THOUGHTFULNESS OF APPROACH
A recital by Australian pianist Jayson Gillham,
reviewed by BILL NEWMAN
Born in Queensland, Australia in 1986, Jayson Gillham is a graduate and medalist of Queensland Conservatorium at Griffith University, where he studied with Leah Horwitz. Currently, he is enrolled in the Master of Arts course at the Royal Academy of Music, London UK, studying with Christopher Elton. His prizes include: third in the London International Piano Competition (2005), Bach, Beethoven, Romantic and twentieth century piano prizes at the RAM, the Liszt Society and McCallum Prizes in the 2008 Royal Over-Seas League Competition and the Beethoven Piano Society of Europe first prize in the 2007 Beethoven Intercollegiate Piano Competition.
His programme [19 November 2008, Steinway Hall, London UK, for the Keyboard Charitable Trust] demonstrated a versatility in choice of repertoire where classical, romantic and modern paired off quite naturally with no apparent strains during Beethoven's Sonata in E flat, Op 31 No 3, a dual centerpiece attraction featuring fellow Australian Gordon Kerry's Figured in the Drift of Stars (2003) and György Ligeti's 3 Etudes -- Open Strings, Autumn in Warsaw and The Sorcerer's Apprentice. (I prefer Dukas.) Two late Chopin works provided a satisfying conclusion: Nocturne in D flat, Op 55 No 2, and Scherzo No 4 in E, Op 54.
The essence of my own personal enjoyment concerned his thoughtfulness of approach. Here is a twenty-two-year old with a penchant for extracting the right ingredients from the works he presents to his audience. Something like a young Grant Johannesen, who leans into his keyboard without fear of losing control or concentration. There are no apparent urges to cultivate a virtuoso approach for the sake of imitating others in his age group, and he enjoys working with chamber music ensembles where balancing of ideas, touch, and phrasing become all important. The works which I choose mostly to admire, show him in his element. Noretta Conci, whose respect and opinions I enjoy at each meeting, spontaneously suggested that she personally took Gillham 'under her wing' for future training purposes. That is praise, indeed!
Copyright © 28 July 2009 Bill Newman,