A piano recital at Tickhill Music Society always attracts a good audience, and the recent performance by the young French pianist Emmanuel Despax was no exception. Parisian by birth, but resident in England from a young age, he presented a programme of monumental works from the 19thcentury, starting with “Prélude, Choral et Fugue” by César Franck. This is a challenging piece, written by an organist for the piano, and requiring the performer to execute a great deal of work with left hand crossed over right. Despite resembling a test piece, this was carried off with apparent ease.
The Franck was followed by a piece in similar mould by Franz Liszt, “Après une lecture du Dante: Fantasia quasi Sonata”. A torrent of notes was navigated effortlessly, and the contrasting quiet passages were treated delicately.
The second half was occupied by a single work, Schubert’s B flat Sonata, composed a month or two before his death. This was more familiar territory for the audience, and presented a safe haven after the storms of the first half. Emmanuel played with calm mastery and received deserving applause for a commanding performance.