SOLOMON, Tranchell, The Cambridge Review, 10th May 1952

Last Sunday, in the Guildhall, we heard Solomon at the piano. He gave us two out of the Forty-Eight. In the C minor Fugue of Book II it was refreshing to hear the entries coming out! Discretion, but not pedagogic insistence. An interesting programme note told of a hitherto unknown episode in Bach’s life—his appointment in 1701 as organist at Darmstadt. But in the subsequent list of his posts, that of organist (from 1703) at Arnstadt was omitted.

Mozart’s Sonata in D major (K.576) gave opportunity for beautiful limpid tone, especially in the adagio. Solomon took it. Brahms’s Op. 5 Sonata in F minor followed. This odd work came out rather like a Victorian penny that has been left on a railway line and run over. Flat, blurred, but glorious.

The final group of Debussy and Ravel was exquisite. The sustaining pedal was maintained from start to finish. This had superb effect in “La Cathedrale Engloutie.” One wondered in Ravel’s “Une Barque sur L’Océan.” But then, clarity is scarcely a quality authentic to Impressionism.

Four gay encores wound up the proceedings. Chopin’s Nocturne in F sharp major, and Waltz in E minor, Brahms’s Intermezzo in C major (from Op. 119) and a Scarlatti Sonata in F. An extra scale here and there added lustre to an already surcharged chandelier of brilliance. An excellent evening’s listening.

Peter Tranchell