This one-off recital was a showcase of first-year talent from a group of four classical pianists from Edinburgh Napier University. With two or three turns each to exhibit their skills, they played music from the Baroque, Classical and Romantic periods; the most effective performances fell into the latter category.
This was overall an encouraging demonstration of young talent
First to perform was Samuel Hogarth. Bowing theatrically to initiate and complete both of his performances, Hogarth demonstrated near-flawless technique and a charismatic performance style full of style and character. At one point during Brahms’ dramatic Ballade in D minor (Op. 10 No. 1), his head was just inches from the keyboard; it was a touch affected, but he played with such flair that it only added to his performance. He is clearly a very bright talent. It was disappointing when his second performance – Scriabin’s Prelude in G flat major (Op. 11 No. 13) came swiftly to an end and we returned to the performances of the other soloists.
Mhairi Shrimpton began with a stately rendition of Brahms’ gushingly romantic Intermezzo in A Major (Op. 118 No. 2). A few nervous slips called into question her use of sheet music; perhaps she would have played better from memory. Her second outing, Debussy’s discordant La Plus Que Lente, suited her far better; she really excelled in its dynamic, rippling passages. Adam Kilgour’s first performance, the first movement from Haydn’s Sonata in C Major (Hob. XVI:48) felt a little too fast for him to keep up with, but his calm performance style won through in Chopin’s Waltz in A flat major (Op. 69 No.1), although its flourishes occasionally failed to fully succeed.
Rob Fleming’s performances were the most varied of all. He is clearly an experienced musician but his first pieces by Scarlatti were very rushed, with some muddled runs and trills. In an effort to stick to his self-inflicted tempo he did not play precisely and uniformly, key requirements of Scarlatti’s music. It never seemed effortless, unlike his second performance, of Chopin’s Prelude in C sharp minor (Op. 45). His final piece, Liszt’s Pensée des Morts was a 13-minute marathon. It was an impressive feat to play the entire piece from memory, but its runs were muddied by the pedal and it ended up feeling like a self-indulgent mistake, not a triumph.
This was overall an encouraging demonstration of young talent. The latter three musicians performed admirably but none compared to the polish and style of Hogarth, who will surely go far.