This concert was dedicated to Beryl Champin, who died last year, a much-loved teacher and colourful character who spent 33 years at Birmingham Conservatoire.
She inaugurated the Trust in 1989 after the death of her husband, the pianist and musical scholar Denis Matthews, and since then it has benefited many of the Conservatoire’s students.
Matthews also composed, and his Rhapsody for Solo Piano, combining the percussive drive of his beloved Beethoven and a skittish sense of humour evident in his autobiography, was given a sparkling performance by postgraduate student Luo Ting.
The Conservatoire has organised a week-long celebration of the music of Delius and John Ireland, and the latter’s piano concerto gave De-Wet Lee, another postgraduate student, a chance to shine.
She was a little inhibited in the finale, which wasn’t quite giocoso enough, but otherwise admirable in both the frolicsome first movement and the meditative lento. The Birmingham Junior Conservatoire Symphony Orchestra, under Daniele Rosina, gave fine support.
After youth came experience, the Conservatoire’s head of keyboard studies John Thwaites and his long-standing musical partner Alexander Baillie gave a powerful performance of Ireland’s Cello Sonata, a spikier and more intense work than the concerto. The Cello Sonata of Ivor Keys was densely argued and occasionally knotty – it had Thwaites mopping his brow – with only the final variation movement providing some light and a little musical humour.