Daniel Tong’s concert of contrasts at Sidmouth

Sidmouth Music welcomes return visit of pianist Daniel Tong

ON his first return to Sidmouth since 2008, Daniel Tong, gave a performance of intense emotions for his piano recital in Knowle on Saturday as part of the Sidmouth Music series.

In a widely appreciated move, he gave an extensive introduction to each of the three pieces in his programme, expanding that already contained in the programme notes.

He opened with a Robert Schumann piece which is not often heard in concert: Faschingsschwank aus Wien (Carnival Jest from Vienna), though coincidentally it had been played in Seaton only two weeks earlier.

Dan explained that although cast as a “great romantic sonata” the piece was more akin to his other works like Carnaval and Papillons, which are collections of individual small items.

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The piece contains wide contrasts, from moments of yearning, perhaps for his beloved Clara, to dazzling cascades of notes. Its notable point is a risky political quotation from the French anthem La Marseillaise, which sometimes escapes the notice of audiences but here it was clear and evident.

Dan then played five items from Debussy’s first collection of Preludes, chosen to reflect their differing moods; the stately Danseuses de Delphes was followed by what for Dan evoked strong Mediterranean associations: a hillside view of the sea in Les Collines d’Anacapri and the heady scents of Provence in Les sons et les parfums tournent dan’s l’air du soir.

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The set finished on two lively pieces: La Danse de Puck, an impish view of Shakespeare’s character and Minstrels, where the players can be imagined drumming up an audience for their show.

The evening closed on the emotional penultimate sonata from Schubert, where Dan found real feeling in the andantino; the intense sense of yearning is repeatedly interrupted by heart stabbing darts of anguish, before the conclusion of a serene final movement.

He gave the piece an added human poignancy by reminding us that Schubert wrote the piece when he was six years younger than Dan is now, but within a matter of weeks was dead.

The next concert is on January 7 at 3pm also at Knowle and will be a recital of clarinet and piano. Euterpe

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