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The unusual first half highlighted his ability to involve one in the music's reflective moments, often bringing out unpredictable inner textures. Movements by Bach and Handel provided a slow-fast Baroque overture, starting with the eloquent lyricism of Bach's keyboard arrangement of the slow movement from Marcello's Oboe Concerto No 3, sustained pulsating chords supporting a beguiling ornamented aria above. This was Bach played in the old style, imbued with tranquillity and grace.

It was counterbalanced by the magisterial textures of Handel's Chaconne in G HWV 435, where Robilette's fine pacing of each ingenious variation heightened the dramatic architecture that climaxes in quasi-orchestral richness. Despite the somewhat frequent rallentandos at the end of each Chaconne theme, the grouping underscored both contrasts and the continuity, left hand emphasis adding to colouristic variety as also in Beethoven's Sonata in F sharp Op 78, a challenging middle period work not often programmed. In the first movement Robilette highlighted the transformations of the main motif but the focus was on inner strands, cross rhythms, emphasis of striking harmonic and structural events; the second movement fast and fluent, anticipating the glowing filigree richness of the late sonatas. Sometimes passage-work suffered from being indistinct, perhaps owing to acoustics, with occasionally jerky accentuation and blurred phrasing, for instance in the recapitulation, and, as later in the Chopin Sonata, melodic peaks were under-emphasised. But this was compensated by an appealing depth of tone that avoided all harshness.

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Copyright © 12 June 2001 Malcolm Miller, London, UK




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