Pianist Martin Roscoe returns to Clitheroe for diamond jubilee season

Pianist Martin Roscoe in rehearsal before his performance for Clitheroe Concerts Society.'Photo: Ken Geddes.
Pianist Martin Roscoe in rehearsal before his performance for Clitheroe Concerts Society.'Photo: Ken Geddes.

CLITHEROE Concerts Society’s Diamond Jubilee season culminated with celebrated pianist Martin Roscoe playing four Beethoven sonatas.

This much-anticipated and sold-out concert was 60 years after the society’s first concert on March 11th 1952.

Martin has now played for the society seven times – the first time in 1976 – and over the years has given the society much advice and guidance. He is marking his own 60th birthday on June 20th with a concert at the Wigmore Hall, London, his programme designed to show different aspects of Beethoven’s music through his piano sonatas. It was a wonderful gesture that he decided to play the same programme for the Clitheroe society’s own Diamond Jubilee.

It started with the Pathétique sonata, written when Beethoven was 27. Martin explained that the title has changed its meaning over the years, having originally the idea of “emotional”. The first movement fuses three contrasting themes, at times very technical to play, using crossed hands and grace notes, but navigated effortlessly by Martin.

The second piece, Sonata No 31, Opus 110 provided well-judged balance; its opening marked “amiably” leading on to a singing cantabile theme. The second movement, marked “very fast”, has complex rhythms and sound contrasts, the trio featuring leaps and descents. This movement ends quietly. The third movement alternates slow and faster sections picking up the previous movement’s ideas to unify the music in a sorrowful lament. The sonata however ends ecstatically happy!

During the interval there was a brisk sale of Martin’s Beethoven Sonata CDs. He has been recording the complete 32 piano sonatas on Deux-Elles for five years and the third disk is about to be released. The critical response has been exceptionally positive.

The second half of the concert began with Sonata 10, Opus 14/2. This is a charming and less demanding piece to listen to, but is the work of a master, being written around the time of the Pathétique and Moonlight Sonatas.

The Appassionata Sonata was finally played, judged one of his greatest works and considered by Beethoven himself to be one of his most tempestuous. Martin commented that it was written at a time when Beethoven was becoming profoundly deaf and the piano was rapidly developing. It was the genius of the man that he was able to imagine the sound of an instrument he had never heard.

The sonata’s final movement has a near perpetual motion effect with several climaxes before a faster coda in which only Beethoven could bring in a completely new theme! The sonata and the concert ends with a final extended cadenza, music to demonstrate the performer’s virtuosity.

As the last notes died away there was a moment of silence before the audience exploded in a storm of clapping, stamping and cheering. Martin came back time after time and humorously said that, after all that, everybody including himself needed something to calm them down, so he would play a Beethoven Bagatelle! Martin generously stayed behind to talk to the audience individually, meet old friends and answer questions.

The society’s next function is a concert at The Grand on May 18th. The brilliant young pianist Anthony Hewitt, who is cycling from Land’s End to John O’Groats to raise money for UK children’s charities, is playing a concert every night. For details and tickets, priced at £10, see the society’s website (www.clitheroeconcerts.org.uk) or call in at The Grand in York Street, Clitheroe.

KEN GEDDES