By Tim Homfray – The Strad
Tim Homfray watches a Facebook performance on 19 March from the comfort of his own armchair.
Watch the concert here (Facebook)
At the beginning of March London concerts started to be cancelled as the spread of coronavirus put paid to artists’ travels. By mid-month there would have been nowhere for them to play, as one after another the concert halls closed down. So we cast online and further afield, and instead of Wigmore Hall I sat in my study and listened to a short recital by violinist Eldbjørg Hemsing and pianist Sveinung Bjelland from Norway in what looked like a living room. And most entertaining it was too, once I’d spent five minutes mastering the necessary technology (not my strong point). There was one camera, one microphone, Hemsing gave charming introductions to each piece, and it all worked splendidly.
They opened with the Allegretto quasi Andantino second movement from Grieg’s F major Sonata op.8, plaintive and lively, and followed it with an affecting account of ‘Våren’ from his Two Elegiac Melodies op.34. Hemsing performed Ølstein Sommerfeldt’s Sonata Saxifraga, increasingly virtuosic and with many double-stops and left-hand pizzicatos, with verve and gentleness, after which a few people could be heard clapping – so she wasn’t playing to an empty room. After the ‘Méditation’ from Massenet’s Thaïs came a passionate account of the second movement of Grieg’s Third Sonata and finally a joyous performance of the opening movement of his second. I didn’t miss Wigmore Hall at all.