This evening of Beethoven, Schumann and Brahms – what more suitable way could we have found to celebrate an important milestone: the opening of our tenth anniversary season, and, performed by none other than pianist Llŷr Williams. It was an evening of pure delight, an exploration of richness in sounds, texture, mood and imagination. Throughout the performance, Llŷr kept every aspect of the music under control; his meticulous precision and clarity was admirable to the extent that we appreciated every single note played.
Beethoven’s 32 Variations, a short work lasting merely eleven minutes, was a tight pack of artistry and contrasts in dynamics and rhythms. The 8-bar original theme, demonstrated by Llŷr in an authoritative manner, changed its forms and textures freely at his fingertips, from the aggressive and forceful passages to most sweet lulling moment.
Coincidentally, I have had the chance to hear the next piece, Schumann’s Humoreske, by various pianists in recent weeks. Well, I can confidently confess that Llŷr’s most beautiful and thoughtful rendition of this work surpassed them all. The opening melody was irresistibly dreamy and song-like, which could linger on forever. The mood switch in the music was incredible – one moment you’d be skipping in playfulness, or you’d be pulled into tenderness of the lyrical highlight, and the next moment you’d be surrounded by bright and bold energy. All described and presented by Llŷr in his thoughtful way.
Brahms’ Theme and Variations in D minor, which I must admit I had not come across before, was an absolute gem. The transformation of the rather stern and rigid theme was striking, being extended and stretched into full dimensions. I enjoyed Llŷr’s pianistic display of turbulent ebbs of rapid scales, but the highlight for me was the sublime tenderness and sensitive expression in the major, which gave a tingling sensation.
Brahms’ Piano Sonata No. 3, the last and finest of his sonatas, was composed when he was just 20 years old! It is grand, heroic, powerful and orchestral. Llŷr’s virtuosity was apparent, his performance so fluent and victorious. It was powerful, but never forceful, played with a weight of secure density. The third movement Scherzo has always been my favourite, and I was more than happy to hear its demonic leaps across the keyboard with such an amazing accuracy and articulation.
Schubert’s Impromptu Op. 90 No. 3, “a little Schubert to send you home with”, concluded the evening.
We thank His Worship, the Mayor of Woking, Councillor Will Forster and the Mayoress, Hannah Thompson, as our guests-of-honour to open our Tenth Season.