Elisabeth Pion at St Mary’s – intrigue and curiosity of a true artist

Tuesday 1 March 3.00 pm

Helene de Montgeroult: Études no 26 & no 111

Mozart: Sonata in F K332
Allegro / Adagio / Allegro

Liszt: ‘Funérailles’ S173

Schubert/Liszt : Three song transcriptions
Gretchen am Spinnrade
Auf dem Wasser zu singen
Die Erlkönig

Lili Boulanger: Prélude
Lili Boulanger: Trois morceaux

Debussy: L’Isle Joyeuse

An intriguingly interesting programme played by Elisabeth Pion at St Mary’s this afternoon.
The clarity and technical assurance of her well oiled playing allied to a natural musicality allowed her to traverse a vast span in time from Mozart through the virtually unknown de Montgeroult ,Schubert,Liszt and to the final jewel of the recital that was the French music which maybe is hardly surprising for a French Canadian.
Four miniatures by Lili Boulanger that owe much to Chabrier and Debussy and a final sumptuous performance of Debussy’s L’Isle joyeuse.

Two studies from a composer born just a few years after Mozart’s birth Helene de Montgeroult’s mellifluous outpouring of Mendelssohnian grace and charm that seem to lie so well under the hand.From a collection of studies for the piano that Elisabeth shaped with such beauty and subtle colouring while the accompaniment wove it’s continuous magic web undisturbed.The second study so similar to the typical scherzo type song without words that I wonder whether she was influenced by Mendelssohn or vice versa.They showed an understanding of the keyboard and a natural simplistic technical command that was of great effect.

Mozart’s Sonata in F K.332 was played with a refreshing clarity and the ornaments that she added in the repeat just allowed her to breathe and shape with more ease having chosen rather fast tempi for the outer movements.A very espressive Adagio that could have been even simpler where the discreet ornamentation was all that was needed to allow Mozart’s sublime music to speak for itself.

There was great drama in Liszt’s tone poem Funerailles that was played with great assurance and passion.The 7th of Liszt’s 12 Harmonies poétiques et religieuses ,an elegy written in October 1849 in response to the crushing of the Hungarian Revolution of 1848 by the Habsburgs.There was disarming beauty too in the ‘lagrimoso’and the treacherous left hand octaves of the military chase were played with great technical command and control.

The three Schubert songs in the masterly transcription by Liszt were played with crystalline clarity.Gretchen’s spinning wheel not faulting for a moment as it built to a tumultuous climax to disappear to a mere whisper.And the water was allowed to flow with such delicacy in Auf dem Wasser zu singen.
But it was the control and real sense of drama in Die Erlkonig that took our breath away.

Lili Boulanger,the younger sister of Nadia Boulanger the great French pedagogue ,who died so tragically young in her twenties but left many compositions that her sister promoted with such dedication and genuine admiration.
These particular little pieces owe much to Debussy and the last piece has all the grace of Chabrier and was played with great charm and conviction by Elisabeth Pion.

The clarity and passion together with her sense of atmosphere and drama brought Debussy’s sumptuous joyous island vividly to life bringing to an end a very interesting varied recital played with great artistry and technical command.


A curious and innovative artist, pianist Élisabeth Pion, born in 1996 in Quebec, Canada, is internationally active as a soloist, chamber musician, and artistic collaborator. Based in London, UK, Élisabeth is currently finishing the Artist Diploma program with Ronan O’Hora at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, where she is a full scholarship holder since 2018. She has previously worked in Canada with Francine Lacroix, Suzanne Goyette and André Laplante. Élisabeth was selected by Dame Imogen Cooper to take part in the Imogen Cooper Music Trust for 2021. In 2019, she was chosen to work with Christian Blackshaw during the Hellensmusic Festival . She has also played in masterclasses for, notably, Till Fellner, Stephen Hough, Boris Berman, Bernd Goetske, Claudio Martinez Mehner, Richard Goode, Paul Lewis and Robert Levin. Élisabeth has been successful in many competitions: she has notably won the 1st prize of the Thousand Islands International Piano Competition, the Prix Banque Nationale of the Prix d’Europe, the 1st prize of the Shean Piano Competition, the Silver Medal of the Musician’s Company of London and the Guildhall Wigmore Recital Prize . Élisabeth was named in the CBC Palmares 30 Hot Canadian Classical Musicians under 30 , and was also selected as one of the 15 Rising Stars of 2018 from the magazine La Scena Musicale. She made her BBC Radio 3 broadcast debut in 2019 in the BBC Total Immersion day celebrating Nadia and Lili Boulanger. In July 2021, she made her Wigmore Hall solo recital debut. Her upcoming performances include her debut with the Victoria Symphony, the Orchestre symphonique de Laval and the Orchestre classique de Montréal. She has previously been invited as a soloist with the Ensemble Sinfonia de Montréal, the Orchestre symphonique du Conservatoire de musique de Montréal, the Ensemble Volte, the Orchestre symphonique de Longueuil and Arion Orchestre Baroque. Élisabeth is scheduled to make her debut in China in the near future. Élisabeth places great value on approaching music from a holistic perspective. Her deep interests in literature, writing and Tai Chi nurture her musical practice. She has had considerable experience of interdisciplinary collaboration with artists from different backgrounds: in 2015, with the Sanchez Brothers, photographers, for a project titled The Lesson ; in 2016, with visual artist Patrick Bernatchez, as part of the exhibition Goldberg Experienced at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal; in 2018, with Le Théâtre Indépendant, as musical director of the Quartett Solo production (Heiner Müller). She is also the Co-Director of the Festival Unisson in Canada, which centres on creating an immersive experience between a single listener and a musician. She is grateful for the support of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, the Sylva Gelber Music Foundation, The Musicians’ Company Carnwath Scholarship, Help Musicians UK, the Jeunesses Musicales du Canada and Talent Unlimited UK.


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