Bach, Haydn and Brahms
CHRISTOPHER SMITH Assembly House, Norwich
> Assembly House, Norwich
The Sinfonia to JS Bach's Second Partita made an attractive overture to this lunchtime concert by students from the UEA.
It was played by the Taiwanese pianist Ying-Hsuan Chiang with crisp control. After the serious opening section had commanded our attention, the mood changed. In the next two movements speeds picked up, and the tone became lighter, though even at the end the bottom line still asserted its authority.
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Haydn's Piano Sonata No 60 was even more delightful in a performance that brought out all its wit and imagination.
In the opening Allegro, for instance, one falling figure kept recurring. It was easy to recognise, so it was all the more obvious that the composer never repeated it without altering it in some way or making it seem fresh again by altering the context.
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The master class in musical invention was continued in the Adagio, with broken chord effects that leaped in unexpected patterns to surprising heights.
The Finale, too, was most ingeniously put together. It almost conveyed the impression of Haydn, pausing quizzically at each musical crossroads as he came to it and considering for a moment which route to choose.
Calm, modest in appearance yet inspiring confidence, Chaing knew the art of bringing out the character of this music with aplomb but without any exaggeration in body language or facial expression.
Efthymios Papatzikis led the strings, with Benjamin Lee at the keyboard, in the generously proportioned
first movement of Brahms's Piano Quintet.
Though the interpretation had undeniable vigour, the overall effect was not really persuasive, with problems over balance and some rather dull tone.