We swore we wouldn’t clog your in-box with every single performance of Clarke’s Sonata that comes down the pike, but here’s one that promises to be exceptionally—well, exceptional: the collaboration of Rachel Roberts and Tim Horton, in an one-night-only event at London’s Conway Hall, livestreamed on Sunday, January 24, 2021, at 6:30 p.m. Greenwich Mean Time (check here for your local equivalent). The Clarke Sonata forms the climax of a powerful program that also features Schumann’s Märchenbilder, the extraordinary Capriccio pour alto seul (“Hommage à Paganini”) of Henri Vieuxtemps, and Brahms’s Sonata in F minor, Op. 120, No. 1.
Roberts and Horton have made noteworthy recordings of much of this repertoire, albeit not with one another. In fact, it’s their separate accounts of the Brahms—Roberts’s here, with Lars Vogt, and Horton’s here, in a remarkable live performance with Robin Ireland—that made us eager to see what the two of them, together, might make of the Clarke, especially in that grave, still passage that so mesmerized the piece’s earliest critics: “It is in the third movement,” wrote one, “that the composer has shown her greatest genius, for here the music is mystical and macaber [sic], in places as poignant, as moving as anything heard in the death chamber of Melisande. The beauty of the opening theme of this movement first announced by the piano alone will not soon be forgotten” (New-York Tribune, January 27, 1920). Having heard Roberts and Horton plumb the depths of Brahms’s Andante un poco Adagio, we can’t wait.
Conway Hall itself is of great interest: founded in 1887, when secular “entertainments” on the Sabbath were still controversial, the Conway Hall Sunday Concerts series is the oldest thing of its kind in Europe. As far as we know, Clarke never played there, but she would have approved wholeheartedly of the fact that the architect’s brief for the present structure on Red Lion Square, opened in 1929, required an acoustic perfectly calibrated to a string quartet.
Book your reservations here. £10.00 donation requested for those twenty-six and older, and almost certainly a bargain—and probably a blessing—at any age.