| 11°C Belfast

Stunning cameo from a young Czech prodigy

Festivals don't only need headline events, they should provide cameo performances tucked into the nooks and crannies of a programme that surprises you with artistry and a shock of pleasure.

Certainly, American Exiles, a piano recital in Queen's Great Hall yesterday afternoon featuring small scale works by composers such as Prokofiev and Martinu, fitted the bill.

However, there was nothing small scale about the talent of the pianist, Lukas Vondracek, a 23-year-old Czech prodigy.

The programme began with Rachmaninov, whose Etudes-Tableaux were a perfect vehicle for Vondracek's virtuoso abilities. A prodigy needs emotional maturity as well as technical brilliance, and Vondracek has both.

Not only did he convey the argumentative conversation of the first Etude brilliantly, he suggested the funereal mood of |the third with sensitivity. And Number 8's sheer drama came off well, too.

One of the signs of a great musician is that he or she can find something new in a familiar work, and so it was with Dvorak's witty Humoresque.

In the Dohnanyi and Martinu pieces, Vondracek revealed more fireworks, and we were able to enjoy Prokofiev's piano sonata no 7 in B flat major.

There are worse ways to spend a Sunday afternoon.

Jane Hardy

Belfast Telegraph