Alasdair Beatson, Concerts in the West

ALASDAIR Beatson has been a regular performer since soon after the start of the Concerts in the West series in 2006 and indeed a patron of Concerts in the West for a number of years. His programming for the series in June was ingenious and infused with good humour.

It was unusual but rewarding to hear Beethoven’s first set of Bagatelles in concert. Alasdair pointed up each of the seven, Op 33, and despite their simplicity the individuality of each was delightfully brought out – unexpected key changes, strong accents and very occasional outbursts.

One of Alasdair’s favourite features of his programming is to select a handful of Bartók’s  Mikrokosmos, a set of more than 150 graduated short piano pieces, many of them with a folk element. Overall, Bartók’s musical language acted as cleansing palette, and prepared the way for Debussy’s Images, Book 2. Of all the music in this recital, the world of Debussy’s Images was one from which it was impossible to escape, even after the music had moved on, and  Alasdair found it easy enough to lose himself in this ‘inexpressible’ world.

Later we were introduced to Erik Satie in whose musical world Alasdair welcomed, for example, the sea cucumber in his Desiccated Embryos. Alasdair reminded us that the composer had added messages above the music, and clearly relished this avant-garde composition in his extravert performance.

There was time for two further contrasting styles:  Schumann’s deeply romantic Scenes From Childhood, in a spacious and moving performance; finally came Dohnányi’s celebrated third Rhapsody in C , a tour-de-force of bravura writing, allowing the soloist, as he did here, to indulge in explosive playing .

Concerts in the West June series: Lower Pulworthy, Bridport Arts Centre, Ilminster Arts Centre and The Dance House, Crewkerne.

Submitted by Anthony Pither

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