Rhodri Clarke



Villazón was accompanied in this concert by the fantastic Bolivar Soloists, an international ensemble of twelve musicians (piano, guitar, violin, viola, cello, double bass, trumpet, flute, oboe, bassoon and two percussionists) led by the flautist Efrain Oscher, all of whom clearly shared the tenor’s genuine passion for the music and played with astonishing vitality and verve, with special mention due to Francisco Flores’s virtuoso trumpet playing and the very stylish pianist Rhodri Clarke.


The songs Villazón sang were either with the spirited accompaniment of Rhodri Clarke at the piano or in new arrangements for chamber ensemble by Efrain Oscher (flautist and leader of the Bolívar Soloists), Gonzalo Grau and composer Daniel Catán. The 12 talented Bolívar Soloists seemed a veritable United Nations of musicians and Villazón was keen to announce that the pianist was from Wales and the musician in control of the maracas was from Germany.

Rhodri Clarke followed with three solo pieces from Liszt’s Book 1 Years of Pilgrimage. These colourful portraits - The Chapel of William Tell, Storm and The Bells of Geneva call for exceptional virtuoso technique and Rhodri met these on every count, impassioned in The Storm and evocative in Geneva Bells. Wallfisch showed his solo cello mettle in the first of Bach’s Suites BWV.1007, a masterpiece of texture, structure, rhythm, form and lightness of colour, and the final piece, Prokofiev’s Sonata for Cello and Piano, Op.119 written for the young Mstislav Rostropovich. Composer and cellist were close friends and given the artistic strictures of the time the Sonata is orthodox and largely optimistic in tone. Both artists had the full measure of this spiky, cheeky work.

A Programme of English music performed by a Welsh duo made a highly welcome lunchtime concert at this year's Chester Summer MusicFestival.

Elizabeth Donovan has recently completed her course at the Royal Northern College of Music and was the Welsh entrant to this year's BBC Singer of the Year at Cardiff. She was accompanied by the incredibly accomplished Rhodri Clarke who is a post-graduate student at the Royal College of Music.

Britten's Poet's Echo,Op 76, was a triumph for the performers,Echo and The Angel particularly so. My Heart was broodingly intense, as was The Nightingale and the Rose.