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R e v i e w s

Solo Recital, Buxton United Reformed Church, 07/07/19

Review by Roger Horvath

Eden Walker gave a magnificent concert to an appreciative and sometimes spellbound audience. Eden Walker is presently on a post graduate course at the Royal Danish Academy of Music in Copenhagen. He played a variety of pieces and showed immense technical and artistic skill. The audience was given a very detailed programme describing the pieces on the programme and also a biographical note about the pianist.

Eden has an affinity with early 20th century pieces and it is fitting that he began with Busoni’s Sonatina ad usum Infantis Madeline(1915). Although a towering figure his music is not played frequently. I think amateur pianists may be inspired to buy this piece as they do not seem too difficult. Mozart’s C minor Sonata followed which is extremely well known and it has tragical outer movements with a gentle cantabile middle movement. The Scriabin Sonata No 9 (Black Mass 1913) and Bach’s Prelude and Fugue in E flat / D sharp minor from Book 2 both seemed to me to be mystical in their own contrasting ways and in my imagination the stained-glass window of the church immediately behind the piano responded to the pieces.

The next piece was by the Lithuanian composer and painter Mikalojus Konstantinas Ciurlionis who was not known to me before this concert. His years were from 1875 to 1911 and I felt the 4 preludes showed a distinct personality although there was some possible influence by Chopin and Scriabin. The third one played called Prelude in C (1908) was perhaps my favourite which depicted the sea. It is interesting that Debussy completed his La Mer in 1905 and Frank Bridge composed his Seascape in 1910-1911.

The final piece [Schubert Wanderer Fantasy] brought the house down a favourite with virtuosos also played a few years ago at the fringe by Jonathan Ellis. The work is difficult to play. Schubert was unable to play it successfully.

Eden is a wonderful pianist with a pleasant, friendly and modest disposition. I felt thrilled with the new works which he has introduced to me. He is capable of playing rapid passages with accuracy and flair and has a wonderful cantabile touch as in the Busoni and Mozart. He shows imagination as in the Scriabin and can create excitement as in the Schubert.

Amongst my happiest moments was when he played the Bach’s fugue creating a serene atmosphere detached from all earthly misery.

Rachmaninoff Cello Sonata, Betty Nansen Teatret, 03/04/19

(Cello: Iiris Tötterström)

Review by Onsdagkoncert

Translated from Danish

The second and final point of the program was the very large-scale Cello sonata in g minor. 19 by Sergei Rachmaninoff. Rachmaninoff is a charming mix of romantic, late-romantic and modern styles. He is completely his own. Contemporary composers considered him old-fashioned (as Bach's contemporaries also considered him!), But he has subsequently gained great popularity. Not least his piano concerts are highly loved. Rachmaninoff was an excellent pianist (with very large hands!) And it shines through in the way that it is a cello sonata, but the piano is completely aligned with the cello. In fact, it is almost consistent that the piano voice that introduces the themes that cello then takes over and develops. We also got an interpretation at an incredibly high level here. Finnish Iiris Tötterström has a very large and beautiful tone on her cello, and English Eden Walker was absolutely convincing on the piano voice.
A big Wednesday concert was over and we went home, a much bigger experience richer.

Solo Recital, Buxton Methodist Church, 06/07/18

Review by Brian K W Lightowler

Eden Walker is a pianist with immense dedication to the study of the piano, at the age of 22 so far pursuing a distinguished musical education, receiving pearls of wisdom from numerous piano luminaries of the time. His autobiography mentions growing up in the ‘rural backlands of South Derbyshire’ and forsaking peasantry for the dizzy heights of the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, a course which included a semester studying in Leipzig. I expect the celebrities at whose masterclasses Eden has performed would be able to dredge one or two flaws in fluency in the really awkward parts of tonight’s ambitious programme - but the luminaries would have to say something to justify their self serving superior status. However tonight’s performance left the small but appreciative Buxton audience in little doubt that Eden is operating at a very high standard on the instrument.

A man of few words, actually no words, we were provided with an excellent, well presented booklet outlining the background to tonight’s programme containing detailed information of the pieces and contextural information about the composers. With such a comprehensive document to hand, one may be expected conclude there was actually no need for Eden engage in any oral dialogue with the audience. Neither did we get an opportunity to have a glimpse of the maestro or shake his hand in admiration after the concert. Perhaps unintentioned, aloofness could be a sign of aspiring greatness in an artiste en route to the stratosphere of the profession, where communication with the audience is managed by someone else. He apparently enjoys studying the German and Russian languages. Eden’s comfort zone, apart from the evident truly virtuosic music making, would seem to rest in the written word. Indeed Eden himself promotes his professional programme note writing expertise on his website, sections of which are printed in tonight’s programme.

Tonight’s recital on the Methodists’ Church’s Yamaha was a wide ranging selection of classical and romantic piano music, nicely balanced and far from easy to play, demonstrating that Eden’s does not shirk challenging repertoire. The resulting concert was approaching brilliance.

Starting perhaps tentatively he quickly got a grip on one of Beethoven’s later sonatas, Opus 110 in A flat. The piece comprises a variety of stylistic contrasts maybe reflecting the composer’s erratic temperament in his later years, from light singing passages with quotes from folk songs of the day to stern and melancholy sections winding up with the famous fugue theme. Eden’s interpretation of the sonata had all the ingredients of a convincing rendition.

Chopin’s Scherzo in C# minor. Opus 39 is a piece representing a microcosm of Eden’s whole programme with a bit of everything. Following this with three of the Opus 25 Etudes completes the exercise. Studies, implied in the name, intentionally comprise material to exercise the most tricky technical snags in the pianist’s tool box. The Op25, no 6 is full of fiendish runs the execution of which should appeal to the most obsessive and No 11 sometimes called ‘Winter wind’ features a series of complex cascades with barely time to draw breath. A few composers’ study books are also so melodic that the works have adopted a free-standing life as virtuosic concert pieces and Chopin’s work is the gold standard in the field. Eden’s brilliant execution of these swinish pieces makes it sound effortless. His smooth execution doubtless belies many hours of intense practice and a generous dose of inspiration; or is it a streak of stubborn obsessiveness?

Scriabin’s 24 preludes, Opus 11, are each all fairly short and present as a collection of improvised interludes that could be heard in a cocktail bar of the day. It maybe that some of the ideas started out in that way, akin to some notable organists in the early days of radio broadcasting having to respond on the hoof to alarming demands of programme discontinuity and coming up with improvised fillers in a live broadcast, which turned out later to have musical life of their own. In Scriabin’s prelude collection there are many echoes of well known tunes, if not nearly direct quotes, such as the ‘funeral march’ in no 16. Luckily copyright was less stringent and US lawyers poorly organised in 1890! Eden’s programme notes provide a great aid navigating the audience through the 24 preludes. Scriabin’s gems are all very listenable and Eden’s formidable technique makes the trickiest pieces flow effortlessly. Scriabin sets a tough task to execute his prestos without falling into a chaotic jumble of notes and Eden is clearly up to the mark.

Eden’s last piece, the Liszt ‘Reminiscences de Norma’, S 394, has everything to showcase the technical skills of the piano virtuoso: intricate runs, expansive passages, jubilant march themes, delicate to melancholic sections and complex dramatic parts. Most of the tunes are based on the ideas in Vincenzo Bellini’s opera ‘Norma’ and to say that Liszt has created a piano arrangement of the score seriously underestimates the magnitude of this piece. Eden kicks straight for goal with a breath-taking tour de force.

Exiting the hall on a high seemed to be the strategy with no trivial cameo encores or small talk to prove ‘I’m not a robot’. In the remaining time, a quick burst of the minute waltz or a tasty Debussy romance would have endeared his appreciative audience; in the event, to rapturous adulation, Eden symbolically disappeared down the steps retreating to his place on the artistic high ground?

Tonight’s performance of these most challenging works nails Eden Walker’s pianistic skills to the mast of a superb technician.

Solo Recital, Birmingham & Midland Institute, 01/06/17

Review by John Humphreys

A superb recital from Eden Walker (B.Mus 4 recital) at the Birmingham Midland Institute yesterday. He brought courage, vitality and trenchant technique to Reger, Bridge (Sonata) and Prokofiev Toccata. The Bridge Sonata conveys little (in my view) of the 'pleasure' factor - a tough, uncompromising piece and a mighty challenge which Eden traversed with the fearlessness of youth. Bravo!

Collaborative recital with Deirdre McCabe (Soprano), St. Alphege's Church, Solihull, 03/06/15

Review by St. Alphege's Music Society

A simply stunning soprano and piano recital yesterday given by Deirdre McCabe and Eden Walker. Deirdre showed great and stylish control whilst so sensitively accompanied by Eden Walker. And a simply stunning piano solo in the second half, also by Schumann, all from memory. It was astonishing the sonority of tone that Eden achieved on our upright piano. Let's hope for a return fixture!

Collaborative recital with Timothy Emberson (Bass), St. Alphege's Church, Solihull, 14/06/14

Review by St. Alphege's Music Society

A very big thank you to Timothy Emberson and Eden Walker for a really enjoyable performance at today's lunchtime recital - the programme was a selection of Schubert songs, with 'An die Musik' a very appropriate choice of closing piece, all ably performed by these two accomplished musicians. Thank you to all who attended, there were many very positive comments afterwards - we are glad you enjoyed it.

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