Blackshaw illuminates Snape Proms

Christian Blackshaw, Piano Recital, Snape Proms, August 10Most piano recitals are good, if not better - musically coherent, notes in place and an enjoyable couple of hours.

Christian Blackshaw, Piano Recital, Snape Proms, August 10

Most piano recitals are good, if not better - musically coherent, notes in place and an enjoyable couple of hours. Every so often one is lucky enough to experience something of a higher order - where musical insight and commanding performance combine to stir the senses, illuminate the world and leave an indelible impression.

Such were my feelings as I left the Maltings on Friday evening.

Schubert's Three Pieces of 1828 are less frequently heard than his three final piano sonatas of the same year. Yet they are just as remarkable and are full of superb music.


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Blackshaw launched into the opening Allegro assai at full force, immediately turbulent and unsettling. The barcarolle-like mood of the second piece was elegantly done but it was the insistent semiquaver motion that most captured the imagination. The final piece was almost shocking in its dramatic impact.

Schumann's Fantasiestucke contain some of his most creative and passionate ideas and the insight and fluency of Blackshaw's phrasing produced a stream of delights.

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There was an inevitability to the second half of a concert devoted to the high romantics of the piano - Liszt's B minor sonata. Famous, perhaps infamous, for his extravagance and indulgence in some of his piano compositions, the composer here reveals all his talents in a magnificent display of virtuoso yet disciplined writing. Blackshaw, not wholly unlike the aging composer in the severely darkened hall, stood the work firmly and proudly in the succession to Beethoven and the repeated notes of the fugal theme seemed directly connected to the earlier Titan. Time stood still as one travelled the score in every detail and finally descended, for the second time, into the infinite bass abyss.

A mesmerising and unforgettable experience.

Gareth Jones

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