Many played (13) but few (6) could be chosen, in this evening of Junior performances. But the last was most definitely first, as the last player of the evening not only won first prize in the piano competition, but was also first performer of the evening on violin (though coming third, not last). This was Olivia Chesser, who played John Williams to open the recital and a Turina dance to win the Dashwood piano prize. Equally impressive to me in this section was Fayruz Megdiche in an eloquent rendering of Grieg’s ‘Notturno’. Third was Joe Hill in a very lyrical Gershwin performance, though Alex Hills was also remarkably adept in the very difficult third ‘Prelude’ by the same composer. With the promise shown by fourth formers such as Emma Grainger (Rebelo); George Pettifer (Kabalevsky); and Harry Simmonds (Fitkin), and the interesting repertoire chosen by their several outstanding piano teachers, the future of piano concerts at Cranleigh looks rosy.
Five more of the pianists also played in the strings section and the two ’cellists took the top prizes, with Deescha Chandrasma mesmerising the audience with the rarely heard ‘Chanson Triste’ by Arensky. The winner was also a violoncellist, Zoё Dixon, whose ‘Kol Nidrei’ by Bruch was the most intense and expressive music-making of the whole evening. This very Germanic-Jewish composition was, in fact, composed in Liverpool by a Protestant. Joe Hill also played his double bass; Abby Frett solo Bach; and Soo Choi gave us Tchaikovsky. But the player with the biggest fan-base in the Clive Stevens Recital Hall was Harry Moore who gave Kreisler just enough Schmaltz and Schlagobers to keep his Rosmarin Schön.
Praise is also due to the ever-musical accompaniments of Dr Marie Ward and the other Cranleigh Music staff who adjudicated and introduced a very enjoyable evening.