Concert 1. Wednesday 13 October 2010 8pm Print

STEVEN OSBORNE  piano

 

PROGRAMME

 

Beethoven

Two Bagatelles

Schubert

Sonata in B flat, D960

Debussy

Preludes 5 – 10, Book 1

Rachmaninov

Preludes 9 – 13, Book 2

 

 

Steven OSBORNE  is at home with the widest range of styles and his carefully crafted recital programmes and idiomatic approach to contrasting works are both publicly and critically acclaimed. He is a renowned recitalist and has performed in many of the world’s prestigious venues including the Konzerthaus Vienna, Amsterdam Concertgebouw, and Carnegie Hall in New York where he made his debut in December 2005.

 

“You could have heard a pin drop. Steven Osborne’s power over the hall was absolute . . . the atmosphere was spellbound.” DAILY TELEGRAPH

 

“There are few pianists who offer such range and depth of palette . . .This [Rachmaninov Preludes] has award winner written all over it.” GRAMOPHONE 

 

“Steven Osborne reaffirmed his ability to pull off one of the major repertoire challenges… [he] is a master at creating the sense of atmosphere they [the audience] cry out for.”  INDEPENDENT

  

 

Review of Concert

 

A Marvellous Start to the New Ilkley Concert Club Season

 

It is usual to start the new Chamber Concert season with a piano recital. But the programme that Steven Osborne brought to Ilkley was far from usual; no Chopin or Liszt, no Brahms or Schumann. He began with Beethoven, but not with one of the sonatas. Instead he gave us two of the quirky Bagatelles, a marvellous aperitif before the main course. Beethoven, for all his loftiness of ambition was a great musical joker and the playing of the second one in particular ensured that we got all the jokes.

 

The main course was the Schubert Sonata in Bb D.960. It has the ‘heavenly length’ that the composer’s admirers so value, and if there is a heaven then this music surely has its place there. I know some found it overlong despite Steven Osborne’s concern to give the first movement especially a sense of forward propulsion. This is music of an almost unworldly character (heaven again!) so it needs playing that is highly subjective but with a grasp of the structural steel that underpins it. The occasional fortissimo outbursts were emphatically projected and the many moments of quiet suspense were magical.

 

The playing in the slow movement had an almost 3-D effect, background and foreground with the left-hand over right repeated bell-like notes so effective, even more so at the end when additional deep notes sound like distant artillery. Wonderful – a full house ‘and you could hear a pin drop’.

 

After all this inwardness the scherzo brings welcome lightness and clarity which the performance provided joyously. The finale starts happily enough with an almost inconsequential tune, but very soon much more powerful ideas emerge and these contrasts were fully explored, the sudden final rush of bravura writing given with appropriate force and bringing a deservedly rapturous response from the audience.

 

After the interval came five of Debussy’s Préludes. Written for piano they have been recently orchestrated by Colin Matthews for the Hallé, but Steven Osborne’s performances needed no orchestra, the coldness of Footprints in the Snow, the roar of the West Wind, the simplicity of the Flaxen-haired Girl and the Spanish atmosphere of the Interrupted Serenade all marvellously caught.

 

Then came five more Preludes, this time by Rachmaninov. Their performance puzzled me. The pianist’s Hyperion recording, now re-issued as part of their anniversary top 30, has been highly praised. The Financial Times critic wrote ‘Textures that on the page look impossibly convoluted emerge wondrously clear’, but this was not the case in the King’s Hall. Our splendid Steinway C struggled to cope with a performance that demanded a full-size concert Grand. The encore brought balm, a gentle improvisation, lovely textures and harmonies (and short - eat your heart out Keith Jarrett).

 

G.K.

 

CLUB NOTES for 13 October 2010

 

WELCOME TO OUR NEW MEMBERS

Every year we are happy to welcome new Season Ticket holders; you automatically become Club Members. Some of you have had to wait a year; thanks for your patience. We again have a waiting list for next Season. Please remember, if you know you cannot come to any of the concerts, phone David Pyett on 01943 609744 - no need to return tickets. If we manage to re-sell your seats you are entitled to a refund.

 

MARGARET PYETT

Margaret has decided to stand down as the Booking Secretary for the Club After an extraordinary 33 years. Many of us have been helped by her calm friendly voice at the end of the phone and we have all benefitted from her efficient management of the subscription bookings. Her work in the Box Office organising the sale of returned tickets has meant that she has often been the public face of Ilkley Concert Club and the first person that new members met; we could not have had a better ambassador. Margaret loves to talk to people and has made friends with many of us as a result. She has an astonishing memory for the little personal details that help to make ICC such a friendly club. We owe her a huge debt of gratitude and wish her a speedy recovery from the accident which she had last month.

 

HON. SECRETARY

Our thanks also go to Pauline Walker who has retired after being Hon. Secretary for 5 years. A great deal of unsung work goes into the operation of the Club and we are very grateful for all she has done. We are very pleased to welcome Josephine Wesley a member for many years who has agreed to take on this important role.

 

OUR NEW WEB SITE

If you can, take a look at our new website www.concertclub.ilklev.org - lots of useful information about our Club, including some of its fascinating 65 year history. A far-sighted initiative by Ilkley Parish Council made funding available to help local organisations to manage their own websites (see www.ilkley.org/about-wharfedale-online-trust ). This money provided a small amount of training for us (and others) on how to set up a professional looking website, and just as important, how to keep the content up to date. Committee member Tony Hudson has done most of the work. He deserves our heartiest thanks for this effort.