THE opening notes of Mendelssohn’s second Cello Sonata in D major immediately create a world of bravura, virtuosity and passion. This work is definitely no ‘warm-up piece’ for the main fare of a concert programme.

For this, the first work of the evening, both performers must straightaway take a dive into very technically demanding music, requiring enormous confidence.

Nathanial Boyd (cello) and Simon Lane (piano) met the challenge with alacrity in their performance at the Dance House, Crewkerne, the final concert in the three-day tour promoted by Concerts in the West.

The Mendelssohn sonata is not in anyway merely a work of technical fireworks.The slow Adagio movement with its long series of piano spread chords is possibly unique and, when played with care and understanding, allowing time and space to be part of the execution, then the passage is captivating.

Simon Lane and the Pleyel piano with its characteristic action and tone were a successful combination for the task. Eventually the cello enters, in a manner suggestive of recitative and treated with suitable care and warm sonorities by Nathanial Boyd and his early 18th century Italian instrument.

For the audience, one of the notable features of the concert was the obvious friendship of the two musicians who carry a shared sense of humour into their performances.

Beethoven in his C major Sonata Opus 102 gives opportunities for Boyd and Lane to exploit this. Originally written for a contemporary cellist, Joseph Linke, whose artistry was much admired, Beethoven invites the players to a quasi-fantasia in which they share a dialogue in the openings of the first and second movements.

In the cheerful final movement the partnership is given plenty of scope for amusing the audience. These included a number of unexpected piano and cello ‘snatches’ and games of tag.

Astor Piazzolla’s Le Grand Tango was no soft finale for Boyd and Lane, both being asked to keep a tight hold on the rhythmical reins of this modern fusion of the Argentinian tango, jazz and ‘classical’ strands.

Written in 1982 this piece was a constant delight for its listeners and completed an exhaustive expose of two accomplished musicians.

Review by Andrew Maddocks.