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The Malaysian born Mei Yi Foo, also a composer, distinguished Tzar recording artist and untiring solo and concerto performer, featured Ravel's Alborada del Gracioso with Two Preludes and the virtuoso Toccata by the English composer York Bowen. Slight unclearness in the first subject of the Ravel -- I suspect a slight stiffness in the piano's middle register -- was quickly rectified. I noted a marginal slowness of tempo in the central section but superb clarity in the reprise. The Bowen pieces grow in stature with each succeeding performance, and audience members wondered at the composer's unfair neglect.

Ashley Wass, British born BBC New Generation Artist and Naxos choice for Arnold Bax piano music -- with more of his countrymen's music to follow -- performed Liszt's 'Vallée d'Obermann' from Années de Pèlerinage -- Suisse. Although it was a strong, serious and measured performance, more flexibility was essential to achieve the harmonic colourings during the delicate episodes that offset the menacing trills after six minutes. Allowances should also have been reserved for Liszt's tremendous power in the final climax.

The concert featured rare and delightful closing pieces, firstly with all three players joining forces in some early Rachmaninov. A delectable Waltz for six hands was followed by a Romance which featured the genesis of the Russian composer's slow movement from his Second Piano Concerto's main theme -- long before the eventual composition of the complete work, whilst he was writing his first version of Concerto 1. George and Ashley ended with Souvenir de Munich, Chabrier's sendup of themes from Wagner's Tristan and Isolde, the opera that made such a great impression on French composers. Malcolm Miller's informative notes provided the final touch.

Copyright © 28 December 2005 Bill Newman, Edgware UK






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