Category Archives: Reviews

Review of Recital by Florian Mitrea 12 February 2019

The 76th season continued with a recital by the brilliant young British/Romanian pianist Florian Mitrea who was sponsored by Making Music’s Philip and Dorothy Green Award for Young Concert Artists Scheme. The recital, which was held in the Pottery Room at Sunderland Museum, was well supported by a good audience who heard a recital of well loved piano music and were reluctant to leave without an encore of Chopin’s Étude in C minor, op.25 no.12.

The recital began with a beautiful performance of Mozart’s Fantasia in C minor K475 which was followed by Beethoven’s Sonata in C major, op.53 [Waldstein]. Again, a powerful and exciting performance making a good end to the first half of the recital. The second half of the recital was all Chopin, beginning with a very exuberant performance of the Scherzo no.1 in B minor, op. 20 which was followed by two beautifully played Nocturnes,op.27 no.1 in C sharp minor and op.55 no.1 in F minor. Florian ended his recital with the Andante Spianato and Grande Polonaise which was played with great authority and we all had the impression that he had enjoyed the evening as much as we had.

Florian Mitrea has a very busy schedule, performing all over the world, and members of the Society are most grateful to Making Music for giving us the chance to hear such a talented young pianist who we hope will visit us again in the future.

Lily Scott

Review of ABRSM Concert 11th January, 2019

An audience of around fifty took in this special event, when Murray McLachlan, Head of Keyboard Studies at Chethams, Manchester, played a selection of pieces from the 2019-20 Piano Syllabus. As he was also a co -author of the Teacher Notes on these pieces produced by the ABRSM, and a prominent solo pianist in his own right, the evening was greatly anticipated. The audience were not disappointed, as he endeavoured to play and comment upon a vast selection from all the grades.

The first half consisted of the early grades. With Murray’s first-hand knowledge as a previous examiner, he was able to give us an insight into what an examiner was looking for (style and character), and many of the pieces, despite their simplicity, came across as beautiful and charming in their own right.  It was almost an impossible task to play all of the 48 programmed pieces in their entirety, and we had to be content to listen to extracts from some of the pieces in the later grades. However, his friendly style of delivery, and his insistence on the pieces being alive with characterisation and expression, rather than military precision, more than made up for this. He still managed to finish with the full version of Gershwin’s Prelude No 1 from Three Preludes. with aplomb.

Audience numbers were a little disappointing in that despite widespread publicity among senior schools in the area, there were not more pupils and their families attending, who may also have been interested in some of our future recitals. It is to be hoped that word will get around, ‘What a cracking evening you have missed’

Review of Recital by Jamie Bergin 20 November 2018

Despite a cold, wet evening a good audience attended a recital given in the Pottery Room at Sunderland Museum on Tuesday evening and they were not disappointed by the performance given by British born pianist Jamie Bergin, who impressed everyone with his thoughtful playing. The evening began with a beautiful and relaxed performance of the Moments Musicaux by Schubert which was followed by the Sonata No. 26 in E Flat, op. 81a [Les Adieux] by Beethoven and although both works came from around the same time there was a marked contrast in style. The more simple style of the Schubert [particularly in Nos. 3 and 6] was complemented by the middle period Beethoven which ended with an exciting third movement.

After the interval there was a rarely performed work by Debussy, Images Oubliées. This was a good introduction to Gaspard de la Nuit which ended the programme. Here, we were left in no doubt about Jamie Bergin’s virtuosity. The performance was given with great authority, with the technical problems presenting no difficulty. Scarbo was particularly stunning and made a good end to the evening during which we had heard a performance of great maturity, technique and dynamic range which went from ppp (without losing the quality of sound) to louder passages which were never too loud.

Jamie has now finished his tour of London and the North East and is returning to Germany but we hope that he will come back in the not too distant future.

Lily Scott

Review of Recital by Cristian Sandrin 16 October 2018

Sunderland Pianoforte Society continued its 76th season with an outstanding recital given by the Romanian pianist Cristian Sandrin who was kindly sponsored by the Countess of Munster Musical Trust. The recital was given in the Pottery Room at Sunderland Museum on Tuesday, 16th October and was well attended by an enthusiastic audience that was well rewarded with an excellent evening.

The recital started with the Variations in F minor by Haydn which were followed by the Sonata in D minor op.31 no.2 by Beethoven, both well played, with great attention to detail particularly in the first movement of the Beethoven where the pedal was used correctly as indicated by the composer. The second movement was beautifully played and the third movement was a fitting end to the first half. After the interval we heard Étude pour les Arpèges Composés No. 11 by Debussy, a difficult, rarely played work from a set of 12 piano studies. This was one of the most popular of the set and certainly one of the most difficult, again well played. We then heard the Berceuse, op.57 by Chopin and the evening ended with Kreisleriana op.16 by Schumann which was the highlight of the recital and left the audience demanding an encore. The Chopin Barcarolle was a fitting end to a really enjoyable evening which was appreciated by everyone.

Born to a family of musicians from Bucharest, Romania, Cristian Sandrin made his solo debut at the age of 13. After graduating from the Dinu Lipatti Art College he moved to London where he worked with many famous pianists. His solo debut in London was at the Wigmore Hall in September 2017.

The Society is grateful for the financial help given by the Countess of Munster Musical Trust by making it possible for us to present such a brilliant young pianist who is assured of a successful career.

Lily Scott

Review of Recital by Riyad Nicolas 25 September 2018

On Tuesday, 25th September Sunderland Pianoforte Society opened its 76th season with a recital given by RIYAD NICOLAS who has just returned from Budapest after winning 1st Prize in the famous LISZT PIANO COMPETITION.

This was well attended by an appreciative audience who enjoyed an evening of impressive piano music. The recital began with a thoughtful performance of the Sonata no.31 in A flat major, op.110 by Beethoven which was followed by Schumann’s Fantasiestücke, op. 16, a set of 8 pieces well contrasted in style and beautifully played. After the interval Riyad Nicolas played the Chopin Sonata no. 3 in B minor, and this was a rare performance of attention to detail and perfection which at no time was ever overtaken by his brilliant technique. This was played with thought and sensitivity. We then heard Grandes Études de Paganini No. 6 by Liszt and realised why Riyad had won such a major prize as this very demanding study was played without any effort. This ended the recital but the audience wanted more and were given an encore of Dia Al Succari “Danse de Laila”.

Riyad Nicolas was born in Aleppo, Syria, in 1989 and has already established himself as a highly talented and brilliant pianist who has played in many parts of the world. Besides solo performances Riyad is a keen Chamber Music player.

The next recital to be given by the SUNDERLAND PIANOFORTE SOCIETY will be Tuesday, October 16th at 7.15pm in the Pottery room at the Museum. Due to building work in the usual entrance signs will direct the audience through the cafe.

Lily Scott

Concert by Members and Friends – 15 May 2018

The 75th anniversary season ended in some style with a concert by members and friends of the society, organised by our chairman, Kevin Walsh.  A good audience at the Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens enjoyed a varied programme, with interval refreshments.  The pianists and the pieces they played were:

Alan Bowers         Andante from Sonata Op. 28, by Beethoven

Ben Richards        Consolation no. 3 in D flat, by Liszt

Graeme Humphrey      Allemande from French Suite no. 5, by Bach;

.                                       Impromptu in A flat D935, by Schubert

Alan England        La Cathedral Engloutie, by Debussy

Peter Hayes          Maple Leaf Rag, and Stop Time Rag, by Joplin

Annie Ball              El Fandango de Candil from Goyescas, by Granados

Sarah Robinson    Fantasy in C Op.17 (1st movement), by Schumann

Kevin Walsh           Petrarch Sonnet no.47, by Liszt

Joe Carville             Lyric Pieces (selection), by Grieg

Alan Coxon            Reflets dans l’Eau, by Debussy

David McRae         Ballade no. 1 in G minor, by Chopin

.                               La Campanella, by Liszt/Busoni

Thanks to all the pianists for their contributions to what was a very pleasant and successful evening.

Review of Recital by Alexandra Vaduva 17 April 2018

On Tuesday, April 17th Romanian-born Alexandra Vaduva gave a piano recital in the Pottery Room at Sunderland Museum. This was well attended by an enthusiastic audience who could not fail to be impressed by her brilliant but very musical performance which covered a wide range of varied music.

The evening began with the Sonata in A minor, D537 by Schubert, well played in great style. The subtle use of pedal in the second movement managed to keep a legato tune whilst keeping the staccato bass. We then heard two Scarlatti Sonatas, E major, K380 and D minor, K9 again very well played. The music then moved to a more modern age of George Enescu (1881-1955) with two pieces from his Suite no.3 which were most pleasant and well contrasted. After the interval there was a beautiful performance of three Intermezzi, Op. 117 by Brahms then we returned to Enescu to hear the Suite for Piano no.1 in G minor op. 3. This is a four movement suite, well contrasted and needing a strong technique as well as musicianship. This work, as with the earlier Enescu, was performed with great authority and power and the Society should feel privileged to be presenting a First Performance [in Sunderland] of such good works.

The audience was most impressed with the entire evening and it was gratifying to see how well the Enescu was received. After such a rousing end to the evening Alexandra gave us an encore of Schumann’s “Träumerei”.

Alexandra Vaduva was sponsored by The Countess of Munster Trust who help young talented artists at the beginning of their career and we certainly hope that we shall hear more of her in the future.

Lily Scott.

 

Review of Recital by Viv McLean 13 February 2018

On Tuesday, February 13th the Society celebrated its 75th anniversary in style with a recital by the brilliant young British pianist Viv McLean who delighted the audience with an appropriate programme for the occasion. Viv was making a welcome return having played on several occasions previously and began the evening with the Variations on “God Save the King” by Beethoven. This was followed by Brahms’ Variations and Fugue on a theme by Handel Op.24, which was played with great authority and power and well appreciated by the audience. After the interval we were treated to a collection of pieces by Chopin starting with the rarely heard Polonaise in C minor Op. 40 No. 2 to be followed by the more gentle Nocturne in G minor Op. 30 No. 1. Then came the famous Scherzo No.2 in B flat minor Op.31, always a favourite with the audience. The Nocturne in E minor, Op. 72 No.1 was followed by a grand performance of the ever popular Polonaise in A flat major, Op. 53 and made a suitable end to the evening, except that the audience were treated to a surprise encore. Viv Mclean gave the first performance of a Polka by composer David Pennycuick which was a good end to the celebrations.

Everyone went home very happy after an evening of fine, well performed music and free refreshments in the interval.

Lily Scott

Review of Recital by John Paul Ekins 12 December 2017

Despite icy roads and low temperatures, a good audience attended the recital at Sunderland Museum where John Paul Ekins stood in at short notice for Grace Yeo, who was indisposed. Despite a busy schedule John Paul managed to fit in a visit to Sunderland where he delighted the audience with an excellent recital.

The evening began with two Polonaises by Chopin (in C Sharp Minor and E Flat Minor, op.26), and the Romanze (in F sharp major, op.28) by Schumann. The first half of the recital ended with a very refined performance of Sonata no. 8 in C Minor, op.13 (the Pathétique) by Beethoven. After the interval (and mince pies) the evening continued with a most powerful performance of “Pictures at an Exhibition” by Mussorgsky. The encore was the Chopin Mazurka no.13 in A minor.

John Paul Ekins last played for Sunderland Pianoforte Society in February 2014, when as a young pianist he was embarking on his career, which is now very successful. He has performed as soloist at a number of prestigious venues in the UK, including London’s Wigmore Hall, Royal Albert Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room and St Martin in the Fields. His concerts have taken him to all parts of the world, where he has performed concertos by Mozart, Beethoven, Schumann, Grieg and Rachmaninov.

John Paul was pleased to return to Sunderland and was very complimentary about the Society’s treasured piano.

Review of Recital by Alexander Karpeyev 14 November 2017

The Society’s 75th season continued with a recital by the brilliant young Russian pianist Alexander Karpeyev who played a programme of music from his native land.

The recital began with 9 pieces from Visions Fugitives by Prokofiev which made a good opening for an evening of brilliance and power as well as intense musical insight into some rarely heard music. This was followed by Sonata-Ballade, op. 27 by Medtner, again seldom heard but was well received by the audience who were impressed by Alexander Karpeyev’s virtuosity. This is the 8th of Medtner’s sonatas, composed between 1912 and 1914 and was a good follow up to the Sonata Romantica which we heard last month. After the interval we had some rarely heard miniatures by Grechaninov. These were charming short pieces by a relatively unknown composer born in 1864 and was known for his liturgical works for the Russian Orthodox Church. We then had some Rachmaninov; Fragments, Etude-Tableaux and part of All-Night Vigil op.37, all beautifully played. The evening finished with Three Movements from Petrouchka by Stravinsky which made a very good end to an exciting recital. These were played with such power and ability that the audience demanded an encore which was a March by Medtner.

Alexander Karpeyev began playing the piano at the age of 7 and in 2000 he entered the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory. In 2005 he won a scholarship to the Guildhall School of Music and Drama where he studied with Joan Havill. He has won many competitions and performed in all major cities as well as being Artistic Director of the Medtner Festival in London. The second Medtner Festival will be celebrated 26-27 November,2017.   WWW.MEDTNERFEST.CO.UK

Altogether, a wonderful evening and a pianist to watch.

Lily Scott