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Devizes Festival: Philip Higham and Nicola Eimer, Town Hall
2:36pm Tuesday 19th June 2012 in Theatre & Arts
Cellist Philip Higham studied at the Royal Northern College of Music.
In 2010 he won second prize in the Berlin Grand Prix Competition adding to two first prizes in earlier international competitions.
He recently made his debut as soloist with the Academy of St Martin in the Fields and the Vienna Chamber Orchestra.
Pianist Nicola Eimer, a graduate of the Juilliard School in New York, has performed as soloist and chamber musician across Europe and America.
In recent years she won the Tillett Trust Young Artists Platform Award and the Royal Overseas League Piano Competition, and was a prize-winner at the John Lill Piano Competition. She teaches piano and chamber music at the Royal Academy of Music.
So as you would expect this was no amateur performance.
Starting with a polished Mendelssohn's Cello Sonata No 1, they received spontaneous applause after the first movement. But for me the highlight was Schubert's famous Arpeggione sonata, a joyous piece whose first movement never ends, although it has several glottal stops (which thankfully the audience didn't applaud at).
It honestly held up well compared to the famous Rostropovich and Britten recording. The tone of Philip's 250 year old cello and the understanding with Nicola - almost telepathy because they faced away from each other - was wonderful.
After the interval they continued with the passionate Drei Fantasiestücke by Schumann and ended with the positive Cello Sonata by Beethoven. So the four pieces were interest from Mendelssohn, joyous rapture from Schubert, passion from Schumann and positive uplift from Beethoven - as Robert said, "quite a lot of music".
After strong applause they encored the second Fantasiestück. Clearly Robert and Nicola enjoyed themselves; they were also impressed with the surrounds of the Town Hall.
Fantastic playing by both of them and a great first classical event of the Festival.