Music by J.S.Bach, Beethoven, Scriabin, Sibelius, Mendelssohn & Kapustin
Toccata in D minor, BWV 913
Toccata in D minor, BWV 913
Sonata no.5, op.53
The Trees, op.75
Andante and Rondo Capriccioso, op.14
Three Studies in Different Intervals
There is no doubt that Clare Hammond is at the forefront of young British pianists and her remarkable talent was displayed at a concert at the United Reformed Church on Sunday afternoon 15th. November. Soon to be widely recognised for her part in the film "The Lady in the Van" Clare takes the part of Dame Maggie Smith`s younger character, concert pianist Miss Shepherd, who had fallen on hard times.
Starting with J.S.Bach`s Toccata in D minor BMW 913, this polyphonic masterpiece was played with every strand and entry clearly heard and virtually allotted their individual tones, such was their clarity. Apparently Clare has achieved a doctorate in studying 20th. century Piano Concertos for Left Hand alone; a remarkable feat which maybe helps to explain her dexterity in either hand.
A very powerful and individual rendering of Beethoven`s fourth piano sonata in E flat op.7 made an interesting change from those more frequently performed. She displayed a great variety of dynamic contrasts throughout resulting in a very satisfying hearing.
After the interval, the long (457 bars!) Sonata No.5 by Alexander Scriabin was a daunting introduction to the second half. Written down in 1907 but contemplated many times before, it is a "tour de force" in a one movement extended sonata form. The gigantic demands, of both technique and musicality proved to have no fears for this pianist and the passions and strange mystical feelings of the composer were conjured up atmospherically throughout, right up to the upward rushing end climax.
"The Trees"op.75 by Sibelius provided a necessary respite from the previous demands, and proved to be five charming sound pictures of a woodland scene most sensitively portrayed, and including the gentle Rowan, the stately Pine,and the shimmering Birch.
Mendelssohn`s well known and popular "Andante and Rondo Capriccioso" was played joyfully, sensitively, and at a fine pace, providing an uplifting experience for the listeners who were now all agog to hear the final piece!
Kapustin is a mixture of a jazz and a classical composer and his "Five Studies in Different Intervals" of which we were to hear three are of great difficulty and beyond the powers of only the very ablest pianists. As the name implies, they are based around certain keyboard intervals, some of which are distinctly dissonant (e.g. minor 2nds) but taken at the right speed and with suitable associations of notes, the effects are mesmerizing and astounding to the listener ! Thus it was,and Clare amazed us all with her seamless brilliance.
This young lady is destined to go far in the pianistic firmament and the sixty or so people who attended the concert received a real treat from an artiste whom we were privileged to hear in person.
Acclaimed as a pianist of “amazing power and panache” (The Telegraph), Clare Hammond is recognised for the virtuosity and authority of her performances and is developing a “reputation for brilliantly imaginative concert programmes” (BBC Music Magazine, ‘Rising Star’). In 2014 she gave debut performances at 7 festivals across Europe, including the ‘Chopin and his Europe Festival’ in Warsaw, world premieres of works by 10 composers, and three broadcasts for BBC Radio.
Hammond’s latest disc release, ‘Etude’, has received unanimous critical praise for its “unfaltering bravura and conviction” (Gramophone), was selected as Critic’s Choice by Classical Music Magazine, and the BBC Music Magazine stated that “this array of wizardry is not for the faint hearted”. Both ‘Etude’, and Hammond’s previous disc of music by Andrzej and Roxanna Panufnik, ‘Reflections’, were featured on BBC Radio 3’s ‘In Tune’ and ‘CD Review’. In 2014 Hammond recorded music by Sibelius and Rangström as part of a BBC Symphony Orchestra studio concert for ‘Afternoon on 3’ while in 2012 her live recital broadcast of Ravel’s Le Tombeau de Couperin from the Wigmore Hall was chosen as one of Radio 3’s highlights of the month.
Last year Hammond gave a Panufnik Centenary tour of Poland with a series of recital and concerto performances, under the auspices of the British Council’s ‘Artists’ International Development Fund’. Her debut recital at the ‘Chopin and his Europe Festival’ in Warsaw was recorded for broadcast on Polish Radio. Hammond also co-curated and managed the festival ‘Panufnik 100: a family celebration’ with the Brodsky Quartet at Kings Place in London which was hailed as the “culmination of this year’s Andrzej Panufnik centenary” (The Telegraph).
Contemporary music forms an important part of Hammond’s work. In recent years she has given premieres of major works by composers Robert Saxton, Edwin Roxburgh, John McCabe and Arlene Sierra. The Guardian wrote of her performance of Ken Hesketh’s Horae (pro clara) at the Cheltenham Festival in 2013 that she “displayed its scintillating passagework and poetic calm with great flair”. In 2015, she will premiere a concerto for trumpet and piano by Geoffrey Gordon with Simon Desbruslais and the English Symphony Orchestra and record a disc of solo piano works by Ken Hesketh for BIS.
An active chamber musician, Hammond has worked with the Brodsky, Endellion, Badke, Dante and Piatti Quartets and in duos with Andrew Kennedy, Jennifer Pike, Philippe Graffin and Lawrence Power. She is a member of the Odysseus Piano Trio alongside violinist Sara Trickey and cellist Gregor Riddell. In autumn 2015 she will appear as a younger Maggie Smith in Nick Hytner’s film adaptation of Alan Bennett’s play The Lady in the Van.
Hammond completed a BA at Cambridge University, where she obtained a double first in music, and undertook postgraduate study with Ronan O’Hora at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama and with Professor Rhian Samuel at City University London. She completed a doctorate on twentieth-century lefthand piano concertos in 2012 and is in demand as a speaker, regularly giving presentations for research series at universities across the UK. In 2014 she was paired with French pianist Anne Queffélec on the Philip Langridge Mentoring Scheme run by the Royal Philharmonic Society.
Hammond is grateful for the support of the Fidelio Charitable Trust, Help Musicians UK, Stradivari Trust, Ambache Charitable Trust, British Korean Society, Chandos Memorial Trust, Vernon Ellis Foundation, Polish Cultural Institute, RVW Trust, British Council, Arts Council England, John S Cohen Foundation, and the Hinrichsen Foundation.