SATURDAY 8th NOVEMBER 2014
A PIANO MASTERCLASS
Music Nairn's audience on 8 November was privileged to hear the distinguished British pianist Martin Roscoe give an exquisite demonstration of musicianship when he played sonatas by Haydn, Beethoven and Schubert, and also rarely performed pieces by Dohnanyi. Roscoe has been performing on the concert platform for over 40 years, and his maturity shone through.
His recital started with a familiar sonata by Haydn, followed by Beethoven's 'Little Pathethique' sonata – so named because it anticipates its better known larger cousin. As Roscoe explained to the audience, Beethoven demonstrated in this early fifth sonata that he was determined to break away from the well established style of composers such as Haydn; thus the music alternated, so typically of Beethoven, between smoothly flowing melodies and exclamatory passages. Roscoe's playing of the Haydn was totally in the character of Haydn, and then his playing of the Beethoven was in that different character. The clarity was exceptional, every phrase was perfectly nuanced, and use of the sustaining pedal was minimal. The first half of the recital concluded with a selection of pieces by Dohnanyi, whose complete piano works Roscoe is in the process of recording, having just completed recordings of all the Beethoven sonatas. Dohnanyi had a very long and varied musical life, and his writing for the piano was influenced by other composers of his time (eg Liszt and Bartok). The pieces chosen by Roscoe opened a new vista for the audience, and he warned that the last piece (the Rhapsody in C) would terrify those present apart from himself. It did!
After the interval Roscoe played one of the greatest piano sonatas in the repertoire – Schubert's in Bb major, written shortly before the composer died. Roscoe explained that whilst some think the sonata is dark in mood, he looks upon it as a work of great serenity. The audience clearly did, because you could have heard a pin drop for 40 minutes. What Roscoe achieved, aided by Music Nairn's superb Steinway piano, was absolute perfection. Every note was perfectly voiced and spoke for itself, every phrase was finely crafted, and a work that is so familiar took on a completely different complexion. Roscoe achieved this without any exaggeration in his interpretation – a mistaken temptation that many young pianists fall into. This was pure Schubert played at the level of legends of the keyboard.
In summary, the audience enjoyed an exceptional musical experience, and Nairn must be grateful to the Davidson Trust who made Music Nairn's purchase of such an excellent piano possible. Without such an instrument music making of this excellence would just not be possible in Nairn.