Christina Lawrie

Pianist Christina Lawrie was October’s guest artist for the Strathearn Music Society and presented a substantial programme which celebrated all the bold freshness of the best-loved 19th century masters and the excitement of early Romantic piano virtuosity.

In acknowledgement of their predecessor Handel, the concert opened with his Suite in D minor, written for the harpsichord at the beginning of the 18th century, when the sound of today’s concert grand was unimaginable. The development of modern “pianism”, however, simply adds a new dimension to the keyboard repertoire of the Baroque and full-blooded performances such as this always open new windows of colour and expression which would surely delight their creators.

Beethoven’s “Pathétique” Sonata (1799) actually just misses the following century by a year, but its underlying character is nevertheless nothing short of dramatic, tumultuous and highly personal – all the hallmarks of the flowering Romantic spirit, here captured in careful balance but with the occasional reflective backward glance at an earlier style.  

Fast forward another forty years to the distilled melancholy and power of Chopin’s great F minor Ballade and the world has truly changed, presenting musical and technical challenges which only the very best players can contemplate. Here, control and command were clearly a given and the whirlwind ending to this compact and intense piece was delivered with consummate panache.

Three of Grieg’s lovely Lyric Pieces and Mendelssohn’s elfin Rondo Capriccioso provided a window of lighter lyricism to start the recital’s second half before its conclusion with Schubert’s “Wanderer” Fantasy. Rising with absolute confidence to the challenges of this mighty piece, Christina Lawrie scaled its heights and explored its depths with apparent ease, finally dispelling the last traces of Olympian struggle and tempest from the air with the calming ripples of Christian Sinding’s evergreen favourite “Rustle of Spring”, a popular and well-received bonbon, as encore.

Next concert: Naomi and Fali Pavri, cello and piano, with clarinettist Yann Ghiro play woks by Beethoven, Poulenc, Debussy, John Mayer and Brahms;   Wednesday, 29th November  at 7.30pm in St Andrew’s Hall. Tickets available from Carnelian Crafts and at the door. 

Howard Duthie