Adam Heron Lunchtime Concert:

Hosted at the temple Methodist church in the picturesque Budleigh Salterton, this comes as the penultimate concert in the lunchtime series. This concert featured the Pianist Adam Heron who is currently in his first year at the Royal Academy of Music, under the guidance of Christopher Elton.

Adam, originally from Hong Kong, was awarded a scholarship to join Gloucester Cathedral Choir at the age of seven and later studied piano at Wells Cathedral School 2012-2017. Adam has enjoyed numerous successes at both nation and international piano competitions. He was unanimously awarded first prize at the Junior Intercollegiate Beethoven Competition, held in London, both Gloucester and Taunton Young Musician of 2018, and more recently becoming the finalist in the Keyboard Section for BBC Young Musician of the Year Competition.

With the luxury of the concert being free attendance with a retiring collection, the hall is packed with an audience, some of which had to be placed on stage with additional seating, all of whom are ready for an enjoyable concert. Modern facilities enable the people at the back of the church to be able to see the concert projected onto screens around the building so they all have a clear sight of the performers. Maybe an added pressure on the performer?

Adam’s recital today consisted of two of the pieces he played in the BBC Young Musician Competition and also a challenging sonata by Scriabin. Bach, Chopin and Scriabin are three greats when it comes to keyboard music and all three have a different musical style and voice, if Adam is able to capture the essence of the composers’ intentions today in this recital it gives him true merit as a musician.

Starting the concert today was Bach’s “English Suite No.3 in G Minor” BWV 808. These suites come from some of Bach’s earliest works. Rather than being composed in the style of the English baroque piano the suite has more affinity with the French style, with the title “English” having more to do with who the pieces were composed for. In a concert of this programming the audience will be looking for clarity, precision and accuracy from this suite of music as the other two items show more of the musicality of the performer.

With no wait for the audience to settle Adam is straight into the first movement, a prelude. The intensity of the fugue from the first note is present with all voices speaking at the correct temperament giving a true balance of colour. The ornaments bring the baroque features of this piece to the forefront, however, whilst all may have been clear it would have been nice to see some variety. Moving to the Sarabande, the emotion is captured from the opening and all chords are weighted perfectly giving a true resonance which the piano can present. Here Adam chooses to use the sustain pedal for the first time in this suite, whilst this may not be historically accurate it brings a darker colour to the music which was intended by Bach. The pedal isn’t used excessively and has been carefully selected for the right moments. The ending 4-3 suspension is given a lot of time to breathe with the ornamentation into the resolution timed perfectly. The mood of the piece is immediately changed heading to the end with a lively Gique. This final movement really shows the formidable technique Adam has to offer.

Chopin’s musical expression is very distant to that of Bach’s with more moments of rubato, leaving the musician able to put more of his own stamp on the piece, however, a true understanding of Chopin’s intentions is crucial for this piece to work. From the opening note it is clear that Adam understands Chopin with every note tempered perfectly and the overtones of the piano being able to sing properly through every chord. Delicate flourishes are handled well adding so much to this intense music. Throughout you feel the audience holding their breath whilst Adam builds suspense in the music but never letting it stop. True emotion is seen, and Adam is able to take the audience with him on the journey through the music with sudden changes in character being established instantaneously. Chopin’s quirks in this piece are all present and never neglected from the pianist, all of which are negotiated with care and thought. Every time I go to write, something magical about the performance makes me stop and look straight back up.

Scriabin’s Sonata No.2 or Sonata Fantasy, took 5 years in total to write and was finally published in 1898. This piece is written in a style very similar to Chopin with impressionistic touches. With Adam being able to understand the light touches of Chopin this piece should be second nature. The opening movement very much like Chopin is weighted correctly with large chords negotiated well to give grounding to the melody. Moments of tentative music give Adam a chance to breathe through the music. Moments of impressionism are brought to the forefront giving the piece a different colour from just the romanticism. Rubato, very much like the Chopin, is treated well with not too much over use. Every moment of emotion is felt by the audience and the piano sings through perfectly to the end of this movement. The second movement turns into a frenzy of notes with the melody fighting for supremacy. This is the first time we see any slight falter from Adam, with a slight heavier weighting in the bass blurring out the fast virtuosic scalic passages. However, a real credit to serious levels of technique and virtuosic playing.

The concert was so well received the audience were asking for more to which Adam didn’t disappoint. For his encore he chose to play one of Chopin’s Nocturn, confirming his love for the composer and his works. The piece was crafted with so much character by Adam conveying a true love of this composer. The opening is light and well measured with moments of darkness moving into the middle section of the piece. It feels like Adam creates a sense of knocking of fate ere giving space and time for suspense. There is an ominous ring from the piano as the overtones ring together to the final note.

This concert demonstrated that Adam, is true testament to what young musicians have to offer. Not only was Adam’s playing masterful but also inspirational to any of the young people of the audience. It is clear to see that Adam will have a thriving career and will do the world of classical music incredible justice.