Category Archives: Reviews

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

Review of Recital by Dinara Klinton 24 October 2017

The 75th season of the Sunderland Pianoforte Society continued with a recital given by the young Russian pianist Dinara Klinton and this was an evening of sheer perfection from beginning to end. Anyone who missed this recital missed a treat.

Born in Ukraine, Dinara Klinton started her piano lessons at the age of 5 and a year later she entered the Kharkiv Special Secondary Music School. After graduating from the Moscow Central Music School, where she studied between 2001 and 2007 with Valery Pyasetsky, she went on to graduate with honours from the Moscow Sate Conservatory. Dinara has been awarded a Master of Performance Degree by the Royal College of Music and has completed the Artist Diploma in Performance course under the tutelage of Dina Parakhina. As well as winning many competitions, Dinara has toured extensively.

The evening began with a beautiful performance of the Bach Partita No.1 in B Flat, played with careful pedalling which never at any time affected the clarity. This was a popular work enjoyed by everyone. Then came the Medtner Sonata Romantica in B flat minor which was quite a revelation as many of the audience had not heard this before. Sadly, Medtner’s music is not widely performed even in Russia. Like many artists, Medtner emigrated from Russia in 1919 after the revolution and after his death in England his wife returned his entire archive to his homeland. In April 2017 Dinara Klinton was part of a group of students working with Professor Dina Parakhina who performed the entire set of fourteen sonatas at the Rachmaninov Hall of the Moscow Tchaikowsky Conservatory. The Sonata Romantica is a very difficult work but was played with great power and authority. The technical difficulties presented no challenge and despite being a relatively unknown work to the audience it was extremely well received. After the interval we heard a beautiful performance of the Sonata in C sharp minor, Op. 27 No.2 (“Moonlight”) by Beethoven, which was enjoyed by the audience. The programme ended with two Transcendental Studies, Nos. 9 and 10, by Liszt, which again were beautifully played and enjoyed. The evening had clearly been a great success as the audience demanded an encore and Dinara finished the evening with Chopin’s study Op. 25 No.1 in A flat.

Lily Scott

The Society would like to acknowledge the support of Making Music, which is the UK’s leading organisation for voluntary music. Its Philip and Dorothy Green Award for Young Concert Artists has helped to launch the careers of many young musicians and the Society is grateful for the financial help they provide.

Review of Recital by Sarah Beth Briggs 19 September 2017

Sunderland Pianoforte Society celebrated the 75th season with a recital by former member Sarah Beth Briggs who delighted the audience with a varied and interesting programme. The recital started with the Italian Concerto BWV 971 by Bach which was given with great authority and clarity. The Mozart sonata in F, K332, followed this and again was given a good, thoughtful performance. The first half of the recital ended with the rarely heard Beethoven sonata, op. 90. After the interval we moved to the more romantic music and were treated to the Sonatina in A minor by Hans Gal, a composer who was born in Vienna in 1890 but moved to Edinburgh in 1939 and was one of the founders of the Edinburgh Festival. This was really beautiful music and very well played. It is worth mentioning that it was its first performance in Sunderland and well received by an appreciative audience. We then heard Two Arabesques by Debussy then the Schumann Arabeske, op. 18. The evening ended with a powerful performance of the Chopin Ballade No. 4 which presented no technical difficulties to Sarah Beth Briggs despite being one of the most challenging works in the piano repertoire. However, the audience wanted more and were given a soothing encore of Traumerei by Schumann.

Newcastle born Sarah Beth studied with the late Denis Matthews and her professional career was launched at the age of eleven when she became the then youngest ever finalist in the BBC Young Musician of the Year. Sarah’s playing takes her to many countries and she enjoys balancing a successful solo career with numerous chamber music engagements. Her most recent venture is a piano duet partnership with James Lisney.

The Society is grateful that Sarah has been able to perform for our special season and we look forward to following her career in the future.

LS

Review of recital by Joseph Houston 25 April 2017

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The final recital of the season was given by Joseph Houston, a brilliant young pianist based in London and Berlin. A good appreciative audience enjoyed a very interesting first half of the recital which was quite unique as it was presented with a combination of composers and it was played without the interruption of applause. This worked very well, being varied and well thought out.

The recital opened with ‘La Cathedrale Engloutie’ by Debussy to be followed by ‘With Drums and Pipes’ by Bartok. We then heard the Intermezzo in Emajor, op. 116 No.4 by Brahms and returned to Debussy for ‘Ce qu’a vu le vent d’ouest’ and ‘Les sons et parfums tournent dans l’air du soir’. Returning to Brahms, we heard the ‘Capriccio in G minor, Op.116 No.3’ then Bartok’s ‘The Night’s Music’ and ‘The Chase’ The first half of the recital ended with’Les cloches de Geneve’ by Liszt and to hear this collection of such varied music, played without applause was quite refreshing.

After the interval we heard the ‘Sonata op.2 no.2 by Beethoven which was given a lively performance and the evening ended with ‘Ballade No. 4’ by Chopin which was played with great style and power. This is Joseph Houston’s second visit to the Society and he has always impressed the audience with his brilliant technique and musicianship but most notable is his subtle and clever use of pedal which is always used with great care. Altogether a good end to the season.

The Society is most grateful for the financial support given by the City of Sunderland which enables and enriches the quality of music and the arts to continue.

Lily Scott.

Review of Recital by Harry Nowakowski-Fox 14 March 2017

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The Sunderland Pianoforte Society presented an attractive and demanding programme last Tuesday. The pianist was Harry Nowakowski-Fox, a Young Steinway Artist who has won a number of prizes, including the grand prize at the Windsor International Piano Competition. He commenced with Schumann’s Kinderszenen (“Scenes from Childhood”), a set of short pieces which are not for children, but are an adult’s recollection of childhood, for adults to play. The recital continued with a spirited performance of Sonata Opus 53 by Beethoven, dedicated to his friend Count Waldstein. A high degree of technical dexterity is required to play this sonata, and Harry was well able to demonstrate this, and to produce a considerable range of dynamics and sonorities from the piano, making for a most effective performance.

The first piece after the interval was Chopin’s Fantaisie in F minor which has an unusual design, as befits a fantasy, and the contrasts were well-handled. The final work in the programme was more Schumann: Kreisleriana Opus 16. Kreisler was a fictional character, an eccentric conductor who found consolation at the piano. Harry Nowakowski-Fox gave a thoughtful treatment of this set of pieces, bringing out the various moods of the eight movements, and maintaining interest throughout. As an encore he played again the best known piece from Kinderszenen: Träumerei (“Dreaming”). Harry is an exciting pianist; it will be well worth following his career as it develops.

David Pennycuick

Review of Recital by Maria Marchant 14 February 2017

107_0866Valentine’s Day was celebrated in style at Sunderland Museum when the Pianoforte Society presented a recital by brilliant young British pianist Maria Marchant, who entertained an appreciative audience with an evening of romantic music. The recital started with a selection of well loved lyric pieces by Grieg to be followed by Liszt transcriptions of Schubert songs. Then we heard the Liszt Petrarch sonnet 104 from “Deuxième Année: Italie”. The first half ended with Spanish music; we had Granados “The Maiden and the Nightingale” and Albeniz “Sevilla”. After the interval Glinka’s “L’Alouette” was followed by pieces from Prokofiev’s “Romeo and Juliet”. We then heard Debussy’s “La Cathédrale Engloutie” and Brahms’ Intermezzo Op. 117 No.1. The recital ended with Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata which was played with great style and authority, but the audience was wanting more and Maria played Holst’s “Northumbrian Pipes” which made for a very good end to the evening.

Maria made her Wigmore Hall and South Bank debut in 2010 and has since been in great demand throughout Britain and abroad. As a passionate advocate of British music, Maria gave the world premiere performance of “Goodwood by the Sea”, a new solo piano work by Roderick Williams written for Maria and commissioned by the Shipley Arts Festival, where she is pianist in residence. Maria is also involved with chamber music and is recording her debut CD for SOMM records for international release in 2017.

Lily Scott

Review of Young Pianists’ Recital 13 December 2016

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Sunderland Pianoforte Society continued their 74th season with a concert which was given by pupils of David Murray and local piano teacher, Eileen Bown. The concert was given in the Pottery Room at Sunderland Museum and was well attended by members and proud parents as well as families who enjoyed an evening of superb music given by pianists of varying ages ranging from Flint Shepherd who is 6 years old to mature performers. The aim of the Society is to encourage the study of piano playing and this was certainly done on Tuesday evening with the help of David Murray who introduced the pianists.

The evening began with 6 year old Flint Shepherd who played a Prelude by Hummel, and this was followed by Ciaran Leahy playing “Staccato Beans” by Tan Dun. This was followed by James Barker playing “Somewhere over the Rainbow” and then Louis Scott played “Cruella de Vil”. These four young pianists not only played well but are to be congratulated on their stage presence and appearance. We then heard Icy Wong playing Chopin’s Nocturne in D flat op.27 no.2 with great sensitivity to  be followed by William Horseman playing Rachmaninov Prelude in B minor op.32 no.10. Amy Baker then  played the first movement of Sonata in D minor op.31 no.2 by Beethoven and the first half of the evening ended with Tom Yang playing 3 movements from the Children’s Corner Suite by Debussy. After the interval during which mince pies and wine were enjoyed Nicole Lau played the Prelude and Fugue in G major by Bach and was followed by Victoria Robinson who played Debussy: Pagodes from  Estampes and Saint Saens Etude en forme de Valse, played with great polish and style. Amy Baker made a welcome return to play Cadiz by Albeniz and was followed by a lively performance of Toccatina by Kapustin given by Alan Coxon. The concert ended with a performance of the famous Rhapsody in C by Dohnanyi given by William Horseman.

It is encouraging to hear these talented young pianists, some of whom will be going on to have professional careers and the Society wishes them every success. Many thanks go to David Murray and Eileen Bown for all their hard work in producing such a good evening.

Lily Scott

Review of Recital by Ashley Fripp 22 November 2016

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Lovers of classical music were treated to an excellent concert on Tuesday evening at the Sunderland Pianoforte Society, in the Museum and Winter Gardens. The pianist was Ashley Fripp, making a very welcome return visit to the Society. The first half of the programme consisted of two contrasting sonatas – opus 10 no.3 in D major by Beethoven and opus 14 in D minor by Prokofiev. Ashley took full advantage of the piano’s dynamic range to express the differing moods of the various sonata movements. His performances of both works were powerful, but delicate where the music demanded.

The second half of the recital was devoted to Rachmaninov Preludes – the set of ten forming opus 23, preceded by the well known prelude in C sharp minor (opus 3 no.2). Ashley Fripp has a formidable technique allied to a deep understanding of the pieces he is playing. He was able to establish good rapport with the audience, and gave us a sensitive and altogether satisfying recital, with a Chopin mazurka as an encore.

David Pennycuick

Review of Recital by Mishka Rushdie Momen 18 October 2016

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The 74th season continued with a recital by the British born pianist, Mishka Rushdie Momen who gave an enthusiastic audience a very good evening. Mishka appeared by kind permission of The Countess of Munster Musical Trust, a scheme which helps young musicians and supports them in their early career. Already an accompished performer, Mishka has played in the Wigmore Hall, The Purcell Room, The Royal Festival Hall and many countries abroad.

The evening started with an elegant performance of the Mozart Fantasia in C minor, K475 and was followed by the Janacek Sonata No.1 which was a good contrast in style. The first half finished with a good performance of the Beethoven Sonata, op.101 in A major which was well received by an appreciative audience. After the interval we heard a very thoughtful performance of Waldszenen, op.82 by Schumann, a composer who is not always easy to interpret but this was good. The recital ended with a rousing Wanderer Fantasie, D.760 by Schubert, played with an amazing power but balanced by the thoughtfulness of the quieter passages.

Mishka Rushdie Momen is a pianist with great talent and the Society is pleased to acknowledge the financial support of the Countess of Munster Trust.

Lily Scott