TITLE: Alessandro Taverna

VENUE: St Paul’s Hall, Huddersfield

REVIEW: By Chris Robins

THE slighter works in the second half of Huddersfield Music Society’s opening concert of the 2011-12 season were more fascinating than the two major works in the first half.

The major works, Mendelssohn’s Op. 28 Fantasy and Chopin’s Op. 58 Sonata, were also the least convincingly played by pianist Alessandro Taverna, a prize-winner at the 2009 Leeds Piano Competition, in an otherwise beautifully delivered recital.

His pauses and rhythm bendings in the Mendelssohn could not imbue this piece with any weight or drama and in the essentially tight and constrained Chopin he let the tensions escape.

But Chopin’s two final Nocturnes Op 62, Busoni’s Carmen Fantasy and Liszt’s Transcription of Rossini’s William Tell Overture – all essentially operatic – were superbly played and deeply satisfying.

The Liszt was obviously dramatic, the composer and Alessandro Taverna recreating Rossini and showing off their virtuosity while experimenting harmonically.

Chopin too soaked up Italian bel canto – the reflective Bellini style rather than the full-on Rossini – while bending its tonality.

Busoni’s hero, Liszt, showed him the way to marry German and Italian styles and develop his own extensions of harmonic and atmospheric possibility that later became standard sound-worlds for 20th century composers.

Taverna led us through the musical experiments of the three composers with clarity and panache.

His choice of encore – Liszt’s Transciption of the Tristan and Isolde final scene – seemed inevitable, as the tonal and harmonic developments of Chopin, Busoni and Liszt he had guided us through had pointed in Wagner’s direction all evening!