Review of Horsham Music Circle's 82nd Anniversary concert given by Warren Mailley-Smith

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Under the magic of the aurora borealis, Warren Mailley-Smith delivered a concert just as special, therefore concluding the Horsham Music Circle’s 82nd season. A programme of piano cornerstones: Mailley-Smith managed to demonstrate an elevated level of technical competence and diligence in character; a real treat for all to enjoy.

Opening with Beethoven’s fiery ‘Appassionata Sonata,’ the audience were subject to an outburst of emotional contortion – each trill sounding from the piano became prelude to the ever-growing unrest found within the flowing semi-quavers Mailley-Smith so wonderfully played. Among all this, lying dormant throughout the piece, Mailley-Smith managed to tease out the more reflective and melancholic characters which, later in the second movement, are so prominently put on display. Rachmaninov’s ever-popular ‘Prelude in G major’ was to follow: Mailley-Smith employed a great deal of rubato and exaggerated dynamic contrast, enhancing the untamed and exuberant passion contained within the piece.

Though maybe not as well-known as the others in this programme, Ireland’s ‘Amberley Wild Brooks’ was a piece to remember. Mailley-Smith’s delicate finger-work treated us to graceful, meandering passages evocative of gently flowing water, a comfort of which was only enhanced by the local Sussex connection.

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Liszt’s arrangement of a Schubert lied ‘Übern Garten Durch die Lüfte’ was the first piece after the interval to be played. In a typically Liszt fashion, the original song became a glimmering and spontaneous kaleidoscope of emotion, amplifying the nostalgic and fleeting feelings of past love. Mailley-Smith gave a very enjoyable and suitably virtuosic rendition of the piece, making the many notes of Liszt seem effortless.

Warren Mailley-Smith in recital for Horsham Music CircleWarren Mailley-Smith in recital for Horsham Music Circle
Warren Mailley-Smith in recital for Horsham Music Circle

Consistently throughout the concert, Mailley-Smith dutifully communicated a deep sense of storytelling, not just in his playing, but in his informative and well-valued introductions too. Each statement contributed to a better understanding of the music by the audience, allowing us to further indulge in this rich portfolio of masterworks. This was no better demonstrated than in Mailley-Smith’s last set of pieces by Chopin – which one could perhaps argue to be his muse. Chopin’s ‘Berceusein Db,’ ‘Ballade No.1,’ ‘Polonaise in A major,’ ‘Scherzo No.2,’ and ‘Waltz in e minor’ (as an encore) were all played with flare and great aptitude, highlighting the pieces’ sometimes-improvisatory nature alongside their numerous and juxtaposing characters in a colourful jubilation.

Reviewed by Luca J Imperiale