Review: Concerts in the West's latest concert from Alasdair Beatson

ALASDAIR Beatson played ‘a recital of two halves’ in Ilminster.

ALASDAIR Beatson played ‘a recital of two halves’ in Ilminster.

First published in What's On

IT was a recital in two halves from Alascair Beatson: two 20th Century works from Eastern Europe and two German pieces from the first 35 years of the 19th Century.

Opening with Bartok's Three Rondos on Folk Tunes, with their simple but disoriented harmonies and more disturbing low, darker musical ideas, Alasdair moved to the otherworldliness of Janacek's final piano cycle, In The Midsts, which indeed dwells on 'misty' keys.

We were treated to beautifully-phrased shifting chord patterns, before being transported into a series of impetuous styles reflecting on the composer's troubled mind in his later years.

Strangely these days, Schumann's Carnival, seems to have fallen out of favour with pianists.

Of its 22 sections, some depict masqued characters from a festival, others his friends or contemporaries and some imaginary -- Alasdair gave us a whirlwind guide.

In the end we were drawn to Eusebius, Schumann's code name for the dreamy side to his own character.

The single page of music was repeated as the encore: its right and left hand are rarely in rhythmic agreement, and following its own repeat, as the composer indicates, the playing should be sotto voce, veiled and slower, with extreme tenderness.

It was the perfect end to a recital which, I sense, will have made a lasting impression.

This was Alasdair's fifth appearance in eight years in the Concerts in the West series.

Quite rightly, he has recently been added to the organisation's esteemed list of patrons.

ANTHONY PITHER

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