77th concert season 2018-2019

Opening concert: Ryan Drucker (piano)

September 22nd, 2018. Review by Christine Colbourne.
Ryan Drucker

The 77th season at Haywards Heath Music Society got off to a scintillating start with a recital by up and coming young concert pianist, Ryan Drucker. This concert marked the beginning of a collaboration between the Music Society and the prestigious Tunbridge Wells International Young Concert Artists competition held biennially in Mayfield. As the winner of the Piano section of the competition Ryan joined a list of former winners which includes such luminaries as Paul Lewis, Savitri Grier, Alexander Ullman and James Willshire who, along with Pippa Harrison, gave us such a memorable duet performance of Scheherazade last March.

Ryan's carefully chosen programme began with a late Beethoven sonata in which an inmpressive command of balance, touch and voicing of the lines was evident. Ryan followed this with a masterly rendition of Franck's Prelude, Chorale and Fugue, a work which is widely acknowledged to be one of the greatest masterpieces in the piano repertoire. Ryan's performance did not disappoint. From the contemplative Prelude to the grandeur of the Chorale through to the dazzling Fugue where all three themes combine, Ryan demonstrated a formidable technique with well judged dynamics and awareness of structure in this many textured work. His ten fingers sounded more like twenty on occasions!

After the interval we were treated to "Estampes" by Debussy. Here we heard a wide palette of colours as the music transported us to the East, Spain and a thunderstorm in a Normandy garden. This was fabulous playing which brought each scenario vividly to life.The Chopin Nocturnes which followed provided a calm after the storm. Here again the mood of the music was beautifully judged and executed. The piano sang out - a member of the audience was heard to say the performance was perfection!

And so to the spectacular finale which provided all the drama one could wish for. Liszt's Paraphase of the Quartet from Rigoletto was played with great feeling along with all the pianistic fireworks one would expect from Liszt. Wow!

Lawrence Olsworth-Peter (tenor), Lucy Cronin (soprano) and Harry Sever (piano)

20th October, 2018. Review by Bill Colbourne.
Lawrence Olsworth-Peter

A large and enthusiastic audience at St. Wilfrid's Church gave a warm welcome to popular local tenor Lawrence Olsworth-Peter as he paid an overdue return visit, this time in the company of glamorous soprano Lucy Cronin and brilliant accompanist Harry Sever.

Lawrence is more usually heard on the operatic stage, or in oratorio, but on this occasion he and his friends were presenting 'Transatlantic Melodies, The Golden Age of Song.' Some of us wondered whether he would be able to adapt to this very different genre, but our doubts quickly vanished as he and Lucy gave us Transatlantic Lullaby, followed by Coward's The Stately Homes of England, Parisian Pierrot, and Someday I'll Find You. All splendidly performed.

Lawrence and Lucy made a handsome pair. They took turns to introduce their songs, and did so clearly and well, with interesting background information. Gershwin and Berlin made frequent appearances, with Cole Porter not far behind. Lawrence's light tenor was admirably suited to these songs, and he sang with beautiful tone and control. Lucy was equally at home, and in their duets they played off each other in a delightful but always civilised way. All this, plus the superb piano accompaniments of Harry Sever. The audience loved it!

Richard Allen (harp)

17th November, 2018.
Richard Allen

Richard Allen won First Prize at the prestigious Camac Harp Competition 2016 – North London Festival; and was also awarded the BBC Young Musicians' Platform Award 2016, playing Gliere's Harp Concerto Op.74 with the Ulster Orchestra and David Brophy. His playing is noted for its remarkable palette of shades and colours, and depth of expression rarely heard on the instrument. Recent solo performances at the RFH, St Martin-in-the-Fields and Teatro Monza, Italy have cemented his reputation as a maestro of the harp. This concert was sponsored by the Countess of Munster Musical Trust.

Ensemble Reza

9th February, 2019. Review by Christine Colbourne.
Ensemble Reza

The second half of the 2018-2019 season at Haywards Heath Music Society got off to a spectacular start on Saturday with a return visit by the ever popular local chamber group, Ensemble Reza. On this occasion the line up consisted of Miriam Teppich and Andrew Thurgood (violins), Matthew Quenby (viola) and Pavlos Carvalho (cello).

The evening opened with "Three Idylls for String Quartet" by Brighton-born Frank Bridge. The melancholy mood and beautiful dark sounds were something of a revelation, as were the hints of jazz rhythms in the last two pieces.

Two String Quartets formed the backbone of the programme. The first, Borodin's String Quartet no 2 in D Major, needed no introduction as some of the themes were used in "Kismet". The group performed the work with great passion, impeccable ensemble and ravishing tone. The Eastern promise of the music was a sheer delight.

After the interval we were treated to one of Beethoven's lesser known late String Quartets, Op. 130. As Matthew said, this work with its six movements is really more of a Serenade. The music of the four inner movements varied in style from dances to an operatic Cavatina, while the first and last movements were more conventional and substantial. Once again, the performance was faultless and engaging.

It is always a pleasure to welcome Ensemble Reza to the Music Society and the enthusiastic response from the large audience was an indication of the enjoyment they gave us!

Emily Sun (violin) and Jennifer Hughes (piano)

23rd March, 2019. Review by Christine Colbourne.
Emily Sun

From the very start of Saturday's violin and piano recital we were left in no doubt of the star quality of the artists, Emily Sun and Jennifer Hughes. Their total rapport and immersion in the music captivated the audience who were held spellbound by the performances.

The well chosen varied programme included works from the Romantic era by Beethoven, Mendelssohn and Schumann and one modern work, the Sonata for Violin and Piano by Poulenc. The artists displayed complete affinity with the music and scored a particular hit with the lesser known Poulenc, which was received with great acclaim by the enthusiastic audience. The recital ended with the show stopping Valse Scherzo by Tchaikovsky, a piece which places great technical demands on the violinist, full of abundant double-stopping and virtuoso fireworks!

Emily Sun is an outstanding violinist with complete mastery of the considerable technical demands of these pieces. She is a consummate musician, totally engaged with the music and in all this she was accompanied in spectacular style by an equally accomplished and committed pianist.

Both artists are ones to watch and we hope very much to welcome them to Haywards Heath Music Society again.

Samson Tsoy (piano)

27th April, 2019. Review by June and John Ingleton.
Samson Tsoy

Piano recitals are always eagerly awaited by Haywards Heath Music Society audiences and seldom more so than when Samson Tsoy is the soloist. He returned to St Wilfrid's Church for the third time on Saturday 27 April and confirmed his abundant talent and maturity with a long and demanding programme comprising two giant works of the piano repertoire, an attractive but little-known sonata and a group of popular short pieces.

Samson Tsoy bravely opened his recital with Beethoven's last piano sonata, the two movement Op 111 in C minor. He surmounted the technical challenges of this emotionally charged work with ease but his interpretation of the dramatic and stormy Allegro con brio ed appassionato section of the first movement occasionally lacked conviction. He successfully captured the poetic simplicity of the second movement, Arietta, and its transition through its cat purring section to its culmination in a halo of trills.

The remainder of the first half was devoted to five miscellaneous short pieces, each of which was picked from a well-known long work. The first was the Prelude and Fugue in G major from Book 1 of J S Bach's Well-Tempered Clavier. This had little in common with the romantic works which followed. The only hint of a thread in them was the positioning of Tchaikovsky's depiction of a hunt from The Seasons immediately ahead of Liszt's Wild Hunt from his Transcendental Studies. Tranquility was restored in Rachmaninov's Etude Tableaux in C minor Op 39 No 1, leading to a barn-storming performance of Chopin's Etude in C minor, Op 25 No 12. All these pieces were sensitively interpreted.

The second half of the concert was dominated by a scintillating performance of Kreisleriana, a substantial set of eight contrasting and melodic pieces describing the impulsive and dreamy sides of the literary character Johannes Kreisler. Schumann regarded it as one of his best piano works, and rightly so as Samson Tsoy's interpretation emphasised.

For some in the large audience, the evening's highlight was still to come. Scriabin's little-known post –romantic Sonata No 4 in F sharp minor, Op 30, written at the beginning of the 20th century, is in two short movements, Andante and Prestissimo Volando. Within just eight minutes we were treated, in Samson Tsoy's expressive hands, to a variety of textures, some delicate and sensual, others exuberant and passionate. It was an excellent introduction to the virtuosity of Scriabin's writing for piano, and this was reinforced by the simple encore by the same composer which rounded off another memorable recital and a highly successful 77th season of professional live music making in Haywards Heath.