‘All we have are memories’

REVIEW by PHILIP JAMES of Tickhill Music Society

Ugnius Pauliukonis

WE welcomed several newcomers to Tickhill Music Society’s piano recital by the Lithuanian, Ugnius Pauliukonis – and what a treat we were all in for!

Performing since being six years young, he filmed this performance as part of working towards his International Artist Diploma.

A lengthy pause before he started the first piece, well-articulated Haydn, heightened expectations. Before continuing with the more romantic repertoire of Chopin, Debussy and Dvarionas, he informed us of his theme for the first half: water. As if we hadn’t seen enough of the wet stuff lately!

The Haydn coda was based on water; Chopin’s Etude is known as “waterfall” (descending chords of the right hand over the river’s arpeggios of the left); Debussy’s Reflections in the Water (ending on both banks at the furthest stretches of the keyboard); the Lithuanian composer’s The First Snowflakes perhaps stretching the point a little but worthy for the sheer virtuosity required.

So were we looking forward to the second half? Well, it was all Chopin – but proved to be delightfully varied. Ugnius introduced us to the dance motif, starting with a Ballade of gentle lilt – though with great dynamics to come.

Ugnius explained that while Mazurkas are Polish folk dances, they are really leaves from Chopin’s past and, as he claimed: “all we have are memories”.

Four Mazurkas followed with a real spring in their step.

Introducing the Etudes, Ugnius kindly explained that no.5 was nicknamed “wrong note” so we were prepared, this time the left hand taking the melody and the right expansive arpeggios, reversing “waterfall”. He invited us to try the octaves in both hands demanded by no.10! We are not all blessed with Rachmaninov’s hands, unlike this remarkable pianist.

Finally the Scherzo, “like a summary of the second half” and an apt conclusion to this exceptional recital as Ugnius gazed towards the heavens, transporting us all to a place where indeed memories are made.

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