Mendelssohn given fresh insight

Alasdair Beatson gives shape and weight with sensitivity and devotion to Mendelssohn's perfectly regulated score

Composer: Mendelssohn
Repertoire:  Sonata in E; Songs without Words; Variations; Sonate Ecossaise
Artists: Alasdair Beatson (pf)
Rating:  4/5
Genre: Instrumental
Label: Somm SOMMCD0104

The Music: Mendelssohn’s piano music offers far more than just fleet-fingered flights of fancy, as witness the Op.82 Variations, a late masterpiece of beguiling invention and simplicity.

The Performance: The temptation to allow Mendelssohn’s perfectly regulated music to speak for itself has proved irresistible for some players. Not Alasdair Beatson, however, who shapes and weights every phrase with a caring devotion, liquid sonority and gentle cantabile ideal for Mendelssohn’s soundworld. There are times here where one could scarcely credit a hammer mechanism is involved. Beatson also shows a rare sensitivity for important harmonic events so that the listener is kept aware continually of where the music is heading.

The Verdict: Just occasionally, as at the start of the Sonata’s finale, a greater sense of uncontainable elation would have provided the icing on the cake, but this is still highly sensitive playing of rare insight.

Want More? Beatson’s debut recital(SOMMCD086) is well worth seeking out.

■ Name Alasdair Beatson
■ Born 30 March 1980, Perth, Scotland
■ Studied with John Blakely at the Royal College of Music, London, and Menahem Pressler at Indiana University
■ Solo recitals have included four
at the Wigmore hall (with a fifth coming up in May 2012) and an artist residency throughout 2010 at the new Perth Concert Hall
■ Future performances include chamber music at the Aldeborough Festival in June and a concerto tour with the Scottish Ensemble in late October