A balmy summer evening on Tuesday saw an appreciative audience in the Mem Hall enjoying a most impressive evening of music by pupils from every year group. Oliver R began with the opening movement of Beethoven’s Pathétique Piano Sonata, achieving a fine sense of weight which contrasted effectively with the softer sections. Bo G is clearly a very promising cellist, conjuring up a beautiful tone as she controlled the technical demands of the Klengel Andante with apparent ease. Jenny J was the first of several Upper School performers to accept the challenge of playing from memory: her performance of Chopin’s Fantaisie Impromptu found that elusive balance between shimmering sparkle and careful control, and the beautiful melody in the central section sang out in the hall. This was followed by Idris S playing the first movement of Dvorák’s Sonatina for violin, a performance particularly characterised by clear tone and good ensemble with the accompaniment in the nuances of the dynamics.
The middle section of the recital took us into more recent repertoire. Ben A opened with Martha Mier’s Opening Night Jazz, lively and rhythmical in all the syncopation. Emily C followed with the Aria from Taktakishvili’s Sonata for flute, performing with exquisite tone, beautifully clear in the evening air and communicating magically with the audience. Florence M immediately restored the energy level with Bridge’s Moto Perpetuo on the violin. This is a showpiece par excellence and Florence performed it with all the panache it demands! Lottie D and Molly D took us into the world of a Parisian night club with La Vie en rose on trumpet and piano respectively: the strong melody on the trumpet recalling Edith Piaf’s amazing voice and the excellent ensemble with the accompaniment combined to make a fine performance. A special classical treat in the form of the third movement of Clara Schumann’s Piano Trio in G minor followed, with Poppy M (violin), Bo G (cello) and Ryan Y (piano). The piece ideally suited their playing, with the strings well supported by the piano, but moreover, the players’ obvious ease of communication so enhanced the performance and made it particularly moving. Elliot R concluded the middle section of the evening with a bravura piano performance of the Queen classic Bohemian Rhapsody. A comprehensive array of pianistic techniques was on display as Elliot more than matched Freddie Mercury’s showmanship arpeggio for arpeggio.
An outstanding group of Sixth Form pupils led us through the final part of the evening. Lucas H opened with Couperin’s Pièce en concert for cello, showing a particularly effective legato control and phrasing in this beautiful piece. Timothy P followed with Mozart’s Fantasia in D on the piano: he brought a well-judged weight of touch and the music sang out clearly in the crisp Mem Hall acoustic. The final four performers are all in the Lower Sixth, and all produced performances that promise extremely well for the year ahead. Allegra H gave a phenomenal reading of the finale of Bruch’s Violin Concerto: playing from memory she showed control, poise and a fine technique as she dug deep into the music’s soul and energy. Bella B sang the Bach aria Blute nur, du liebes Herz from the St Matthew Passion with a beautifully clear and focused sound. She reached out to the audience and drew us all in to the Good Friday grief of the aria. Molly D gave an excellent performance of the first movement of Schubert’s Piano Sonata in A major, with her control of the music and sensitive rubato most impressive. The final piece was the finale of Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto, performed by Poppy M. Playing from memory, she produced a performance that was full of energy, brilliance and joie de vivre, rounding off a memorable evening in scintillating fashion.
All the performers deserve huge praise for an evening full of outstanding musical skill, with particular thanks to Michael Butterfield and Clare Toomer for their excellent and impeccable accompanying. This was a recital which showed fine talent at all levels of the school – many congratulations to all involved!
Andrew Brown, CR 1981-2020