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Rising star Hammond hits the right note at classic MAC concert

Clare Hammond: The MAC, Belfast

By Rathcol

BBC Radio Three is a welcome provider of classical chamber music concerts at any time of year. An added bonus for the Belfast Festival organisers is that they can use the BBC to provide content for the festival at this time of year - free of charge.

It was a fairly full house which greeted the solo piano recital by British rising star Clare Hammond on Friday in the MAC.

Beethoven's Pathetique piano sonata was the best known work on Clare Hammond's otherwise 20th century programme, and was perhaps a little out of character in other ways too. The first movement took a while to settle down, after which there were few surprises.

The more pungent textures and rhythms of three Szymanowski mazurkas elicited a more colourful aspect of Clare Hammond's pianistic approach, which boded well for the three mazurkas by Thomas Ades.

In both these sets, there was an attractive flexibility and deft lyricism.

With a light, delicate touch, her evident forte, she also caught the cool, neo-classical, French humour of Au gre des ondes by Henri Dutilleux.

The second half of the concert presented more hefty requirements, in the shape of Medtner's Sonata Romantica and the demanding Three Movements from Petrushka by Stravinsky.

There was a disappointing lack of engaging, romantic passion to engage with and portray the harmonic swirls and note-laden, pianistic whirls of the Medtner.

Despite an admirable display of pianism, Petrushka needed less careful reserve and more energetic abandon to have come alive.

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