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A musical joy

London's Regent Hall Piano Festival,
16-23 August 2004,
reviewed by MANUS CAREY


In order to get to the four lunchtime recitals in this year's Beethoven Piano Society of Europe piano festival it was necessary to battle a way through the masses of hungry lunchtimers, all making a beeline for their respective cafes and restaurants on Oxford Street. For Regent Hall, the home of the Salvation Army, is situated here in the heart of London's thronging shopping district and yet, rather disappointingly, managed to attract such a pitifully small audience for each concert. This was a shame since it was a week of such variety and high-quality music making with each player deserving a much greater crowd of listeners.

First up on Monday was Tau Wey, who was presented with a medal as winner of the 2003 BPSE competition. Before even arriving on stage, it was possible to tell from the unusual and well thought-out programme that here was a searching pianist who was not just willing to reproduce the old piano favourites. There was the compulsory Beethoven sonata (in his case the Appassionata), at times menacing, at times very lyrical, always artfully shaped. This was then followed by William Byrd's Pavane and Galliard, Granville Bantock's rather kitsch Lyric Poem, the London première of Britten's youthful Rhapsodie, and finally Chen Pei-Shu's Quiet Lake under the Autumn Moonlight (the A flat major Chopin waltz was provided as an encore). Tau Wey handled all these different styles with ease, constantly serving the music with his genuinely deep sensitivity, natural musical understanding and searching nature.

The next day Arisu Nakao performed Beethoven's Sonata in F Op 12 No 2, followed by one of the monuments of the piano repertoire, Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition. This confident pianist, with steely fingers and a virtuosic technique, always kept an eye on the musical direction and line of every phrase. She showed herself well-capable of great pianistic control, as in the last movement of the Beethoven and in Limoges, and, despite her slight physique, managed to coax a colossal rounded sound from the instrument. She proved herself most successful in the more dramatic movements of the Mussorgsky, with a rhythmically seductive Old Castle, a particularly ominous Gnome and a terrifyingly exciting Baba Yaga, and managed to conclude the cycle, where some pianists fall short, with an unforced orchestral grandeur. Her Tchaikovsky Meditation encore further proved Arisu Nakao to be an assured and talented pianist.

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Copyright © 12 September 2004 Manus Carey, London UK


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