Pascal Roge, Norwich

FRANK CLIFF The first half of this recital of French piano music led us for the first of Fauré's Nocturnes of 1883, through Satie and Ravel to Poulenc's Theme Varie of 1951.

FRANK CLIFF

The first half of this recital of French piano music led us for the first of Fauré's Nocturnes of 1883, through Satie and Ravel to Poulenc's Theme Varie of 1951. The fact that it was played in a continuous sequence – no applause until the interval – brought an added dimension.

Not only did it enhance concentration – not the tiniest cough or shuffle in just under an hour's music – but it enabled us to appreciate to greatest effect Roge's mastery of subtle changes of style in quite disparate music which nevertheless mostly shared a common sensibility.

The playing was immaculate and always characterful: elegant and refined in Fauré's E-Flat Minor Nocturne, imaginative yet perfectly controlled in two movements from Ravel's Miroirs as well as his Sonatina, and equally at ease with the quirky melodic line of three of Satie's Grossiennes as with the dramatic changes of mood of Poulenc's Theme Varie.

It is a moot point, perhaps as to which sound world is the most evocative; that of Ravel or Debussy. To judge only by the performance of the one work in the second half, the palm would go to Debussy for the most atmospheric and imaginative playing by Roge of Book One of the Preludes: a perfect ending to a beautifully balanced programme.

t Pascal Roge was at the John Innes Centre.

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