James Fraser Andrews reviews The Perseus Duo featuring former Shrewsbury School pupil Galin Ganchev on piano and Anthony Poon, violin.
In the week that Shrewsbury School welcomed back Michael Palin - one Old Salopian who shone intriguing lights on distant worlds - another of newer vintage returned to do the same for a bewrapt audience in an evening of intrepid musical exploration and partnership.
Galin Ganchev (M 2011-2016), one of The Schools’ most talented pianists in its history, returned to his old stomping ground to showcase his unique musicality alongside fellow Royal Academy graduate, violinist Anthony Poon, in a pairing for whom an exciting future clearly beckons.
The Mozart opener, Sonata no.32 in B flat K454, sparkled with immaculate playing and precision teamwork to produce a performance of winning, pearlsome cheek. We were guided into far darker climes with Chausson’s landmark Poème to close the second half. Its solo introductions marking out a journey of late Romantic soulful alienation in this programmatic ‘chant de l’amour’ that eventually arrives into melodies of ethereal, expressive beauty. Originally written for the legendary violinist Eugène Ysaye, Poon wonderfully captured the song-like warmth and final sublimating passion of its final section to leave the audience transported a universe away from our little corner of Shropshire.
Polished endings are a hallmark of this pair – such is the mutuality that they breathe as one. The conclusion to Dvorak’s Romance in F minor, op.11 was remarkably achieved, and so much could be enjoyed as they negotiated their way through a blending of textures that combined the slow trot of arpeggiated accompaniment with the dextrous energy of impassioned, powerful, virtuosic turbulence.
Brahms D Minor sonata demands so much from both instruments – it is written for piano and violin – yet this duo delivered with aplomb, filling the auditorium with a masterful balance of bold colour and sylph-like grace.
This partnership positively crackles with vigour, borne from an unerring sense for emotional detail. Two contrasting encores completed the evening – a dreamy Heifetz miniature and a roistering tarantella from Sarasate that blistered the brickwork in the Maidment, and left us floored, agape at the these two stratospheric talents in one astonishing team. Another superb evening from the Shropshire Music Trust. Let’s hope the Perseus venture back.