On Saturday March 5th, an enthusiastic audience came to listen to Keswick Music Society’s first concert of their Spring 2022 programme at St. John’s Church. Sophie Rosa, violin, and Ian Buckle, piano, are young and dynamic players based in Manchester. Both have varied and distinguished careers as soloists and chamber musicians, and they offered a fascinating programme. Since Covid the Theatre by the Lake can no longer provide regular times for concerts, which is a loss for the town, but there was an unexpected bonus in this change of venue: the tone of the Society’s piano, moved to its new home and excellent acoustics of St. John’s, seemed to many of the audience to sing as never before.
The musicians played superbly: a Schumann sonata, a group of English miniature pieces and Beethoven’s Spring Sonata, were highly applauded, but the programme, agreed months ago, intriguingly also included a sonata by the Ukrainian composer Valentin Silvestrov. Silvestrov was born in Kyiv when it was still part of the Soviet Union and though well-known, his career later faded partly because of his opposition in 1974 to the invasion of Czechoslovakia. It was a beautifully thoughtful and introspective work, fascinating to hear for the first time; though it is sad that interest in an unfamiliar composer is overshadowed by the ongoing tragic news. The bowl at the back of the church for donations to the Red Cross Ukraine Crisis appeal was generously filled.