Fine Performances from Llyr Williams of Liszt, Wagner and a Geraint Lewis Premiere

13/10/2011

  Beethoven, Geraint Lewis, Liszt, Wagner: Llyr Williams (piano), Swansea Festival, Brangwyn Hall, Swansea, 11.10.2011 (NR)

Beethoven, Sonata in F minor, op. 57 ‘Appassionata’
Geraint Lewis, Anatiomaros
Liszt, Three pieces from Années de Pélerinage
Wagner, transcr. Liszt, Liebestod

 

This recital was notable for the first public performance of Geraint Lewis’s Anatiomaros, a Festival commission written for Llyr Williams in memory of the Welsh composer Alun Hoddinott. The title, from a Welsh poem, roughly translates as ‘The Great Spirit’, and the two sections of the work depict ritual seasonal changes between summer and winter. The bell-chimes that open and close the piece may, I suspect, have been prompted by the note of the Cambodian temple bell that hung on the wall of Hoddinott’s garden studio, but elsewhere in the work there were surprisingly few indications of Hoddinott’s influence. I sensed here and there echoes of Britten, one of Hoddinott’s teachers, and there were attractive Welsh hymn-like themes floating above deep tolling basses. Oddly, too, there were quotations from Schumann – the opening bars of Waldszenen in the first section, giving a momentary Germanic colour to these largely Celtic forests, and, in the second section, the first, funeral-march Nachtstück: I felt I would need to hear the piece again before deciding whether these allusions emerged fully convincingly from the harmonic structure, or had been mischievously inserted into it. But I would like to hear the piece again.

The last time I heard Llyr Williams was as an accompanist for the Lieder prize at the Cardiff Singer of the World. I thought then both what a marvellous quality of support he was giving the singers, and what an example of musicianship he was modestly offering them. He early gained a reputation as a cerebral pianist, but surely the real point is that his intellect has so penetrated to the absolute core of the music that his fingers can lay it before us in utter simplicity. I think Brendel in his prime could do this, but not too many other contemporary performers. Llyr Williams found a delicate way of accentuating the melodic line against the rhythmic uncertainty in the slow movement of the Appassionata. His Vallée d’Obermann became a complete tone-poem, unfolding its tormented story with total assurance. Elegance and sensuous pleasure in the Fountains of the Villa d’Este, and the precision and clarity of his playing of even the most ferociously rapid staccato passages in the Tarantella were really beyond praise. Even the transcription from Tristan, so easy to over-play, appeared in a sublime radiance. The great pianists can take well-known works and make you somehow simultaneously remember and forget how well-known they are – and on this evidence I’d put Llyr Williams securely at the top of his profession.

Neil Reeve

Comments

Comments are closed.

Recent Reviews

Season Previews

__________________________________
  • NEW! Lyric Opera of Chicago’s 2020 Ring Cycles __________________________________
  • NEW! Roman River 2019 Festival __________________________________
  • NEW! Ex Cathedra’s 50th Anniversary Season in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! Geneva Grand Théâtre in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • UPDATED! 2019-20 at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden __________________________________
  • NEW! Bregenz Festival 17 July – 18 August 2019 __________________________________
  • NEW! City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! Musikfest Berlin 2019 from 30 August to 19 September __________________________________
  • NEW! 2019 BBC Proms 19 July – 14 September __________________________________
  • NEW! Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! Zurich Opera House in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! English National Opera in 2019-2020 __________________________________
  • NEW! Adrian Partington Introduces the 2019 Three Choirs Festival in Conversation with John Quinn __________________________________
  • NEW! ENB in 2019-2020 and Updates on their New London City Island Home __________________________________
  • NEW! Classical Music and Other Events at the Southbank Centre in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • UPDATED! Cleveland Orchestra in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! Classical Music at the Barbican in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • Subscribe to Review Summary Newsletter

    Reviews by Reviewer

    News and Featured Articles

    __________________________________
  • NEW! CHORUS MASTER STEPHEN DOUGHTY IN CONVERSATION WITH ROBERT BEATTIE __________________________________
  • NEW! Ron Howard’s Pavarotti in Cinemas 13 July (Preview) and Nationwide (15 July) __________________________________
  • NEW! MULTI-FACETED MUSICIAN JOY LISNEY IN CONVERSATION WITH ROBERT BEATTIE __________________________________
  • NEW! ‘MUSICAL MAGIC’: AN INTERVIEW WITH VIOLINIST HENNING KRAGGERUD __________________________________
  • NEW! English National Ballet Announces Winners of Emerging Dancer 2019 __________________________________
  • NEW! CONDUCTOR THOMAS SANDERLING IN CONVERSATION WITH GREGOR TASSIE __________________________________
  • NEW! Chelsea Opera Group Perform Anton Rubinstein’s The Demon on 30 June __________________________________
  • NEW! In August Fulham Opera’s Most Ambitious Project to Date – Die Meistersinger Von Nürnberg __________________________________
  • R.I.P. IN MEMORIAM ANDRÉ PREVIN (1929-2019) __________________________________
  • NEW! CHRISTOPHE ROUSSET IN CONVERSATION WITH COLIN CLARKE __________________________________
  • CONDUCTOR ÁDÁM FISCHER IN CONVERSATION WITH MICHAEL COOKSON __________________________________
  • MAESTRO RICCARDO FRIZZA IN CONVERSATION WITH MARGARIDA MOTA-BULL __________________________________
  • A Q&A WITH GERMAN SOPRANO PETRA LANG __________________________________
  • HOW TO CONTACT SEEN AND HEARD INTERNATIONAL __________________________________
  • Search S&H

    Archives by Week

    Archives by Month