Wednesday 10th December 2014

Beethoven – Sonata No. 22 in F major, Op. 54
Beethoven – Sonata No.23 in F minor, Op.57 [Appassionata] Bruno Mantovani – Le Livre de Jeb
Ravel – Miroirs
Bartok – Sonata for Piano


Virtuoso Magic at the Ilkley Concert Club

The concert began with a moving tribute from the club’s president David Pyett to the composer Arthur Butterworth, a great friend of Ilkley music, who died recently. Then on stage came Jean-Efflam Bavouzet to play a non-standard programme of nineteenth to twenty-first century music. He began with the rarely heard Beethoven op.54 sonata, beautifully phrased with many magic moments, the whole thing wonderfully alive.

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Then he spoke at length and most engagingly about Le Livre de JEB by his friend Bruno Mantovani. His committed performance of this took us into a different musical world that is unfamiliar I suspect to many audience members who are not followers of New Music. The performance held their attention throughout with its fascinating exploration of the resources of the modern concert grand. In his talk M. Bavouzet had stressed the importance of the work’s structure and this was born out in the way we were led on an aural journey that ended just where it should and just as it should.

Back to Beethoven – an incandescent performance of the Appassionato sonata with spell-binding control of its many dramatic moments. This pianist is a risk-taker, never more so than in the finale’s Presto coda. In contrast was the central slow movement, taken at a good flowing tempo. It showed his skill in cantabile playing, real poetry here.

The concert revealed many marvellous aspects of this renowned artist’s playing (how lucky we are in Ilkley to be able to attract world-famous musicians of this calibre). But above all, and more even than his astounding technical facility, was the range of colours that he was able to produce from what might seem to be a monochrome instrument, notwithstanding the excellence of our halls’ Steinway We had already met these colours before the interval but what came after was even more dazzling whether in the subtle sound palette of Ravel’s Miroirs or the much more earthy folksong and dance inspired world of Bartók’s Sonata. Some Enchanted Evening!


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