Home | Reviews | Articles | Festivals | Competitions | Other | Contact Us

Young Artists at Wigmore Hall 5 December 2005












Sibelius Humoresques Nos 1 & 6 (for violin and piano) Wieniawski Variations on an Original Theme Op 15

Sonata for clarinet and piano
Poulenc Sonata for clarinet and piano

Proses lyrique
Richard Strauss Act Gedichte au ‘Letze Blatter' Op 10




An interesting evening of young artists, some of them making Wigmore Hall debuts. One should reserve judgment of the eighteen year old violinist (Shanghai and now Chetham's) just back from Finland with the 2nd prize of the Sibelius Competition gained two days before. Before that he'd won the Wieniawski Competition and succeeded in another in Novosibirsk...

His pieces to open this concert suggested that he'd been forced-fed on Pagannini and should take a long rest from competitions to develop his all round musicianship. Obviously, with that CV, he is technically impressive and his fireworks duly impressed the audience, but those competition pieces made unsatisfactory Wigmore Hall recital items, and the lumpy accompaniment (a thankless task for Brenda Blewett) was little help to him.

The rest of the concert was in a different class, two duos that had worked up their well chosen offerings with detailed preparation, which they were able to have left behind them in the rehearsal room.

Timothy Orpen is a fabulously well equipped clarinettist, with a natural platform manner and ease of delivery which makes one feel that the instrument is a part of his self, not a recalcitrant appendage to be tamed and mastered. His command of breathing, and especially pianissimo, was outstanding. With Alison Farr (an established solo recitalist as well as an accompanist) there was the rapport that comes with musical sympathy and mutual understanding.

Bax's sonata (1934, infrequently played - prejudice against native British composers of the early 20th C ?) was an ideal vehicle for this duo to introduce themselves. The lovely late Poulenc (1962) was vivacious; may I mention just that the Allegro tristamenente was launched maybe a little too swiftly, and that Alison Farr might have matched the ardour of Timothy's phrasing of the lyrical melodies a little less reticently?

Timothy Orpen has a well established orchestral career and is handicapped only by the paucity of opportunities for wind instrument players to make solo careers; on this showing, he is already one of the best.

But for most of us the enduring memory of this shared concert will be the Wigmore Hall debut of Katrina Broderick of RNCM, Leipzig and now GSMD. A rich, generous soprano voice with no awkwardnesses in any register, she had a relaxed platform manner which conveyed confidence in her instrument.

The two groups were well chosen. Debussy's expansive Proses lyriques songs (composed just before Pelleas & Melisande) were given with thoughtful word painting and excellent French diction, and with acutely sensitive partnership with Jonathan Beatty. The Strauss selection had plenty of contrast and made for an uplifting finish to the evening. I look forward to hearing Katrina Broderick in a full length solo recital.


© Peter Grahame Woolf