Andrew Tyson at Codsall review



Codsall Community High School ****

Goodness, the folk at Codsall Community Arts do bring some remarkable pianists to this South Staffordshire village, from those at the start of their career, like Benjamin Grosvenor, to well-established names (Stephen Hough and Angela Hewitt immediately spring to mind).
This year's find was Andrew Tyson, a young American who has risen to prominence since winning major international competitions and is certainly one to watch.
More importantly he's one to hear, with a seemingly effortless technique – to judge from his absence of keyboard histrionics – that gives his playing a clarity (amazingly so in fast passages) and nuanced sensitivity. Even a few barely noticeable finger-slips hardly mattered when everything else was so perfectly formed.
But it was a pity Tyson didn't choose a more interpretively challenging programme. His account of Chopin's Sonata No. 3 was almost as pithy as the Scarlatti and Spanish miniatures that came before it, with no lingering tempi and a focus on tonal colour which, although impressive in itself, seemed to overlook the romantic heart of the work.
Conversely, his four Scarlatti sonatas were dressed in full 19th century rig (Tyson told us in the pre-concert talk how he much admires pianists of the past), with varied repeats, generous rubatos, exaggerated pauses and extra flourishes at cadences used to almost audacious effect.
And his Spanish collection – Granados' Valses Poeticos, each so short you hardly have time to take them in, and three more substantial ones by Albéniz – had all the charm, glitter and swirl of village dances, songs and guitars.
Three little pieces by Federico Mompou, as concentrated and beautifully formed as china figurines, provided the subtlest delights of the evening. Tyson should really make a CD of this rarely heard master of gentle minimalism; it's far more elegant and less banal than some we often hear.
David Hart

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