Sunday, 26 April 2009


24/4/09, King's Place

1hr 45 mins approx. A French pianist, Jean-Bertrand Pommier, described in the programme as a "veteran" though he only looked about 60 to me. Five sonatas, numbers 22 to 26 inclusive, which include no 23, the Appassionata, and no 26, Les Adieux plus three slighter works.

Pommier a heavy-set man with a mild face who put his spectacles on the play and then proved surprisingly ferocious and heavy-handed. Good when called on to be passionate, and when playing the lighter dance-like movements; disappointing when required to be lyrical, and in the slow movement of the Appassionata which is haunting and delicate when played by Brendel but here was rather too noisy.

No 22 has just two movements: first one alternating lyrical and loud in a striking way. Nos 24 and 25 he played in effect together, not leaving the stage between them: 24 also has just two movements, exceedingly jolly; 25 has three, a lovely long first movement in some sort of dance time, then a very short slow movement and a short finale.

Les Adieux, which isn't new to me though I recognised none of it, is chiefly memorable for the half dozen false endings in the final movement, with a crescendo, a climax, what sounds like a final note... and then resumption with a jolly little tune.

I'd happily hear all of them again, though perhaps played by a pianist with a marginally lighter touch than M Pommier.

It wasn't full. We paid £9.50 for unreserved seats: you turn up and swap your ticket for the best available seats remaining. We were half-way back in the stalls. It seems a shame they can't fill the hall for mainstream repertoire like this, but perhaps word simply needs to get around among the concert-going public.

Remained exceedingly impressed by the hall itself and by the public areas.

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