More than 50 piano enthusiasts turned up for this rather unconventional daytime recital at Breinton. After successfully running evening soirées for the past eight years, we launched a new daytime matinée recital series for our 2016/17 season. We felt there was a different set of audiences we could reach by offering concerts during the day: for instance, parents with young children who find it difficult to go out in the evening time; elderly people who do not like to drive in the dark; or freelance professionals whose schedule is more flexible than office workers. We are still at an early experimental stage, however it was lovely to find so many eager listeners and several new faces in the audience. After all, it is somewhat special, isn’t it, to indulge in an undoubtedly proper classical music programme in broad daylight? By ‘unconventional’, I mean it was an unusual full-length programme with an interval; most day-time concerts have a duration from 45 minutes to one hour without an interval.

Anna Tsybuleva’s programme ranged from the Baroque to Romantic era, offering plentiful contrasts in the mood and colours. She opened the concert with the delightful Scarlatti Sonata in A major K. 208, in which she presented the utmost tenderness and calmness which took us momentarily away from our busy life. This perfect moment of daydreaming was cut short by the next Sonata in F minor K519, a fast and lively affair with constant staccatos. 

Sonata No. 2 by powerhouse Brahms followed. This Sonata is not heard much, in fact it was the first time it had been performed at Breinton. She showed amazing control over her technique, secure memory and uncompromising belief in her convincing interpretations. 

The second half was all variations! Mozart wrote many piano variations, three in C major, the most notable one being the 12 variations on Ah, vous dirai-je, Maman, also known as Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. Anna’s choice was also in C major, based on the arietta Lison dormait from the opera Julie. I must admit I had never heard of this arietta, let alone the opera, but what a precious gem-packed 10 minutes the variations gave us. Adorable and sweet, if they had a physical form, you would definitely squeeze it tight with much affection. 

I love Schumann’s Symphonic Etudes, and for a long time I was hoping someone would play this beautiful mastery work. The etudes are in variation form apart from a couple of exceptions. The theme is expressively transformed, amplified and diversified, I think they are magically musical and beautiful. Needless to say, I was delighted to learn Anna included them in today’s programme. I enjoyed every moment from the onset of the theme till the triumphant ending. The only sad thing was, the posthumous variations were not included – due to the time constraint and balance of the programme. In my humble opinion they are utterly beautiful and characterful, particularly Variation V is out of this world, it sends me shivers every single time. Now I have a new project to bring Posthumous Variations to Breinton!

With an encore of The Girl with Flaxen Hair by Debussy, Anna concluded the recital.