Musical pick of the year

‘Tis the season for lists and Top 10’s, so here is my personal pick of my musical year. I have been fortunate to attend several concerts every month, hearing performances by established international artists, up and coming young talent, and concerts given by friends and colleagues. It has been a busy year in music for me, not least for the creation of the South London Concert Series, which launched in November 2013 with a sell-out concert featuring Brighton-based pianist Helen Burford. I am looking forward to more great music in 2014, including concerts by Piotr Anderszewski and François-Frédéric Guy at the Wigmore Hall. Some I will be reviewing, others I will simply be enjoying.

This list is not a “Top 10” and the concerts are not ranked in order of brilliance: I simply list my most memorable concerts of 2014.

Steven Osborne – Vingt regards sur l’enfant Jesus/Messiaen/Southbank Centre. If you were at this concert, you will know why it was so extraordinary, profound and moving. More here

Gyorgy and Marta Kurtag at Southbank Centre. An exquisite and touching concert, notable for its intimacy and domesticity. My review.

Yevgeny Sudbin, Wigmore Hall. A lunchtime recital in late January was my first experience of this justifiably acclaimed Russian pianist. My review

Quartet for the End of Time, Southbank Centre. Another concert in the Southbank Centre’s year-long fascinating Rest Is Noise festival, featuring the Capuçon brothers. Messiaen’s profound and spiritual work was paired with Shostakovich’s haunting elegy for victims of war, his second Piano Trio. Review

Marc-André Hamelin at Wigmore Hall. I was lucky enough to attend two concerts this year by one of my pianistic heroes, as Marc-André is currently enjoying a residency at Wigmore Hall. To meet Marc-André after his performance of the monumental Concord Sonata by Charles Ives was particularly special. My reviews here and here

Proms Chamber Music: Britten Up Close. A chamber prom at Cadogan Hall to celebrate the centenary of Benjamin Britten’s birth and featuring young soprano Ruby Hughes, with James Gilchrist and Imogen Cooper. Intimate and thoughtful. Review

Piotr Anderszewski at Queen Elizabeth Hall. A pianist I have long wanted to hear live, his concert in May did not disappoint. Beautifully elegant Bach, introspective Janacek and the romantic sweep of Schumann. A wonderful concert. More here

Sarah Beth Briggs at Craxton Studios. I include this not least for the wonderful venue, which was like stepping back into another time, and also for Sarah’s touching musical tribute to her teacher Denis Matthews. More here

Students’ Concert at Hampton Hill Playhouse. My concert round up would not be complete without a mention of my students’ concert in March, a lovely evening of shared music making and a celebration of my students’ achievements. Laurie gave a very witty performance of the second movement of John Cage’s 4’33”, but everyone played brilliantly, and we enjoyed a jolly party in the foyer of the theatre afterwards, thanks to the friendly, helpful staff at the Playhouse.

NPL Musical Society concerts. My local musical society, based at the National Physical Laboratory, Teddington, hosts a busy and varied season of concerts every year. Concerts are well-attended by a friendly and supportive audience, and this autumn I have enjoyed some wonderful concerts. My friend Helen Burford presented an eclectic programme of works by contemporary composers, including Martin Butler and David Rakowski, and paired Scarlatti with a work by Japanese composer Somei Satoh. Joseph Tong rounded off a fine lunchtime recital with a rollicking ‘Wanderer Fantasy’, and introduced me to the wonders of Sibelius’s piano repertoire. Nadav Hertzka played works by Tchaikovsky and premiered the arresting and ethereal ‘Five Breaths’ by Freya Waley-Cohen. Meanwhile, Madelaine Jones (presenting her post-grad audition programme) introduced us to the music of Louise Ferrenc, and Alice Pinto opened her recital with a Sonata by English composer and contemporary of Haydn, George Pinto. It has been great to enjoy so much quality chamber music just five minutes from my home.

Find all my reviews for Bachtrack here

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