Jean-Sélim Abdelmoula, St David’s Hall

February 12, 2020 by


A near snowy afternoon in February featured Jean-Sélim Abdelmoula, Swiss pianist who appears to be making waves in the musical world.

In Schumann’s Fantasie lies some deeply moody music. That dense, German style of the early 18th century features heavily and at times can stir up vivid emotions, tears even. Sombre chords help bring you in to the work, rich in melodic tenderness, through sweetly perfumed notes. Abdelmoula is a bit of a composer himself and presented to us his Two Interludes. In his little introduction he said how his teachers expected more contemporary way of writing, though he was always keen to maintain a sense of traditional melody. Abdelmoula has achieved this with harsh moments harking back to Messiaen and Boulez, though some kind-hearted moment linger as well.

A rare hearing of two pieces by Lili Boulanger, was a welcome addition to the concert and one of the more attractive aspects for me. In Prélude en réb and Trois Morceaux pour piano, we get the evocative tendencies noteworthy in her work, this being a brief life having died at 24 due to respiratory problem. Debussy was always a big deal for Lili and you feel it in her work. These pieces prove her brilliance and can only remind you of the tragic loss of such a talent. Ending with Fauré’s Nocturne for piano No.13 in B minor, we heard the composer final work for piano. Battling hearing loss, the piece had anger abound, having a force hard not to focus on. This young pianist is very modest and has a geeky charm, the playing is controlled and very conservative in many respects. Through it all this it remained quite an underwhelming programme, with some highlights.

St David Hall’s next afternoon concert is Simon Desbruslais & Jakob Fichert on 25th February 2020, with music by Fauré, Fellows, Medtne & Gershwin.

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