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New Generation Artists

Chopin Five Mazurkas; Mendelssohn Songs Without Words (Simon Trpčeski piano)
Stravinsky The Rite of Spring (two-piano version; Simon Crawford-Phillips & Ashley Wass pianos)

J S Bach Sonata in E flat major for flute and keyboard & Badinerie (Sharon Bezaly & Mahan Esfahani)
John McCabe Study No.12 (Sonata;world premiere Ashley Wass)
J S Bach/Villa-Lobos Prelude and Fugue for eight cellos
Villa-Lobos Bachiana Brasileira No.5 (Ailish Tynan & nine cellists)

Proms PCM 15 & 16; Chamber Music at Cadogan Hall, Sloane Square, London, 31 August 2009

The most importand thing about these chamber music "proms" (there are no standing places) is the venue, of which this picture gives a partial impression. The seats are comfortable and well raked in the body of the hall and the gallery, which sweeps round in a curve, the whole giving a feeling of inclusiveness and intimacy. And the sound is very good.

On this last day of August there were four daytime concerts; we covered two of them. Details of the others can be seen at http://www.bbc.co.uk/proms/2009/whatson/3108.shtml#pcm15 and heard for a week at http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/events/Proms/b00mdjsx/ etc. Do try; the sound quality on BBC iPlayer is now excellent.

Simon Trpčeski chose for his half hour intimate music which did not test his vaunted virtuosity. Indeed there will have been many in the near-capacity audience who will have played those easy mazurkas and popular Songs Without Words at home; a curious choice.

Stravinsky on two Steinways was pulverising, as exhausting for listeners as, evidently, for the embattled duo-pianists, whose synchrony was perfect, even though they never looked at each other. I remembered having enjoyed The Rite of Spring better a decade ago from duettists on a single piano, and have found my review of that great pianoworks'99 Festival at Blackheath: Stephen Coombs and Artur Pizarro were uncannily synchronous in duo, whether on two pianos or as duettists on one piano in Rimsky Korsakov's Scheherezade, delicious! In that spectacular Saturday morning recital, Jonathan Plowright joined Stephen Coombs, after a short pause, for the duet version of Stravinsky's Rite of Spring. It was extraordinary, and quite unpredictable, how little we missed the orchestral colours..

Sharon Bezaly raced through some Bach on her 24-carat gold flute to little effect and John McCabe's new homage to Tippett was too close to its subject and might have been mistaken for a lost, unpublished piece by Michael Tippett himself. This was not a work to discover the real McCabe, who is enjoying nations-wide celebrations of his 70th.

That concert and the visit to Cadogan Hall finished with an idiomatic performance of Villa-Lobos' Bachiana Brasileira No.5, preceded by a scrappy account of a Bach prelude from the 48 (better left to keyboards) and a better one of its companion 4-part fugue, shared between four pairs of cellos.

But what will leave this event indelibly unforgotten was how Ailish Tynan upstaged her BBC interviewer, a hilarious spontaneous performance which had the audience in fits of laughter and roars of applause; don't miss hearing her take over both interviewer and the packed audience at 38'30" on the link given above - a stand-up music comic in the making.

Peter Grahame Woolf