The third and final event was held on the first Saturday of July and featured a beautifully balanced programme of Beethoven, Schumann and Rachmaninoff works for cello and piano.
The Elizabethan country house venue is a perfect setting for a picnic prior to the performances. The day had been blisteringly hot but a cooling breeze over the lyrical landscape of the South Downs made the picnic and prosecco an ideal prelude for the concert.
The heat must have helped Andrei Ioniţă to achieve the rich, deep, warm sound his seventeenth-century Rogeri cello produced as he played with adroit ease Schumann’s Fantasiestücke, Op. 73 and Rachmaninov’s Sonata in G minor, Op.19. The choice of pieces also gave Naoko Sonoda equal footing on the piano as the dialogue between the instruments develops through the music. The Japanese collaborative pianist tacked Rachmaninov’s daunting handspans with ease during the expansive, passionate and wistfully beautiful movements of the piece.
Andrei’s performance was a visceral one, pushing air out loudly and emptying his lungs fully at times, as if breathing for his cello, he carried us through Beethoven’s Sonata on C Major no. 4, Opus 102, as it progressed from the slow movements to their, sometimes, ecstatic conclusion. Whether is was the heat or deference to the delicate Peter Lely ladies portrayed on the walls of the concert room, it was thankfully a more subdued affair.
After they enraptured us with the scheduled performance we called them back for an encore – a second Robert Schumann piece which proved difficult to introduce – it seems there is no English translation for the German composer's direction for the delicate and uplifting work they played. While I can believe that, I took solace in the fact that we had, only a few hours earlier, progressed further that the German football team in the World Cup. Now what’s German for schadenfreude?
The BBC is broadcasting one of the previous concerts from the series in two parts on Radio 3 on July 28 at 9.30pm and September 8 at 6.30pm.