Concert review

Martin Roscoe (piano)

Monday 20th September

Penrith Music Club opened its 2021-22 season with a concert featuring the much-loved pianist, Martin Roscoe. The concert -- postponed from last year -- featured an all-Beethoven programme, belatedly celebrating the 250th anniversary of the great composer’s birth.

The evening opened with the ever-popular Pathétique Sonata – a piece very close to Beethoven’s heart, and one of only two sonatas that Beethoven himself gave a name to. Although often performed, Martin’s intelligent and insightful interpretation allowed us to hear the piece afresh, particularly in the third movement, where the slightly slower tempo and wonderful tonality shone fresh light on the music.

A lesser-known work followed, the delightful Eroica Variations in E flat, Opus 35, consisting of a set of variations, followed – rather unexpectedly – by a concluding fugue. As a contrast to the sombre Pathétique, the piece worked very well, revealing a more humorous side to Beethoven’s personality.

After a short interval, Martin continued with a rarely-played set of six Bagatelles, Opus 126. On the surface, this appears to be a rather trivial set of miniatures, but Martin’s luminous performance revealed a much more profound quality to the music.

To conclude the concert, we were very fortunate to hear Martin play one of Beethoven’s greatest works, the Opus 110 sonata in A flat. This sonata, alongside the equally epic Opus 109 and Opus 111, make up Beethoven’s final trilogy of sonatas, and provide without question some of the finest music ever conceived. Opus 110 spans the full gamut of human emotion, from the relative peace and tranquillity of the opening movement, through to the intensity and heroic coda of the final movement.

As the final notes died away, applause echoed around the building for minutes, the audience thrilled to hear such wonderful musicianship, and delighted to welcome Martin back to Penrith for his eighth concert - the first having taken place in 1991.

Martin is the consummate artist, the pianist’s pianist. He plays with no artifice or ego, and there are no unnecessary flourishes or embellishments. Every phrase, every note is deeply considered, and there is great authenticity to his playing – he gives us exactly what is required from the music, no more, no less.

This was a truly compelling and inspiring evening of remarkable music, conceived by a great composer, and interpreted by a fine artist at the peak of his profession.

Updated on 27th June 2022
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