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Liszt, Chopin, Griffes, Bentzon, Ginastera
Tonya Lemoh (Piano)

Liszt: La Vallé d'Obermann -
Charles T. Griffes: The White Peacock; The Fountain of the Acqua Paola (Roman Sketches Op. 7 nos.1 & 3)
Bentzon: Suite
Frédéric Chopin: Sonata in B minor Op. 35 no. 2 -
Alberto E. Ginastera: Danzas Argentinas -
J.S. Bach: Ich ruf' zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ BWV 639

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This Aarhus Royal Academy of Music debut graduation recital at the prestigious Musikhuset (November 2004) has given me great pleasure, and I am enjoying listening to it again now whilst writing. Tonya Lemoh (who, in an old-fashioned ladylike way does not disclose her age) has already a solid CV in Sydney, Cincinnati and Denmark, and is now a university teacher in Copenhagen, where I am sure she has a lot to offer and pass on to adventurous and sensitive students.

The programme is an enticing and original one. She has an affinity for Liszt, beginning her recital with La Vallé d'Obermann and demonstrating a good ear for the sonority of instrument and hall, and importantly for the harmonic meaning of the music and its transitions. Likewise an impressive account of the Chopin sonata, not always as strongly characterised as she may come to in the future - but she is, I suspect, the sort of pianist who draws an audience in rather than throwing the music out. Essentially, her technique supports her interpretative ideas and her tone never grows hard or ugly.

To stimulate her student audience, and interest critics, she has sensibly included 20 C novelties, two of Griffes' pioneering originals, Ginastera's Argentinian nationalism and, a real coup, a premiere of a neo-classical suite improvised in the 1970s by Niels Viggo Bentzon (1919-2000, revered in Scandinavia, but rarely heard in UK).

One of his improvised concerts was recorded at the time informally, and Professor Damgaard at Aarhus encouraged Tonya Lemoh (and her jazz pianist husband Thomas Walbum) to transcribe this suite from the old non-commercial recording; a challenging task.

The result here testifies to that composer's acclaimed skills as an improviser - he used to describe his composing process as 'frozen improvisation'. It is compact in eight characteristic movements, titled as for a Bach or Telemann suite, and it makes an intriguing and worthwhile recital item, with nice surprises along the way and a grandiose final coda.

I hope Ms Lemoh may soon have an opportunity to debut in UK at Wigmore Hall?


© Peter Grahame Woolf