With magic in his hands Adrian Sims transformed his piano into a veritable orchestra as he wove through his repertoire exploring Romantic music. Charming us with his opening of Rondo Capriccioso, Op.14 he moved into Rachmaninoff’s extensive array of Preludes. Initially lulling the audience with the tinkling and ringing dance of the Prelude in G major, Op.32, No.5, we heard the darker, intense prelude in G minor as well as the typically Romantic Prelude in G flat major as it calmly swept through its resonant chords and simple melody. All six Preludes were precise and perfectly coloured with dynamics and emotion.
The Grainger piece taken from the opera Der Rosenkavalier by Richard Strauss delighted the audience with its classical arpeggio patterns and stratospheric chromatics as Sims teased the tune out. This contrasted well with the Chopin-Liszt Chant Polonaise No.5 which effortlessly absorbed the audience into its dancing melody in anticipation of the climb to its ringing conclusion. La Leggierezza painted for us the intense and unrelenting side of love as Sims performed unbelievable feats on the piano, which made for an echoing and haunting ending after such a technically complicated melody.
For the finale Sims chose the spell-binding rendition of Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No.2 which painted the story of the two lovers, one depicted with strong, heavy chords which contrasted with the lighter, tentative melody that responded. Alternating from one to the other, the song moved into a repetitive, traditional dance full of the joys of love and life that built and built into an abrupt climatic end.
Technically faultless, the set was full of emotion and displayed a range of pieces that explored every side of the Romantic genre. Adrian was a joy to listen to in this well-chosen compilation of beautiful music.