Forgotten composers’ work played in Seaton

Alex Wilson. Picture: Contributed

Alex Wilson. Picture: Contributed - Credit: Archant

SeatonMusic welcomed Exeter-based pianist Alex Wilson for the second concert of their season in The Gateway, Seaton.

A versatile pianist with a passion for the unusual, new and unexplored, Alex started a project in 2014 to bring to life repertoire by forgotten composers.

The theme for this concert was ‘Composers affected by the First World War’.

George Butterworth’s beautiful setting of two English folksongs, Banks of Green Willow, familiar to many in the original orchestral version, opened the performance.

Five Preludes by Ivor Gurney were written just after the Great War, before the onset of mental problems brought on by it. The preludes are short, but full of unsettling harmonic shifts and evoked moments both of rest and energy.

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Alex again brought out the contrast in Frank Bridge’s Three Improvisations for the Left Hand – impressionistic tone poems creating their own atmosphere and energetic activity.

Maurice Ravel’s Tombereau de Couperin was the composer’s homage to the war dead. Based on 17th century French dance forms, the six short movements demonstrated Alex’s pianistic technique, involving a range of moods from ceremonial fanfare and lively activity to gentle reflection and regret.

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Completing the programme were two lesser known composers, both of whom died in action. Ernest Farrar’s Three Pieces are typical of the pre-war interest in English folksong.

The unfinished Piano Sonata by the Australian Frederic Kelly evoked memories of earlier romanticism, and the dramatic first movement and the sadder reflective second movement made a fitting conclusion the concert.

A sizeable audience were fascinated by this striking and unusual concert programme.

The next concert will take place on Thursday, December 14, in The Gateway, Seaton, when Jarek Augustyniak (bassoon), John Anderson (oboe) and Sophia Rahmann (piano) will perform works by Mozart, Richard Rodney Bennett and Poulenc, including the Bassoon sonata by Bennet commissioned in 1993 by Seaton Music.

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