Wallfisch/York Duo

“… Wallfisch gives the finest account on cello I’ve ever heard… and York voices every line with superb clarity and coherence, so crucial in this turbulent work…” BBC Music Magazine, September 2016



Biography

The Wallfisch/York cello and piano duo dates back over 35 years. Although they had sometimes played together before 1982, Raphael’s regular duo partner was his late father, the wonderful pianist Peter Wallfisch. John might occasionally take over his role, if a foreign trip seemed too stressful or clashed with Peter’s own concerts or with his professorial duties at the Royal College of Music in London.

It was therefore not inappropriate for John to step in, especially when Peter became ill. Concerts became a constant flow and, following Peter’s sad death, they established the Wallfisch/York duo on a permanent basis. Major festivals in the UK and abroad invited them to play. Recordings were made, London recitals given and foreign tours undertaken, from Bermuda to Turkey, Germany to Australia, Oman to Norway. The Wallfisch/York duo have recorded all five Beethoven sonatas and three sets of variations on Nimbus NI 5741/2 – and to this they added Czerny’s authorized cello version of the towering, brilliant ‘Kreutzer’ Sonata Op.47 and Beethoven’s own cello version of the attractive and rarely played horn Sonata Op.17, this coupling on Cello Classics CC 1014. An all-Poulenc disc on ASV/Black Box presents, along with the cello and piano sonata, all the shorter pieces and some songs arranged by John.

The repertoire Wallfisch and York have recorded and perform is extensive, arguably unmatched by any duo in the profession. It ranges across the entire spectrum from Bach onward to the latest works written for them by leading British composer James MacMillan. John’s own Cello Sonata also features in their programmes. Great masterpieces, popular and neglected Romantic works, long-forgotten sonatas, notably their world-première recording of Zemlinsky’s long-lost and very fine early sonata and short pieces, found among Raphael’s father’s papers and now republished, alongside works by Korngold and Goldmark.

The Duo has recorded Nimbus albums of the complete Chopin, Grieg, Kodaly, Delius, Liszt, Schumann etc., and all this repertoire is supplemented with brilliant arrangements, new commissions, opera fantasies, enlightening programming and programme notes. In 2017 their Nimbus recording of the complete Ernest Bloch works, which includes an early unpublished sonata, was issued following the 2016 release of another disc covering all the published and unpublished cello works of Rebecca Clarke – and including another work of John’s. Wallfisch/York’s Chopin CD was hailed as number 2 in Gramophone Magazine’s all-time top ten Chopin discs.

Recent seasons have seen the Duo perform in London at Kings Place, in the Netherlands, in Ripon and Exeter cathedrals, the latter concert being a major Holocaust Memorial event which was also given in the Berlin Bundestag – and at several festivals, large and small, around the UK.
2018/19 sees the Duo giving concerts in Zurich and Bucharest and around the UK as well as on the BBC and at the Wigmore Hall.
   
Wallfisch/York CD releases ‘in the pipeline’ and due for release in 2018 will be of the complete sonatas of Brahms and Martinů and an important première recording of the mid-20th century cello works of Karl Weigl.

Reviews

“Raphael Wallfisch, cellist, and pianist John York present a siren voice of seductive beauty” (Rebecca Clarke, Music for Cello and Piano – Lyrita)

**** Financial Times, August 2016

‘Raphael Wallfisch and John York work hand in glove to deliver an expressive account of the Sonata…" (Music for Cello & Piano, Bloch)

****BBC Music Magazine, Oct 2017

“… playing with such vindicatory zest. Wallfisch embraces the opening ’s impetuosity and the impish humor of the Ravelian third movement. But what serves him best of all is his full-bodied tone which, together with York’s delicate pianism, locks into the music’s poignancy…. Wallfisch and York are in their element when negotiating the second movement, the work’s epicentre… the urgency they bring to the opening or the grace with which they handle the third movement’s cross-rhythms… Even to the smaller works […] they bring a weight that demonstrates total commitment to Clarke’s cause.” (Rebecca Clarke, Music for Cello and Piano – Lyrita)

Gramophone, September 2016

“… Wallfisch gives the finest account on cello I’ve ever heard… Wallfisch delivers a beautiful adagio and York voices every line with superb clarity and coherence, so crucial in this turbulent work…” **** (Rebecca Clarke, Music for Cello and Piano. John York, piano – Lyrita)

BBC Music Magazine, September 2016

”… It’s difficult to know why some performances can be singled out as something special, but when the artists have supreme greatness they exude an embracing confidence. Raphael and John had no need for flamboyant gestures or exaggerated rubati… perfectly achieved… remarkable… The mellow tones of the cello flowed through beautiful melodic lines and the ebb and flow balance with the piano was exquisite without being saccharine… However many renderings or times one had heard this work previously [ Brahms sonata no.in D], this was a moment to treasure… sublime… Beethoven’s 4th Cello Sonata opened with an Andante that in the hands of Wallfisch and York was a smooth balanced dream… The audience were spellbound…” (Cello & piano recital, John York piano – NADSA, 24 Jan 2016)

Jeff Collman, NASDA, 26th January 2016

”…Wallfisch’s playing was unwaveringly eloquent: the phrasing exquisitely tailored, the tone refined, the musicianship expressive and fluent… York was a discreet presence, never overpowering and at times remarkably lucid… York’s supple accompaniment figures did much to draw in the listener… much beautifully expressive and suave phrasing, particularly in the quieter passages for the cello… Wallfisch’s double-stopped melodies were gloriously rich and sonorous… Wallfisch’s crafting of the melodic arguments was wonderfully appealing… In particular, Wallfisch’s dark lower register resonated powerfully… the effortless seductiveness of Wallfisch’s tone… both performers displayed remarkable technical assurance and expressive mellifluousness… Wallfisch played beautifully.” ( Raphael Wallfisch and John York at Kings Place, October 2016

Seen & Heard, 29th October 2016