Dominic Degavino at St Mary’s
It was interesting to hear for the first time a pianist who has played many times in Dr Hugh Mather’s series.
A curriculum full of important prizes and recognition.
From an early age he was a student at Chetham’s studying with Helen Krizos and later continuing his studies with her at the RNCM in Manchester where he won the Gold Medal.Now completing his studies at the Guildhall in London with Charles Owen and Noriko Ogawa.
Three important works on the programme immediately established his pedigree even before he touched the piano.
Half term duties as grandfather called Dr Mather away leaving the master of cermonies to Roger Nellist who introduced this young man to the world so eloquently on their streaming system that I myself often listen to when unable to attend in person.
After such a serious programme so musically played I was pleasantly surprised that he offered as an encore a jazz improvisation of “ I fall in love with you.”At last he could let his hair down and produced the most sensuous sounds of the day with an abundance of pedal that gave such colour and shape to the well known melody.
The Chopin third ballade is the most radiant and untroubled of the four and there were many beautiful things.
His ultra sensitive touch in the quieter passages did not allow for a continuity of line though.
This is a piece where each section should grow out of the previous all leading to the final glorious outburst.
He missed the overall architectural shape which was subsituted by some beautiful episodes that did not link one to the other .
When he played louder he seemed to get more to grips with the keys and find the weight and projection that was not possible on this piano in the quieter passages.
Introducing the programme so eloquently he explained about the Great Exhibition in Paris in 1889 where many instruments like the gamelan were heard for the first time and was such an influence of composers of that period.
It was just this atmosphere that he caught so well in the three Estampes by Debussy.
Some beautiful sounds in “Pagodes” with the shimmering right hand adding such atmosphere to the melodic bass.It evokes images of East Asia, which Debussy first heard in the Paris World Conference Exhibition of 1889, and later again in 1900. It makes extensive use of pentatonic scales and mimics Indonesian traditional melodies by incorporating hints of Javanese gamelan percussion. As this is an Impressionistic work, the goal is not overt expressiveness but instead an emphasis on the wash of color presented by the texture of the work. Debussy marks in the text that “Pagodes” should be played “almost without nuance”. This rigidity of rhythm helps to reduce the natural inclination of pianists to add rubato and excessive expression. Rigidity of rhythm within measures though does not mean rigidity of tempo in the work; the tempo gradually fluxes quicker and slower throughout the piece, which is also common in gamelan compositions.
”La soirée dans Granade”was played with such alluring sounds. It uses the Arabic scale and mimics guitar strumming to evoke images of Granada. At the time of its writing, Debussy’s only personal experience with the country was a few hours spent near Madrid.
Despite this, the Spanish composer De Falla said : “There is not even one measure of this music borrowed from the Spanish folklore, and yet the entire composition in its most minute details, conveys admirably Spain.”
But it was in “Jardins sous la pluie” describing a garden in the Normandy town of Orbec during an extremely violent rainstorm,that he found great washes of sound combined with great rhythmic impetus for these French folk melodies “Nous n’irons plus aux bois” and “Dodo, l’enfant do” that Debussy had incorporated into his very expressive etchings.
The four impromptus op.90 D.899 were played with great attention to detail.The great climax in the first was followed by the exquisite jeux perlé of the second .The beautiful G flat major n.3 sang so beautifully even though it was hard to control the intricate accompaniment at such a sensitive whispered level .The fourth was thrown off with great ease and the passionate middle section was a remarkable contrast to the delicacy of its surrounds.