Category Archives: Reviews

Review of recital by Ashley Wass 10 March 2020

The Sunderland Pianoforte Society continued its 77th season with a recital given by well established British pianist, Ashley Wass. An old friend of the Society who was making a welcome return visit, he gave the audience a wonderful evening performing works by Bach, Schumann and Elgar. As well as winning many competitions Ashley has performed at many of the world’s finest concert halls including the Wigmore Hall, Carnegie Hall and the Vienna Konzerthaus. He made his Proms debute in 2008 and since then has played in many countries.

The evening began with a most impressive performance of the Bach Partita No. 1 in B flat which was played with great authority and contrast and was clearly enjoyed by the audience. This was followed by Kinderszenen by Schumann which was given a beautiful performance and was a good contrast to the Bach. After the interval we heard Elgar’s own transcription of the Enigma Variations, a much loved work which is rarely heard as a piano solo but Ashley Wass managed to make this sound very orchestral, using the piano in a most professional manner and producing very rich sounds. This is a true artist.

The audience were not willing to let Ashley finish and were given an encore of the Arietta, op.12 no.1 by Grieg. Altogether, a very good evening.

Lily Scott

Review of Recital by Ugnius Pauliukonis 11 February 2020

Sunderland Pianoforte Society continued its 77th Season with a recital given by the brilliant young Lithuanian pianist Ugnius Pauliukonis who delighted his audience with a thoughtful and interesting programme. The recital began with a beautiful performance of the Sonata no. 52 in E flat by Haydn which was played with great care and authority. The speed was perfect as was the use of pedal which was minimal. This was followed by a selection of Chopin Nocturnes, Waltzes and Studies which made a good end to the first half. After the interval we heard Images, Book 1 by Debussy and again were impressed by the atmosphere created by Reflets dans L’eau which was followed by Hommage a Rameau and Mouvement which was given a brilliant performance. The evening finished with a moving and beautiful performance of the Sonata no.2 in B flat minor by Chopin, and the audience which had bravely struggled through very bad weather to attend were well rewarded by having such a good evening.

The Society is grateful for the sponsorship and support of Making Music’s Philip and Dorothy Green Award for Young Concert Artists scheme which over the years has been a great help to the Society.

Lily Scott

Review of Recital by Grace Yeo 19 November 2019

The 77th season of the Sunderland Pianoforte Society continued with a recital given by Korean pianist Grace Yeo in the Pottery room at Sunderland Museum. It was well attended by an enthusiastic audience who enjoyed listening to works by Robert and Clara Schumann, Beethoven, and Scriabin, and were privileged to be present for the first performance of local composer David Pennycuick’s Preludes op.19 [nos. 20, 21, 24 and 6]. These were well contrasted preludes which were well received by the audience and beautifully played by Grace Yeo who had a clear understanding of the works.

The first half of the recital consisted of Robert Schumann’s Arabeske, op.18 and Sonata in G minor, op.11 as well as Clara Schumann’s Romance in A flat and Deuxième Scherzo in C. The second half began with the Pennycuick Preludes which were followed by Sonata op.10 no.3 by Beethoven and the recital finished with a brilliant performance of Scriabin’s Sonata no.4 in F sharp. However the audience wanted more and were given two encores, Liszt’s Gnomenreigen and Schumann’s Träumerei.

Grace Yeo was making her second visit to Sunderland and is an artist of great technical ability as well as a clear understanding of the music and gave the audience a most enjoyable evening.

Lily Scott

Review of Recital by Alexander Soares 22 October 2019

On Tuesday, 22nd October Sunderland Pianoforte Society continued its 77th season with a recital given by Alexander Soares who played works by Bach, Beethoven, Albéniz and Messiaën. This was attended by an appreciative audience who enjoyed the Bach English Suite in G minor which opened the recital. The first half continued with El Puerto and El Albaicin by Albéniz and Regard de l’Église d’Amour by Messiaën which was a good contrast to the Bach and which was brilliantly played, showing a clear understanding of the music as well as a huge technique. The Messiaën in particular was most impressive. After the interval we heard the well loved Beethoven late sonata op.111 which was followed by an encore, Morceau de Lecture à Vue by Messiaën. Altogether a good evening given by a brilliant young pianist who is assured of a successful career.

Alexander is a graduate from Cambridge and his recent performances include Wigmore Hall, St. Johns Smith Square and the Barbican Centre.

Lily Scott

Review of Recital by Dinara Klinton 24 September 2019

The Sunderland Pianoforte Society opened its 77th season with a recital of sheer perfection given by Dinara Klinton who played to an enthusiastic audience in Sunderland Museum on Tuesday evening.

The recital began with five works by Tchaikovsky ending with the Andante Maestoso from the Nutcracker Suite which was brilliantly played with both power and virtuosity and followed by the Beethoven Sonata in A major, op. 101. Again, well played, particularly the 2nd and 4th movements which always present a challenge both technically and artistically. After the interval we heard the Elegie and 2 preludes (op.23 nos.4 and 5) by Rachmaninoff, romantic music which was a good introduction to the Prokofiev Sonata no.6 in A major. Composed in February 1940 this sonata expresses the cruelty and tragedy of the times he was living through and Dinara Klinton’s performance portrayed this perfectly. The dynamic range and technique were impressive but at the end of the evening the audience still wanted more. Dinara gave an encore of two Scarlatti sonatas in A major and B flat major.

Dinara’s music education began at the age of five in her native Kharkiv, Ukraine and she graduated with highest honours from Moscow Central Music School, where she studied with Valery Piassetsky. After playing throughout the world with many orchestras, Dinara is a young pianist who is already a great success.

Lily Scott

Review of Recital by Valentin Schiedermair 9 April 2019

The 76th season of the Society finished with a recital by the world famous pianist Valentin Schiedermair who entertained the audience with a popular programme of well loved music. The recital began with two Preludes and Fugues from Book Two of the Well Tempered Clavier by J. S. Bach which were played with clarity and great authority. These were followed by a delightful performance of the Mozart Sonata in B flat, K570 and the first half of the recital ended with the Impromptu in F sharp Op. 36 and the Barcarolle in F sharp Op. 60 by Chopin. After the interval we heard the most splendid performance of Pictures at an Exhibition by Mussorgsky which was a complete contrast to the first half of the recital.

Valentin Schiedermair certainly impressed the audience with his sheer stamina and brilliant technique, yet everything was played with musicality and detail. The audience demanded more, and the Mussorgsky was followed by a beautifully played Chopin Nocturne in F sharp op.15 no. 2.

From a musical family, Valentin has studied in many parts of the world with famous teachers and spends a very busy life both performing and teaching. Since his first radio recording aged 16 he has developed a large repertoire and is to be admired for his ability to involve the audience in his performance.

Lily Scott.

Review of Recital by Ashley Fripp 12 March 2019

On Tuesday, March 12th Ashley Fripp gave a piano recital of works by Schubert, Chopin and Schumann in the Pottery Room at Sunderland Museum. This was enjoyed by a good, enthusiastic audience. The recital began with Four Impromptus D899 by Schubert which were beautifully played with much thought and care, particularly the third one. Following this we heard Four Impromptus by Chopin, a complete contrast to the Schubert and brilliantly played, giving a good end to the first half of the recital. After the interval Ashley Fripp opened the second half with a performance of Fantasiestücke, op.12 by Schumann. This was played with great authority and good insight to the work which was obviously enjoyed by the audience. To end the recital we heard Scherzo no.4, op.54 by Chopin which was a good climax to the evening however, the audience wanted more and Ashley finished with an encore, a gentle Chopin Waltz op.70 no.2.

Ashley Fripp is a young British pianist who has earned a fine reputation, performing throughout the world and winning many prizes. This is his third visit to Sunderland Pianoforte Society where he always enjoys playing their priceless Steinway piano and anyone who missed last night’s recital missed a treat. The next recital will be on Tuesday 9th April at 7.15 and will be given by Valentin Schiedermair who will be playing works by Bach, Mozart, Chopin and Mussorgsky.

Lily Scott

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