John Paul Ekins at The Fold, Billericay

Adagio in B minor, K540
Piano Sonata in F sharp, Op.78
Polonaise-fantaisie, Op.61
Harmonies poétiques et religieuses – Bénédiction de Dieu dans la solitude; Hymne de l’enfant à son réveil; Cantique d’amour
François Morel
Deuxième étude de sonorité

John Paul Ekins (piano)

Reviewed by: Tully Potter

Reviewed: 29 January, 2012
Venue: The Fold, Billericay, Essex

John Paul Ekins graduated from the Royal College of Music in 2009 with first-class honours. After winning a scholarship for further study at the Guildhall School, he graduated with distinction last year.

A likeable recitalist who introduced each item with brief remarks, he tailored his programme sensitively to an out-of-town audience. Some of his playing was outstanding, especially as he will encounter more responsive pianos during his career – and ones with less noisy actions.

In both Mozart’s great Adagio and Beethoven’s Opus 78, I would have liked a little more dynamic contrast. Ekins seemed to get into his stride with the Chopin, which he delivered with considerable bravura and cumulative power.

We are still getting fall-out from last year’s Liszt anniversary, which is good because this composer, for all his great fame, is not played as much as he deserves. Ekins was fully in command of his three choices from Harmonies poétiques et religieuses, although I hope he will consider spinning out the great ‘Bénédiction’ a little more. The piece can take a slightly more-reflective approach.

Ekins’s best playing came in his last number, the 1967 Étude by the French-Canadian pianist-composer François Morel (born 1926). This is a splendid virtuoso piece, a superb programme closer, and it was performed magnificently.As an encore, Ekins gave us Rodion Shchedrin’s quirky Humoresque, which he played with delightful timing and wit.

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