A great recital isn’t just about the performance, it’s also about designing a well crafted programme, and this inventive offering by pianist Joanna MacGregor was full of individuality, perfectly pitched to how off her many strengths.
Introducing each set of works from the stage (adding to her own insightful programme notes), she opened with five preludes and fugues by Bach and Shostakovich, cleverly interwoven to illustrate their contrasts and, at times, great similarities.
MacGregor brought out the simple beauty of Bach’s first Prelude in C major, and ultimately the complex chromatic virtuosity of Shostakovich’s 15th fugue.
In the selection of Chopin Mazurkas that followed, she highlighted the individual character of each one; particularly notable was the exquisite tenderness and poise she brought to the A minor Op 17
A sequence of American pieces ranging from gospel to New Orleans jazz included Deep River with its thunderous tremolo writing in both hands, while Monk’s Point by Thelonious Monk showed to perfection MacGregor’s effortless skill as a jazz pianist.
Finally, six tangos from Astor Piazolla, arranged by MacGregor herself were a pianistic workout.
Precision and passion were features of this set, from the weighty Tanguedia, complete with extravagant glissandi, to the sultry Buenos Aires Hora Cero and mesmerising Libertango which brought the house down.
We were reminded that Sutton Coldfield Town Hall remains under threat of closure – recitals of this calibre should help secure its future.