Toad Lane Concerts: Isabel Williamson and Jonathan Ellis

Date published: 14 April 2024

Following the Easter break, the Toad Lane Concerts resumed with a highly qualified and experienced duo (both first class honours and postgraduates of the Royal Northern College of Music and Manchester University) in an inspiring and exquisite recital.

Freelance cellist Isabel Williamson works additionally as a teacher, session musician, creative artist and collaborator. She is also part of the indie band ‘Bonfire Tide’ and tours internationally with the folk-rock band ‘The Wishing Well’.

She was partnered today by pianist Jonathan Ellis who works extensively around the North West as soloist, accompanist, repetiteur, and chamber musician.

Their programme began with Beethoven’s Sonata in G minor Op. 5/2, which features the cello for the first time as an instrument in its own right (as opposed to doubling the bass or accompanying the piano). The two players were undoubtedly equally outstanding soloists who perform together superbly. This was elegant and stylish playing of a significant masterpiece.

Elegie in C minor by Fauré (later orchestrated by the composer) was also beautifully performed. The work’s solemn opening reaches a powerful, turbulent middle section before returning to the poignant elegy theme.

Schumann’s 3 Fantasiestücke Op. 73 were originally intended for clarinet and piano. However, the composer himself indicated that the clarinet part could also be played by violin or cello. Isabel’s glorious tone in the acoustic at St Mary’s, fully justified this.

The audience were completely captivated by this exceptional musicmaking. An encore was clearly called for and Mendelssohn’s Song without Words for cello and piano was a welcome choice (Isabel’s recording is available on YouTube).

The Queen’s Award-winning Toad Lane Concerts are every Wednesday at 12.30pm at St Mary in the Baum, Toad Lane, Rochdale, OL16 1DZ. Entrance fee is £6. No refreshments available. Contact 01706 648872 for further information.

To see details of forthcoming Toad Lane Concerts, click here.

Dr Joe Dawson

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