Then on Monday 7 May, another lunchtime concert - this time, Jayson Gillham on piano. Another young performer, he also has great stage presence, with a natural ability to engage with the audience, again choosing to speak about the music too. He performed Beethoven's Waldstein Sonata (No. 21 in C major, Op. 53), followed by four of Debussy's Études (numbers 6, 7, 8 & 11). He concluded his programme with Chopin's Ballade No. 4 in F minor. Born in Australia, Gillham settled in the UK in 2007, and has a number of competition prizes to his name, as well as a well established concert performance career, and two CDs to his name. His Waldstein was powerful and robust, the Debussy beautifully delicate, and the Chopin was appropriately bravura and full-blooded. We were also treated to a short encore, which Jayson kindly informed me via Twitter was the Étude No. 10, Der Zauberlehrling (The Sorcerer's Apprentice) by György Ligeti. An impressive performance all round.
Tuesday 8 May - more lunchtime music from guitarist Michael Partington. Born in Wales, he now lives in Seattle, and judging by his soft accent, he's been there a while. Initially I feared the rather dead acoustic in the Pavilion Theatre would not favour the instrument, and I struggled to hear some of his sensitively quiet playing to start with. However, I think in the end, this actually worked for him, in that I felt drawn in to listen more carefully to the intimacy and delicacy of the music. Once again, we were given useful introductions and background notes on the music. He began with a pleasant set of Variations, Op. 102 by Mauro Giuliani. These were followed by his own arrangement of two Sonatas (K208 & K209) by Domenico Scarlatti. As he explained, these keyboard sonatas fit remarkably well on the guitar, and his arrangements are fitting and effective. Partington is also a great advocate of new music for the guitar, having commissioned and premiered many works. He next performed Six Preludes by the Oregon based composer Bryan Johanson. A great contrast to the rest of the programme, these showed a wide range of influences, as well as using some extended techniques on the instrument. One, we were told beforehand, was even based around a Supremes song. I spotted that it was the fourth, but couldn't identify the song - I heard him tell another audience member after, but didn't catch the title - so if you're out there, Michael... (update from the man himself - it was 'Keep Me Hanging On'). The highlight of his programme was the beautiful Tombeau sur la mort de M. le Comte de Logy. Le Comte de Logy (or Jan Antonín Losy) was the 'Prince of the Lute' in his day, and Sylvius Leopold Weiss wrote this moving piece upon his death in 1721. Interestingly, it uses one of the same 'extended' techniques we heard in the Johanson (string bending) to evoke wailing and grieving, and the rising scale towards the end depicts Le Comte's soul rising to heaven. Despite a couple of memory lapses (I think), this was a touching performance, and made me want to seek this piece out again. The programme ended in perhaps more familiar territory, with Tres Piezas Españolas by Joaquín Rodrigo.
|© Eric Richmond|