You review: Danny Driver at Darlington Piano Society

Reader Liz Watford enjoys a programme of Beethoven, Adès and CPE Bach


I highly anticipated Danny Driver’s concert at Darlington Piano Society after reading the stellar reviews he has garnered in recent years: I was not disappointed. Subtle confidence and elegance with an intense edge meant that Driver's presence was competely compelling in his recital on Sunday 18 January.

Braving the wintry weather, the Darlington audience were treated to a concert comprising of Handel’s Suite No. 5 in E major, HWV 430, Thomas Adès’s Three Mazurkas, Op. 27 and Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 28 in A major, Op. 101, followed by fantasies by CPE Bach and Schumann.

Driver briefly introduced the themes of each half of the concert. In the first half, his performance of the Beethoven was of a very high quality. In particular I enjoyed the second movement, Vivace alla Marcia: while keeping to the sprightly rhythm and texture, Driver let in a hint of darkness behind the merry facade; this fed in to the much more contemplative Adagio, ma non troppo. This was all in great contrast to Adès’s Mazurkas that followed. In these, we were treated to a taste of Adès's humour.

The second half of the concert was all about Fantasy. I especially enjoyed CPE Bach's Fantaisie, H300 - seemingly centuries ahead of its time, the mixture of chordal and sequential melodies and ever-changing key signatures felt very contemporary. Schumann's Fantasy, however, was for my ears much more mixed – I felt the second movement, ‘Mäßig. Durchaus energisch’, was almost too dense at times; after this the final movement, ‘Langsam getragen. Durchweg leise zu halten’, felt like a sweet release. I'm sure I heard a quote from the Moonlight Sonata somewhere in there…


Liz Watford, Darlington



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