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Gavin Plumley's programme note for the Messiaen seemed to put a little too much reliance on Messiaen's own words -- describing chords as red, blue, purple or orange is not necessarily very helpful to the ordinary listener. Ian Wilson's was equally unhelpful in his programme note for his own Stations IV, which Schellhorn played after the interval.

The piece is the fourth in a group of works, all premièred by Schellhorn, which collectively form a sequence of fourteen movements relating to the stations of the cross. Here Schellhorn was giving the first performance of the final group of pieces. He gave such a powerful performance of what were patently dramatic pieces, I felt a little frustrated that the programme did not give us more explanation about Wilson's thoughts about the links between individual movements and the stations of the cross.

As in the Messiaen, Schellhorn displayed an admirable control of sound and timbre and relished the dramatic contrasts which Wilson gave him, the piece concluding with a long sequence of tintinnabulation.

Finally, playing from memory, Schellhorn gave us Chopin's 3 Nocturnes Opus 9 and his Scherzo No 4 in E major. This was a sequence of deeply felt performances which again harked back to the earlier pieces due to the classical clarity which Schellhorn gave to the Chopin. His playing lacked the rubato commonly used in these pieces, particularly a feeling of independence between the left and right hands, which gave a rather mannered feel to the performances.

This was a fine début recital from a talented pianist with an enviable technique, only marred perhaps by the sense of trying to cram too much into one recital.

Copyright © 12 May 2008 Robert Hugill, London UK




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