In a clever piece of programming, Form 7 pianist Paul chose to play Schubert’s Impromptu in G flat major bookended by two Rachmaninoff Preludes in this week’s lunchtime recital in All Saints. Starting with the Russian composer’s most famous Prelude, op. 3 no. 2 in C # minor, Paul immediately conveyed the work’s tragic grandeur with a strong opening bass line and poised chorale-like chords. After an impressively virtuosic faster middle section, a bombastic return to the chords in both hands saw Paul bring a huge sound from the piano!
In immediate contrast to this, the beautiful sound that Paul created from the very opening of Schubert’s Impromptu op. 90 no. 3 set the tone for a magical journey of right hand melody above arpeggiated chords in both hands. The lyricism and phrasing of this little masterpiece may well have brought to mind for many listeners that Schubert is the tradition’s greatest composer of songs.
The recital concluded with another of Rachmaninoff’s most celebrated solo piano works, the G minor Prelude op. 23 no. 5. Paul brought a great sense of excitement and abandon to the prelude’s opening march, with the contrasting slower lyrical middle section showing Rachmaninoff at the emotional heights known so well from his second piano concerto. The return of the march’s fast repeating chords brought this virtuosic recital to a thrilling end.