Jacob_Byrne

St Andrew’s Lunchtime Summer Recital provides musical refreshment in a hot Plymouth

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St Andrew’s Lunchtime Summer Recitals provide a welcome opportunity for anyone in the city centre to pop in, and perhaps have something to eat, as time permits. For the mainly-local recitalists involved, it can offer an eminently less-formal performance platform.

Pianist Jacob Byrne certainly fitted this profile. Essentially a language-graduate with a strong musical involvement, it gave him a chance to try out a projected diploma recital early, and, as such, was somewhat more a work-in-progress than the finished article.

Opening with Haydn’s C major Sonata, Jacob soon settled to a performance that addressed the composer’s intentions – largely articulate in the faster sections, with a well-shaped, expressive slow movement.

Brahms’s Two Rhapsodies, Op 79, need a big piano to do them justice. True the acoustic added sufficient resonance, but despite Jacob’s best efforts to compensate, the instrument wasn’t fully able to cope successfully with the thickness of the writing, especially in the bass. Good pianos don’t come cheap, but what a pity that a full-sized Steinway concert-grand spends virtually its entire life stuck on its side, just a few yards down in the Guildhall

Ravel’s lyrical Hommage à Rameau fared better, with its lighter, delicate textures, and despite an arduous drive down from Chippenham, Jacob finished on a lighter note with Gershwin’s own transcription of The Man I Love, by way of a generous encore on a decidedly warm day.

PHILIP R BUTTALL