REVIEW: Supernatural concert from two talented pianists

Vernon and Quebec talents wow crowds at Performing Arts Centre

James Leonard

Special to The Morning Star

The concert began with 17-year-old Noah Wessels – a student at Vernon Christian School. He began with three Chopin pieces; the most dazzling being the Revolutionary Etude by Chopin. The piece has a difficult passage for the left hand that surges up and down the keyboard while the right hand issues fanfare like chords. Wessels was certainly up to the task even though he began studying piano in 2015.

After hearing Charles Richard-Hamelin play only the first few passages of Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No.13 in Eb major (in a fantasy style), I knew I was in the presence of one of the world’s great pianists. To quote Robert Harris of the Globe and Mail (Jan. 17, 2016): “His sense of time, harmony, above all, his structural originalities, are immensely sophisticated and daring. He seemed to be aware of the total Chopin by exposing inner voices and harmonic twists in both left and right hands.”

I agree whole heartedly with Harris. All these accomplishments at the age of 30! His virtuosity never got out of hand nor did his playing become grotesque during loud passages.

During the Moonlight Sonata (which was named such after Beethoven’s death) opening Adagio, I heard the real intention of the music with the rising sounds of sadness and despair brought forward by Richard-Hamelin’s skill. A furious Presto ensued, possibly representing anger or despair. This man gets you thinking by the way he plays.

Before intermission, Richard-Hamelin played a little known Fantasia in F sharp minor by Mendelssohn. I know why the piece was not played often – it is so difficult. No problem for our soloist. He breezed through the three movements with total abandon. His playing was so steady and confident throughout the piece.

After intermission we were treated to 12 Preludes, from opus 28 by Chopin. There was lots of variation in the length and character of each. They were played close together like a Suite. To finish the program, Richard-Hamelin played Chopin’s Andante Spianato and Grande Polonaise op. 22. The latter of the two was a stunning close to the concert; with cascading octave runs played with great confidence and skill; giving the effect of two players. After a short encore (I couldn’t hear the title as it was announced off mic) and a second standing ovation, Richard- Hamelin bid his audience adieu. What a wonderful evening indeed.

The next NOCCA concert is Saturday, March 28, at 7:30 p.m. featuring a cellist, harpsichordist and archlutist.

-James Leonard is with the North Okanagan Community Concert Association, which presents shows at the Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre

READ MORE: Star Quebecois pianist to take the stage in Vernon

READ MORE: Vernon students first choir to take on Canadian Paralympic song


@VernonNews
newsroom@vernonmorningstar.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

EntertainmentLive music

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Lake Country Food Bank welcomes wheelbarrow load of donations

Rotary Club presents symbolic cheque for the $24,600 raised since August 2018

Vernon family shares story of son’s cancer recovery to encourage blood donation

Finlay Ritson’s parents can’t donate blood, but hope his story will encourage others to do so

WATCH: North Okanagan seniors stay fit in self-isolation

Residents have taken to their balconies to follow along in exercise class

‘An extra $220 every 90 days’: B.C. patients pay more dispensing fees due to prescription limits

The Kelowna woman says it’s outrageous to charge for refills every 30 days

Colouring book will feature images of Summerland

Project is a joint initiative of Summerland Museum and Summerland Community Arts Council

‘Hold our line’: 29 new cases of COVID-19 announced in B.C.

Saturday’s number of new cases marks the lowest in weeks.

Visitor to Kamloops army club tests positive for COVID-19: Interior Health

The individual visited Anavets 290 Army and Navy Club between March 13 and March 17

Two inmates found positive for COVID-19 at federal prison in B.C.; other tests pending

15 staff self-isolating waiting results, refusal to work notice sent, says correctional officer

COVID-19: Staying home in Shuswap is difficult when you don’t have one

As the snow flies, people without homes in Salmon Arm talk about how tough life is

Critic, workers’ group ‘disappointed’ Trudeau chose Amazon to distribute PPE

Amazon Canada said in an email to The Canadian Press that it is working with Canada Post, Purolator

Vernon politician questions if response to COVID-19 worse than virus

Precautions make sense but destroying economy in process doesn’t, says Coun. Scott Anderson

‘Always look on the sunny side,’ Okanagan senior says

Heaton Place resident shares story of growing up in Roaring Twenties

92-year-old Vernon woman crochets 1,000 toques for donation

Daisy Ferguson has been working on the toque project for the past six years

COVID-19: ‘Think before you click,’ north Okanagan city says

City of Armstrong urges residents stay safe online as phone, email scams on rise amid pandemic

Most Read