richer tonal shading. The precision of Hanslip’s left hand in fast passages was striking and she infused accompanying figures with as much care as ‘solo’ material. If there was just a shade of relaxed lyricism missing, that wasn’t the case in Amy Beach’s Romance, Hanslip sinking gratifyingly into its bygone-era salonesque idiom and offering generous bottom-string richness.
Strauss’s sonata was the showstopper, though. Hanslip’s expression was effusive in the first movement, which both players kept charged with driving momentum. Blazing climaxes took on a thrilling, almost Expressionistic edge. After a reflective, lyrical second movement, the finale brought more fireworks; Danny Driver’s contribution – offering dynamic, precise and intelligent playing of the fiendish, orchestrally conceived piano part – was remarkable. It was a performance to set the blood racing: just the thing to work up an appetite.