Whilst our original billing went into self-isolation, we were delighted to welcome performances from four pupils, due to undergo ABRSM music examinations in a week’s time. Jessica opened with Hindemith’s Praeludium (Ludus tonalis). This was a well-rehearsed performance with clear technical security. Despite the challenges of the piece, Jessica conveyed a great sense of understanding of the music, with the ominous descending phrases and bold ascents. Towards the end of the piece comes a stirring passage in the lower registers of the piano, this was played with a great feeling of momentum yet clarity. Performance requires some sympathy with the audience as they hear one’s performance with fresh ears; it is important to not lose sight of the ambiguities in each composition and relive them each time we perform.
From Obi, we first heard the minuet from Haydn’s Sonata in Eb major. Obi showed a nice sense of cantabile in his playing, in a melody that demands evenness and strength in the right hand. As typical for piano music of this era, the bold, narrow-spaced left hand chords featured several times marking a dynamic climax and were given the perfect amount of weight on the Steinway. Obi’s second piece was Elizabeth from Shulbrede Tunes by Hubert Parry. Here we saw great composure from Obi as he recovered from a brief lapse in focus without drawing attention to several false starts. As a highly expressive Romantic work, Obi used tempo rubato to great effect and generated a wonderful sense of ease and freedom in his playing. Finally, from the piano, we heard Prokofiev’s Ridicolosamente (Visions Fugitives, op. 22 no. 10). After the Romanticism of Parry, this was a wonderful palette-cleanser with great rhythmic clarity in the touch and good use of accents whilst also being energetic and playful.
At this point, the Steinway lid closed as it became the accompanying instrument for our two singers. Hattie gave a rendition of Si mes verse avaient des ailes by Reynaldo Hahn. This was a wonderfully confident performance from Hattie, who engaged the audience well with her body language. Her high notes appeared effortless and soared, putting wings on her words as described in Hugo’s text. We then heard two songs from Fabia as our final pieces on the programme. I wandered lonely as a cloud by Thiman has some luscious moments for singer and pianist; the enjoyment was palpable and the sense of the text communicated very well indeed by Fabia. The body language and audience engagement shown here represented Fabia performing at her very best. Her performance of Nuit d’Espagne by Massenet showed great warmth in tone and excellent clarity in the text. She really channelled the French vowels and tone-production to deliver a strong sense of line in her mid-range, which captivated those present and sent us on our way, imbued with a sense of contentment for the variety and quality that we witnessed.
Watch the recital here.