Toad Lane Concerts: Johanna Leung clarinet Ellada Pavlou piano

Date published: 12 May 2022

Two more rising stars of the music world entertained and enlightened the midday music-goers at St Mary in the Baum on Wednesday 27 April. Clarinettist Johanna Leung graduated with a master’s from the RNCM (Royal Northern College of Music) and has worked with several orchestras including The Halle. She is also an active solo and chamber performer with a particular interest in contemporary music.

From early successes in the 66th Hong Kong School Music Festival, later Johanna achieved 2nd prize in the senior solo category of the 2019 Buffet Crampon Clarinet Competition and Help Musician Postgraduate Award 2020.

Greek pianist Ellada-Angelina Pavlou recently completed her master’s and a Postgraduate Diploma at the RNCM, having previously graduated from Trinity-Laban Conservatoire of Music in London. She has won prizes in several international piano competitions, including a scholarship to the semi-annual Philadelphia International Music Festival.

She is a skilled pianist and accompanist and proved to be an excellent partner to Johanna, bringing confident support and sympathetic cooperation.

They began with Premiere Rhapsodie by Debussy. This 1911 work alternates between dream-like contemplation and vigorous energy and was an excellent vehicle for them.

This was contrasted by a sparkling modern piece for clarinet alone entitled Kaleidoscope by contemporary composer Flowers Tannenbaum. Johanna has collaborated with the composer many times and clearly revelled in this challenging piece that requires stamina, dexterity and command of the extremes of the instrument.

Their tour de force was Sonata for Clarinet and Piano Opus 120 No.2 in E flat by Brahms. This is one of a pair of sonatas where Brahms was inspired late in life by the musical possibilities of the clarinet. Both players took us on a journey through three movements of richly contrasted moods from reflective to dramatic and passionate.

An added treat was an ideally suited encore, the first movement of Sonata in D by Nino Rota (who wrote the score for the film Godfather II).

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 now, but the venue is Covid-19 compliant. Contact 01706 648872 for further information.

To see the May 2022 programme, click here.

Dr Joe Dawson

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