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Thursday, June 6, 2019


(Left: Phillip Richardsen)

Richardsen’s playing was characterized by great restraint and he was never overbearing, displaying a depth of dignity in his playing which is seldom seen in other pianists. (Review by Martin Goldstein)

Friends of Music's recital on June 4, 2019, featured internationally-acclaimed concert pianist, Phillip Richardsen who performed Joseph Haydn’s Sonata in E-flat major, Hob. XVI/49, Percy Grainger’s Colonial Song, Sergei Lyapunov’s Transcendental Etudes, op. 11, no.’s 6 and 10, Edvard Grieg’s Suite From Holberg’s Time, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Suite The Nutcracker” and Franz Schubert’s Impromptu, op. 90, no. 4.

Phillip Richardsen had great presence and excellent articulation. He displayed a lovely touch and produced a shimmering tone. His playing was characterized by great restraint and he was never overbearing, displaying a depth of dignity in his playing which is seldom seen in other pianists. Richardsen can be described as being ever calm and composed. Also, his great stamina was evident throughout.

Possible criticisms include a lack of dynamic variation and also a lack of clarity in the pedalling. Nevertheless, in terms of his touch on the keyboard, he demonstrated the ability to adjust his sound from crisp to rounded. The Grainger was a courageous choice and displayed Richardsen’s understanding of a broad range of genres. He created a lovely kaleidoscope of sounds, painting a convincing sound picture. Perhaps, on occasion, it could be said that this picture lacked coherence. However, at all times, his playing was very controlled.

With regards to the Lyapunov, the first movement, no.6 of the Transcendental Etudes, op. 11, it could be said that this was not exactly his genre. Nevertheless, he displayed wonderful agility and stamina. Richardsen must be commended on his excellent octave work in the right hand. In the next piece, no. 10, he revealed a wonderful knowledge of the repertoire through describing some of its features to the audience. This movement really suited his crystal clear touch and his incredible agility. He also cultivated a sense of the Slavic genre, achieving a wonderful soundscape of tone colours.

In the first movement of the Greig, Richardsen achieved a lovely, poignant singing tone as the movement progressed. In the G minor movement, he made a considerable effort to effect a good sound quality and this is highly commendable. It could be said that in this movement, he was really listening to the quality and the timbre of the sound which he was producing. In the subsequent movement in G major, he displayed wonderful agility and a delightful interplay between the hands.

In the Tchaikovsky, Richardsen really captured the sound of the glass harmonica at the beginning of the movement in the upper register of the piano and his wonderful, light touch really came to the fore. In the third movement, his clarity of playing combined with his sense of timbre was ultimately united. In the Schubert, one felt as though Richardsen had entered into the composer’s world.  

(Right: Avuya Ngcaweni)

The Prelude Performer, Avuya Ngcaweni, can be commended on her vocal clarity and the precision of her vocal pitching. She performed Lágrimas mías from El anillo de hierro by Miguel Marqués, S'altro che lacrime from La Clemenza di Tito by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Ella a fui la tourtelle from Les Contes d'Hoffmann by Jacques Offenbach. She also had a mature interpretation of the sentiments inherent in the various time periods. Possible criticisms include a lack of dynamic variation, a diminished quality of vocal timbre in the higher register and the need for slightly more graceful phrasing. However, overall, Ngcaweni displayed very good voice control. With the Offenbach, she seemed to be most at home with this genre and demonstrated a good understanding of the narrative of the song. – Martin Goldstein

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