The Strad Issue: January 2010
Musicians: Jamie Walton (cello) Daniel Grimwood (piano)
Composer: Strauss, Brahms, Thuille

A wonderfully exuberant Strauss Sonata opens this disc, the second of the British duo’s Romantic sonata series. Daniel Grimwood writes in the booklet of the ‘fiendish piano and awkward cello writing’, but there’s no hint of this in their performance. Jamie Walton’s 1712 Guarneri soars expressively in the Andante, and the spirit of Till Eulenspiegel is already evident in the Allegro vivo, whose false starts and cheeky humour are aided by well-judged rubato.

Walton keeps a light touch for the C-string opening of Brahms’s E minor Sonata, creating a pleasingly soft tone colour. His ability to make even a single note deeply expressive comes into its own in the more fragmented phrases, and, after a poised Menuetto, the trio with its sotto voce repeats has a yearning expressiveness. The finale’s opening octaves fire out like bullet shots, with Walton’s playing punchy and athletic.

The turbulent, concerto-like piano part of the sonata by Strauss’s friend Ludwig Thuille is passionately played by Grimwood. It is Walton’s focused, earthy cello sound that opens the work, however, and he enjoys some unashamedly heart-on-sleeve melodies in the Adagio. The restless Allegro with its chromatic touches and dotted rhythms makes a well-characterised finale.