Thursday 12 May 3.00 pm
More magnificent playing from the elusive Ronan Magill with playing of such intelligence and luminosity from scintillating Scarlatti to rarely heard works by Brahms and Debussy.All played with a rare sense of aristocratic style and technical command that makes one wonder why we have not heard more of this master pianist before.
His debut recital at St Mary’s last year was a revelation and today only endorsed that great first impression .
In the years following the composition of his three sonatas in 1851–4, Brahms concentrated his piano output on sets of variations and groups of shorter pieces—and the first representatives of those genres are already powerful indications of his mastery in these smaller forms.Apart from the brief sets of variations on folksongs which constitute the slow movements of his first two piano sonatas, the earliest (and simplest) of Brahms’s existing sets of piano variations is the Variations on a Hungarian Song, Op 21 No 2, composed in 1853 but only published eight years later. The work is based on a rugged eight-bar melody, rhythmically enlivened by its alternating bars of 3/4 and 4/4, which Brahms probably derived from his Hungarian violinist-friend Ede Reményi during their concert tour together in the spring of that year.
Written in 1888, Debussy’s Reverie was one of his first solo piano works to make an impact. Even at this early stage in his career, when he was still working out what kind of composer he wanted to be (he was apparently a fervent debater when it came to Wagnerism), it’s clear to see traits of that signature Debussy sound.However, the young Debussy had not quite developed the style and tricks that would earmark him as one of his generation’s most notable talents. There are no fireworks here, no sudden explosions in texture that would come to characterise his later works – this is more of a meditation, the perfect precursor to exploring those later works.The gently repetitive theme that opens the work feels like a descent into sleepy dream-world (as the title suggests), and as the textures become ever richer the dreams only become more lush and addictive.
Variations on a Theme of Paganini, Op 35, is a work was composed in 1863 in two books and based on the Caprice n.24 in A minor by Paganini.Brahms intended the work to be more than simply a set of theme and variations ; each variation also has the characteristic of a study. He published it as Studies for Pianoforte: Variations on a Theme of Paganini and was dedicated to the piano virtuoso Carl Tausig It is well known for its harmonic depth and extreme physical difficulty. A particular emphasis of the technical challenges lie on hand independence, with the left hand often mirroring the right hand throughout the piece or having its own set of obstacles.Clara Schumann called it Hexenvariationen(Witch’s Variations) because of its difficulty.
The pianist and composer RONAN MAGILL (born Sheffield 1954) was, as a nine year old, chosen to be one of the founder pupils of the Yehudi Menuhin School. Later after a period at Ampleforth College, and on the advice of Benjamin Britten, he went to the Royal College of Music working with David Parkhouse and later John Barstow, and winning all the major prizes for piano and composition. After his Wigmore and South Bank debuts (Brahms 2 nd Concerto) in 1974, and again on Britten’s advice, he moved to Paris to study with Yvonne Lefebure at the Conservatoire, and then remained in Paris for a number of years, performing regularly both in concert and on TV and radio, and also receiving advice from Pierre Sancan, and Nikita Magaloff and Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli in Switzerland. In 1985 Magill won ist Prize in the 1 st “Milosz Magin” International Competition for Polish Music, followed by a European tour, and then after returning to the UK , he won the 3rd British Contemporary Piano Competition which a UK tour and concerts on BBC Radio 3. In recent years Magill has been performing in the UK, USA (Rachmaninoff 3 rd Concerto) and most recently in Japan where he has been living since 2013 performing in many cities. He returned to the UK in April 2021 and gave a memorable recital at St Mary’s Perivale last year.
ST MARY’S PERIVALE HAS BEEN AWARDED ‘LOCKDOWN STAR’ PRIZE BY THE CRITICS CIRCLE.
We are delighted with this recognition:St Mary’s, Perivale – a tiny, Grade 1-listed redundant church in west London – has punched far above its weight with the range and quality of its streamed recitals. Dr Hugh Mather and the team – all volunteers – carried on with their three weekly recitals when Covid hit, providing young artists with paid employment and a platform during this hardest of times, raising their own funds, largely through donations, to pay the artists without any public subsidies. Both the quality of the concerts on offer and the diversity of performers and repertoire put the response of many larger, subsidised venues to shame. The concerts were streamed live using very high quality equipment installed by two former BBC engineers, Simon Shute and George Auckland. Live audiences are now back at the free-of-charge concerts, and live streaming continues. St Mary’s broadcast 154 live concerts and 53 recordings during the pandemic, and a full schedule of recitals for the year ahead is already in place.
Dear Hugh,Warmest congratulations on this recognition of the pivotal role which you and your remarkable colleagues have played throughout the Pandemic. Not only have you kept up the brisk pace of your St Mary’s Perivale recitals, but the quality of the talent, performance, recording and transmission have reached once unsuspected heights – attaining a pace and now justly recognised star lustre and life. The recognition now given your sustained efforts is more than fully earned.Thank you from Noretta and myself as well as the Keyboard Trust, to so many of whose artists you have given these precious opportunities. With every good wish, John ( Leech -founder of the Keyboard Trust)
Dear John,Thank you very much indeed for your heart-warming email. It is indeed a communal effort with my amazing colleagues, and you and I have similar interests in helping the very best of young pianists to develop their careers. I have huge admiration for your achievements with the Keyboard Charitable Trust, and our two organizations are of course complimentary. Our joint collaborations have worked very well indeed, and indeed we are planning a joint festival for March next year to give a platform to ‘new’ pianists who haven’t played at Perivale before. Thank you once again for your very kind email, which I will copy to my colleagues. With very best wishes to Noretta and yourself. Hugh and everyone at St Mary’s Perivale