Elisabeth Pion. Realms of Gould – musical curiosity of intelligence and seduction

Great celebrations at the end of a recital of ravishing sounds .
Has the piano ever shimmered and glistened today in an outpouring of luminous sounds as in the hands of the French Canadian Elisabeth Pion?
An eclectic programme of works rarely if ever heard in concert.


A shimmering ‘Song for the piano’ by Fanny Mendelssohn.
Certainly not like her brother’s’ without words ‘ but a beautifully flowing work of eloquence,passion and charm .It was played with a sumptuous sense of balance and was a prelude to Beethoven’s own favourite amongst his sonatas -the little ‘A Thérèse’ op. 78 -Beethoven’s calm before the storm!And if it could have been played with more respectful solidity the jeux perlé in her hands flowed so naturally from Mendelssohn to Beethoven with such intelligence and real musicianship that I began to wonder that perhaps Beethoven had more charm and colour than I had previously been aware of.
A technical assurance that made her colleagues blush as they only just about made this early start to support a much admired friend.

An embrace from star pianist Gabrielle Stratta


Amazing atmospheric ‘Berceuse ‘ by Adès with its quite extraordinary final explosion and disappearance to oblivion amongst the remains of wondrous vibrations after an almost Messiaenic opening .
An extraordinary work that with Stevenson’s Grimes is a real addition to the piano repertoire .
Gretchen was spinning her web long before Elisabeth opened the magic door so we could overhear her haunting voice.The water too flowed so mellifluously from this artists hands that it came as a shock the sudden attack of the Erlkonig.
A technical command of the keyboard with a kaleidoscope of sounds where music was allowed to pour out of her hands with such authority and delicacy.
It made me think about the remarkable Canadian school of playing of Lortie,Hammelin,Hewitt,Fialkowska,Kimura Parker,Liu or Chen taking over the realm of Gould .
Elisabeth too belongs to this quite extraordinary school that is rarely mentioned but is gradually dominating the musical scene.


What to say of the beauty of the studies of De Montgeroult .
Of course we all bow to Chopin op 25 where the technical problems of the studies are disguised by the poetic content.Almost ‘canons covered in flowers’ here too as Schumann described the Mazurkas.
Of course the last utterances of Debussy,the Etudes his final masterpiece for piano,were inherited from a composer whose works he had edited with such love and dedication.
Today this young Canadian pointed us in the direction of the composer,De Montgeroult,I have hardly ever come across before except in her own recital in Perivale a year ago.Studies covered with flowers indeed.

https://christopheraxworthymusiccommentary.com/2022/03/01/elisabeth-pion-at-st-marys-intrigue-and-curiosity-of-a-true-artist/

Joy of real University friendships

Or Bonis’s ‘Women of legend’ .
Seven portraits from Mélisande to Omphale all played with ravishing ease and character.
Or Dutilleux’s ‘Au gré des ondes’ where the French charm and purity of sound were so reminiscent of Poulenc.
It was though the passionate abandon of Debussy’s portrait of an Island in ‘L’isle Joyeuse’ that made me want to revisit Eastbourne and Jersey that were his inspiration .Maybe I did not look hard enough,as a child,and certainly not with the poetic vision of a genius.
A memorable morning of discovery and seduction in Milton Court with her mentor Ronan o’Hora and all the friends she has made over the past few years.

Undisguised pleasure to see a friend triumph


Present to cheer her on as she reaches the peak of Gradus ad Parnassum on a long journey of discovery that she will share with a waiting world.
Realms of Gold indeed !
Bon voyage !

Mélanie Hélène Bonis, known as Mel Bonis (21 January 1858 – 18 March 1937), was a prolific French late-Romantic composer. She wrote more than 300 pieces, including works for piano solo and four hands, organ pieces, chamber music, mélodies, choral music, a mass, and works for orchestra. She attended the Paris Conservatoire,where her teachers included Cesar Franck.In 1874, at the age of sixteen, she began her studies at the Conservatoire, and attended classes in accompaniment, harmony, and composition, where she shared the benches with Debussy and Pierné.

Mel Bonis

She met and fell in love with Amédée Landély Hettich (5 February 1856 – 5 April 1937),a student, poet, and singer, setting some of his poems to music. Her parents disapproved of the match and withdrew her from the Conservatoire.In 1883, when she was twenty-five, they arranged for her to marry the businessman Albert Domange.After settling into domestic life and having three children she met Hettich again who persuaded her to return to composition.She wrote more than 300 pieces, including works for piano solo and four hands, organ pieces, chamber music, mélodies, choral music, a mass, and works for orchestra.

Hélène de Nervo de Montgeroult (2 March 1764 – 20 May 1836) was a French pianist and composer.

She was born into an aristocratic family in Lyon and studied piano with Hullmandel and Dussek.She married the Marquis de Montgeroult who died as an Austrian prisoner in 1793.Reportedly it was respect for her compositions that allowed her to survive the French Reign of Terror.A set of improvisations on La Marseillaise , performed for the Committee of Public Safety, earned de Montgeroult her freedom after she was imprisoned in the Revolution due to her aristocratic background.After her husband’s death, Montgeroult took a position at the new Paris Conservatoire in 1795, the first female professor ever to be appointed there and taught for two years. Afterwards she published two volumes of music.She died in Florence, Italy.

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