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Review: West End Festival

Catherine Manson/Alasdair Beatson

Catherine Manson/Alasdair Beatson

Cottiers, Glasgow

Michael Tumelty

I ARRIVED at the Cottier Theatre on Tuesday for the 8.30pm concert to be met by a storm of applause for the 6.30pm concert, featuring the SCO Winds and just finishing. The crowd that poured out was raving about it. (The SCO Winds are always outstanding.) But what followed in the 8.30pm concert, after a dose of piano tuning and a change of audience, left people speechless.

For years I have been raving about Alasdair Beatson, to my mind one of the supreme chamber pianists of the day. His discretion in chamber and instrumental music, along with his sensitivity as an accompanist and his nuancing and balancing as a collaborator with other instrumentalists, sets him apart. I'll never forget the first interview I had with him, where he described the role of the pianist in chamber and instrumental music as "guardian of the textures".

That rang in my mind on Tuesday throughout his extraordinary recital with the amazing violinist Catherine Manson, leader of the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra, who transcended all stylistic boundaries in wondrous performances of three of Beethoven's Violin Sonatas: one of the opus12 Sonatas, the opus 23 in A minor, and the great Spring Sonata, a work which sings.

Manson's playing, of an astounding clarity of articulation and a wonderful purity of style, revealed more of Beethoven's thinking, approach and intention for the violin sonata as a species than I have heard.

And Beatson's infinitely subtle and almost indescribably well-balanced accompaniments took the whole experience to a new level.

This was class; sheer class; and world class at that. And all this in a little converted church in the west end of Glasgow.

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