Nicholas Yonge Society

International Chamber Music in Lewes

Riya (Cello) and Berniya Hamie (Piano)

23 February 2024
Debussy Cello ​Sonata in D minor
Beethoven Piano Sonata No. 23 in F minor Op.57 ‘Appassionata’
Beethoven Variations on 'Bei Männern' for cello and piano
Brahms Cello Sonata No.2 in F major Op.99

The Hamie sisters made a welcome return at short notice to give us another evening of first class music making.  They began with an eloquent performance of the Debussy sonata making the most of all its change of moods and sounds, sometimes wistful and questioning, sometimes fluid and quirky.
After a moment of quiet at the piano Berniya began Beethoven’s ‘Appassionata’ sonata with breathtaking ppp in the opening arpeggios, changing key and evoking a feeling of threatening uncertainty with the triplet motif knocking at the door until the opening bars return with a mighty fff.  Contrasting these with bars of urgent pp trills in the right hand and repeated notes in the left, Berniya captured the sheer force of this movement with widely contrasting dynamics eventually fading away to nothing in the final descending arpeggios over a shimmering tremolo.  Then nothing.  Nobody moved.  The silence was audible.  The simple slow movement was beautifully played after the preceding storms, gradually developing through the variations leading into the passionate Allegro and the final tempestuous Presto.  This was a brilliant and mature performance from a young and most talented pianist.  Watch this space.

Then followed Beethoven’s delightful variations on a theme from Mozart’s Magic Flute played with charm and gentle humour in the dialogue between the instruments.  In contrast the Brahms F major cello sonata is a big work demanding much from both players. It is wonderfully rich and broad, with sweeping lines and long phrases played here with great attention to detail and ensemble.  Riya’s sensitive playing explored the full sonority of the cello from the lowest depths to the high more lyrical sounds. The surprising choice of F sharp major for the slow movement brings out the tenderness as the music becomes more of a lament. But the fiery scherzo which follows gives way to a more spacious and lyrical middle section (thank you, Hamies, for not stopping on the editor’s pause between the two!) before returning to the urgency of the scherzo.  The final movement brings reconciliation and an altogether happier mood.  

These two instrumentalists sharing so much musical talent are already on the way to a great future.  Thank you to the NYS for bringing them here.  

Review​er: Sylvia Coward

Photograp​her: David James