Steve Osborne

CHRISTOPHER SMITH John Innes Centre, Norwich


John Innes Centre, Norwich

At this Norfolk and Norwich chamber music recital, Steven Osborne breathed life into the first Book of Debussy's Prelude.

He knew the art of making every note count. From the lower reaches of the piano he drew deep, reassuring sounds, but as he reached up to the top of the keyboard the tone was chilly, colourless and, at times, austere; the tiniest of pauses made us wonder just how the pattern would be completed.

With this colourful palette, Osborne showed how the French composer responded to nature like a 19th-century poet, enjoying moments of calm or else revelling in the bustle of the west wind.

But devoting the second half to Schubert's late G major Sonata was not good programming. It took us back three quarters of a century in musical history and seemed to linger over themes that Osborne could not fill with urgency. Things were not made better by some ugliness when he pounded too hard.

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