FringeReview UK 2019
Adam Heron was a category finalist in the BBC Young Musician of the Year contest. He plays Bach balanced his French suite No 3 in B minor BWV814 and Schubert’s Piano Sonata No. 16 in A minor D845.
Adam Heron was a category finalist in the BBC Young Musician of the Year contest. He’s also a conductor and composer studying at the RAM. This Saturday he’s conducting a concert of Boyce symphonies and Mozart’s Piano Concerto No, 13 in C with his girlfriend this time at the piano. He’s twenty.
His recital of Bach and Schubert balanced his poise and blaze. Bach’s French suite No 3 in B minor BWV814 is an unusual choice. No. 5 is the best known, yet this tenebrous piece in quite a remote key for the baroque (Couperin’s Ordre No 8 is a rare parallel, and of course Bach’s later B minor mass).
Heron’s particularly strong in emphasizing inner voices and commands a near-crystalline perfection on the recently reconditioned Elysian piano. Heron’s necessarily light on pedalling in this baroque work, never designed for a modern grand. Being light-toned and French, this model is inviting.
The opening Allemande proclaims shadows and the whole work’s suffused with them. There’s a curious evenness of texture and timbre throughout, and its unvarying pitch makes one understand why its not popular. But that’s missing Bach’s point. The Courante’s a slow-running thing, darting into shadows and full of an inwardness some other Suites eschew for sunshine brilliance.
The Sarabande’s in some ways the heart of the work, where the work eddies in a dense refractory way. The Menuet-Trio with its memorable tripping in dotted rhythm is the best-known element of this work, but even here in the Trio there’s a further eddy. The Anglaise is almost as famed – with its descending tied note emphatic and fleet. The final Gigue emphasizes a paradox: the speed of dark and impenetrable calm.
Schubert’s Piano Sonata No. 16 in A minor D845 from May 1825 (just before the 9th Symphony) is one of those works that opens in a small pianissimo question then blazons with a sudden march-like figure that swaggers throughout the opening Moderato. Heron’s particularly good at micro-shifts and emphasizing how Schubert knows exactly how to sideslip into a completely different rhythm and almost sound-world. It dilates, wanders, gathers a kind of intensity by sudden outbursts shrouding themselves in a tense quiet. It ends in a stentorian coda. Heron makes the speed and sashaying in and out illuminating – not easy in this strangely distressed sonata form.
The C major Andante poco moto is a thee and variations with slips into the minor and out again, some like the second a scherzando, vary tempi and suggest a flurry of mini-movements. There’s dissonant moments in D flat, which is pretty remote and unusual. The fourth variation runs 32nd notes chromatically and a bit weirdly. There’s a coda and resolving plagal cadence as if to convince you that it’s relatively conventional. Again Heron’s at home in this. It takes a lifetime to trick out Schubert’s slow movement and Heron’s begun well.
He makes a finely moulded argument for an essentially quirky movement next. We’re back to A minor in the Scherzo: Allegro vivace – Trio: Un poco più lento – the latter bit is in F major. As you might guess, if we’re back in the home key there’s quotes and fragments from the first movement, and Schubert’s pretty relentless at suddenly presenting memorable agogic distortions of it too. The F major Trio comes as a soft stark contrast.
The Rondo: Allegro vivace is also in A minor, thrillingly dark rondo-form with a foreshortened recapitulation, but it modulates to C major. There’s an exciting chord sequence and an unexpectedly economical finish for Schubert too – the accelerando closing section is over quickly and there’s velocity and fire in its affirmation. Heron can’t fail to delight in the relative simplicity and home-stretch sense that for once Schubert promises and delivers: no epic trek over a wintry landscape first.
A superb recital, a truly outstanding young talent, one who’ll deepen the shadows he’s already plumbed here. Heron’s already a musician to watch out for, and we’re lucky he’ll return to Brighton, first at All Saints. Though he’ll undoubtedly make his career in London.