Colin Stone's recital for Derby Chamber Music – Multi-Faith Centre, Derby University, 11 November 2022 - was oddly frustrating in some ways. He opened J S Bach's Partita No 4 with an arresting start to the Ouverture; ornaments were well articulated, and the Fugue had focus and clarity. The Courante, too, was nicely robust, and the concluding Gigue had well-focused details. Doubts arose in the other movements. The Allemande started with plenty of energy, but this began to drain away towards the end. The Aria was marked by some dubious changes of dynamic, and some excessive rubato, which also sidelined a sense of regular pulse – an essential feature of dance music – in the Sarabande.
His approach was more rewarding in Chopin's Andante Spianato and Grande Polonaise Brillante. The expressive range of the Andante was fully explored, followed by a nicely extrovert, strutting polonaise, and rapid passage-work had ideal clarity.
The first movement of Schubert's B flat Piano Sonata, D 960, was nicely unhurried, taking us through those special Schubert spaces though, again, Stone could have afforded to be more sparing with the rubato. The ominous left-hand trills were just a little too forceful, so that the one loud occurrence, at the lead-in to the first section repeat, didn't quite leap out as much as it could have done. He made something hypnotic of the persistent hand-crossing motif at the start of the second movement, and kept the third movement airborne, exploring the darker colours in the trio section. He moved into the finale with hardly any break. Though loud passages tended to be muddied with rather too much pedal, the expressive ambiguity at the start, and in the final bars as Schubert appears to just dismiss everything, was well balanced.
An over-indulgent reading of Debussy's La fille aux cheveux de lin was the superfluous encore.
Copyright © 26 November 2022