We are always a bit of anxious when we start our new season in the autumn, particularly so this time as this was a daytime recital. Our Matinée series is just into our second year and we are just getting used to organising it! Therefore, what an incredible joy to see a full-house of enthusiastic Breinton concert goers in broad daylight, all eager and ready.

Pianist Masayuki Tayama has earned an enviable reputation as a Rachmaninov specialist; indeed, his performance of the Etudes-Tableaux was compelling and full. He let us hear the grand scale of the work, showing darkness, vigour and temperament, but never without sensitivity. Each étude’s characterisation was excellent while meeting all the technical challenges – actually, the audience never felt them as ‘challenges’ as the music flowed very naturally, and at some places Masayuki looked like he was whipping out jazz!

The first étude in C minor was heard with a swirling and unsettling musical momentum, beautifully textured leading up to the climax. The second étude Sea and Seagulls was my favourite – it left impressionist imprints. This really was a picture-étude, you could almost imagine the constant waves of the ocean and grey sky above it. Etude No. 4 in B minor was a bouncy, dramatic and likeable gavotte, performed with pinpoint preciseness. What a brilliant piece étude No. 6 Little Red Riding Hood was, seriously dramatical but with a comical ‘run-and-chase’ element as well; my mind ran with the music! The dark chords which opened étude No. 7 Funeral March were total beauty, played with full-bodied sounds and glorious warmness. Then étude No. 9 Oriental March, an amazing audience shaking piece with striking harmonies.

This level of performance can only be achieved by a musician who has played and lived through it thousands of times. All the music was in his fingers, there was not a single unsure note that was played hesitantly.

Masayuki’s choice of encore was Chopin’s Nocturne in C sharp minor, his favourite nocturne. Serene and calm with hint of sadness.

More than a few members told me that they were very thankful that we had started the matinée series, and these kind comments mean the world to us. There are people who prefer to come to daytime events, and that is the precise reason why we thought about starting matinées to reach out to them.