SIMON WATTERTON enchants at St Mary’s

Tuesday February 4th 2020 2.00 pm repeated on Spring Holiday 25th May 2020 for Teatime Classic Archive

Simon Watterton (piano)

Beethoven: Piano sonata in F sharp Op 78
Mozart: Adagio in B Minor K540
Schumann: Romance in F sharp Op 28 no 2
Schumann: Arabesque Op 18
Beethoven: Five Bagatelles from op 33, 119 and 126
Beethoven: Rondo Op129 ‘Rage over a lost penny’


Wirral born pianist Simon Watterton has given recitals as soloist and chamber musician all across the world. In recent years he has performed in China, Canada, the USA, Sweden and Italy as well as extensively in the UK and Republic of Ireland. He made his concerto debut at London’s Cadogan Hall and was featured as a Rising Star in International Piano Magazine at the time of a cycle he gave of all the Beethoven piano sonatas in London. He has appeared at the Wigmore Hall, St John’s, Smith Square and the Purcell Room, as well as performing live on Radio 3’s InTune and for Classic FM. As a writer on music he selected and wrote the foreword for a new edition of Frank Bridge’s piano music published by Dover Publishing of New York, which came out in October 2014.
Simon studied at the Purcell School of Music with Patsy Toh and the Royal College of Music with Yonty Solomon, where he won a range of prizes and awards, including the Hopkinson Silver Medal, the Marmaduke Barton Piano Prize and the Peter Wallfisch Prize.Recent concerts included an evening of chamber music at Cadogan Hall with the London International Players, and future projec ts include an eight recital traversal of Beethoven’s piano sonatas at Riverhouse Barn Arts Centre from September 2020, in commemoration of the 250th anniversary of the composer’s birth.He is represented by Gunnar Management.


A programme  that as Simon explained has intimacy at its core.

Beginning the programme with one of Beethoven’s favourite sonatas according to his pupil Czerny:The Piano Sonata No. 24 in F sharp major  Op. 78, nicknamed “à Thérèse”  written for Countess  Thérèse von Brunswick 1809. It consists of two movements:Adagio cantabile — Allegro ma non troppo  ;Allegro vivace.

A beautiful opening adagio that quite unexpectedly after only four bars  leads into a Schubertian melodic movement of an almost childlike simplicity .As though Beethoven after the mightly Waldstein and Appassionata is seeking like Schubert  a golden thread that will after the eruption of the Hammerklavier sonata n.29 be transformed into the etherial almost unearthly utterings of his last three sonatas. It was played with a real sense of that Beethoven sound which is never frail or sentimental but with a sense of instrumental cantabile that gives such weight and poignancy to a  seemingly innocent melodic outpouring.The second movement was played with just that same sense of playfulness that he brought to the Bagatelles op 33 later in the programme.It was played with great buoyancy , rhythmic impetus and technical assurance.This was Beethoven  at his playful best.

Well almost! As Simon pointed out that Beethoven’s so called rage over that lost penny in the Rondo op 129 was  of such infectious good humour that his invention for the innocuous theme knew no limits.Adding more upon more variations of  compulsive good humour.The same he had brought to the Bagatelle op 33 n.7 where the syncopated chords became ever more insistent building to a tumultuously good humoured endless barrage of chords. Finding the fragmentary meanderings of the melodic line in op 119  n. 6 and the startling melodic invention alternating with burst of fire in the last of his piano compositions the Bagatelles op 126 of which he offered the second.

An encore , as he told his audience, that there was no need to even tell them the title.’Fur Elise’ has been played by everyone that has tried to play the piano.Here it was  played with the simplicity and good taste of a  very fine musician and  it became a little jewel in it’s own right.A simple melodic line allied to a sense of almost improvisatory fantasy that I have not heard since Kempff used to play it as an encore in his recitals.

The Adagio in B minor by Mozart so interestingly introduced by Simon who told us that it was written for his father a year after his death in 1788.Writing to his sister, Mozart said that he hoped it would make eveything now alright.Written only three years before Mozart’s own untimely death in 1791 it is one of only two instrumental works in B minor – the other being the Flute Quartet K 285.It is a very poignant declamation for his father.The complete simplicity in which the opening almost Wagnerian notes reappear between episodes of startling contrast and melodic  simplicity.One can only marvel at the genius of Mozart who can  express so much in only 57 bars ( quite unlike Wagner here of course!)

Two pieces by Schumann made up this beautiful programme.

The first the Romance in F sharp (like the Beethoven Sonata) op 28 n.2 .An outpouring of melodic invention in the ever expressive middle register of the piano.It was written as a birthday present for his wife Clara and it was the last thing she heard as it was played to her on her death bed as was her wish.

The Arabeske op 18 was played with a simplicity and sense of line in which the duet between the voices in the first episode was beautifully marked.As Simon pointed out in a very personal point of view the final coda expressed with such simplicity what Brahms had aspired to do in his  own intermezzi later.An ending of sublime beauty that Schumann had added similarly at the end of his song cycle Liederkreis where the piano enters a world where words are just not enough.




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