At Highgate School, the South-African born pianist Tessa Uys gave an impressive Sunday-afternoon recital. She was playing the Festival’s truly grand Fazioli instrument, and it was marvellous in itself to hear Scarlatti sonatas (K380 in E, the most famous one, and the fleeting K159 in C) translated into such opulent, vibrant, decisive tones. Uys was deeply affecting in Schubert’s Drei Klavierstücke, D946, which Brahms edited many years after the composer’s death; and her handling of three Rachmaninov preludes was sturdy. The early Variations by John McCabe was the novelty, its felicitous virtuosity well conveyed and Liszt’s notey, pummelling légende, St François de Paule marchant sur les flots, brought the programme to a rousing close.
PAUL DRIVER: SUNDAY TIMES CULTURE MAGAZINE
Tessa Uys’ recital on Sunday in the Great Hall at Highgate School, opened with Scarlatti’s Sonatas H380 and K159 and she played them with panache and authority eliciting a tonal range from her Fazioli piano that makes redundant any purist view that such sonatas be played on a harpsichord. Uys is a musician who can function in any era and her playing of Haydn’s Sonata in B minor Hob HVI/32 lacked nothing by way of refinement or sense of time and classical austerity. Nor has she fears of popular repertoire, even when the demands are formidable as in Schubert’s Drei Klavierstücke D946, of which the first two were quite exquisite. Contemporary music may hold some listeners in awe, but Uys has the skills to make such works as John McCabe’s Variations for Piano Op.22 not only truly accessible but also an example of her prodigious technique. It was fitting that the recital should end on a robust note and Liszt furnished the ideal piece in his St François de Paule marchant sur les flots, a legend given a breathtaking performance.
DAVID SONIN: HAM AND HIGH