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It is always refreshing to hear young performers approach warhorses for their first time, discovering the music afresh, making it meaningful. This inevitably gives an exciting edge over some more seasoned performances. This was especially the case in the final session, which opened with Lin Yang's account of Op 27 No 1. Her brisk tempo allowed the flowing scale motifs shapely emphasis against the bell-like opening chords, while the fast interlude was crystalline, the second subject etched with poise over the widely spaced harmonies. The second movement, more cautious in tempo, displayed vivacity in the leaping chordal passages, and the transition to the slow movement was beautifully effective. The final fugue was delicate and delightfully buoyant.

From left to right: Angela Brownridge, Carola Grindea, Julian Clef, Stephen Savage and Sulamita Aronowsky
From left to right: Angela Brownridge, Carola Grindea, Julian Clef, Stephen Savage and Sulamita Aronowsky

The final performance of the day was particularly polished and professional, exemplary in expressive range, technical discipline and colour: Julian Clef (Chetham's School of Music), in an involving and dramatic Op 57. The first movement's explosive energy gave way to some beautifully voiced variations where the two part writing was richly shaded. The clarity of the finale was especially evocative in the reappearance of each rondo theme. Julian Clef clearly has potential for a concert career, and is on the cusp of further studies at the Royal Northern College of Music. We hope to hear him at a BPSE Senior Competition in the future.

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Copyright © 19 March 2008 Malcolm Miller, London UK

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Classical Music Programme Notes for concerts and recordings, by Malcolm Miller