Cockermouth Music Society’s October concert featured a quite remarkable pianist who stunned the audience with his manual brilliance, explosive energy and commitment. John Paul Ekins spoke well about each piece of music starting with Haydn’s Andante and Variations in F minor, followed by Mozart’s Sonata in C minor. They immediately showed his complete command of the keyboard, manual dexterity combined with instinctive understanding of the music. A tour de force followed in the shape of music by Liszt, Harmonies du Soir and Cantique d’Amour. Here, Ekins demonstrated his control of intensely difficult music, giving it all the power, exact timing and expressive colour it requires to make it a brilliantly exciting experience, using the piano’s properties to the full.
The second half was devoted to Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition, every section of which was given such individual expression that we could easily imagine the picture being described musically.
This was a remarkable performance by any standards and the audience clearly appreciated it. The encore (Chopin) seemed at first almost unnecessary but, in the event, gave us a wonderful moment of calm after the previous excitement, thus working beautifully as the finale to a memorable evening.