STEPHEN BEVILLE - SELECTED PERFORMANCE REVIEWS
'Beville numbers as one of the most talented young musicians to emerge from the UK.'
Frankfurt Neue Press 10/04/2010
'BOX Of DELIGHTS' - Christmas Gala Recital, South Street Baptist Church, Exeter
Stephen Beville provided a spectacular piano recital....Over two hours the audience enjoyed Mozart's Sonata in A major, with its distinctive closing rondo in the style of Turkish zanissary bands, eight intricate nocturnes by Francis Poulenc, Beethoven's stand-alone piano movement "Andante Favouri" and three waltzes and a polonaise by Chopin.
The opening Mozart was controlled and precise, with sudden injections of power creating a world of contrasting moods. The minuet introduced complex trills and the spirit of the vivaceous 28 year old Mozart shone through in Stephen's playing. The final Turkish rondo was feverish, exhilarating, and great fun - like a very well coordinated fireworks display.
With Poulenc's nocturnes Stephen demonstrated a variety of moods and styles from restful and languorous to strident and filled with vigour. Some portrayed specific images - lightly skipping girls at a ball, solomnly tolling bells, an eerie phantom and delicately fluttering moths.Stephen kept the energy and enthusiasm of Poulenc's inventiveness and imagination alive with each successive piece, finally wrapping up the story with the reflective and clarifying coda. An engaging musical journey.
Stephen recreated the musical atmosphere after the break with Beethoven's Andante. Each phrase seemed to build into a dance, full of energy and excitement. This lovely piece was the perfect precursor to Stephen's virtuoso finale - the music of Frédéric Chopin.
The first two of his waltzes were in turn intricate and sparkling, then smooth and melodious. The last was amazingly virtuosic with endless showers of elaborate trills. Stephen performed it perfectly, and was clearly in his element. The polonaise opened in grand style and seemed to involve an endless succession of complex and inventive musical ideas. Stephen conveyed the perfect combination of frenzy and control thoughout. "Box of Delights" was a perfect description!
Stephen Beville creates a dazzling impression every time he plays. His performances are full of thrilling showmanship, delivered with impressive skill....Another rousing recital of piano wonders.
Classical Journey, December 2019.
PILGRIMAGE OPUS 111, Southernhay Church, Exeter
On a balmy spring evening Stephen Beville held an audience at Southernhay Church spellbound for two hours with a simple and brilliant demonstration of pianistic skill. ….Without a word he embarked on Franz Liszt's première 'Année de Pèlerinage' - Suisse (first Year of Pilgrimage - Switzerland). Between them Stephen and Franz Liszt took the listeners on a quite extraordinary pilgrimage through the Swiss countryside….The most exciting of all was 'Orage' (Storm), which was a mighty tempest indeed. The subsequent 'Eclogue' was as peaceful and pastoral as the storm was wild. Even gentler was 'Le Mal du Pays' (Homesickness), evoking Liszt's yearning for his homeland. Finally ' Les cloches de Genève' (The Bells of Geneva) introduced the theme of tolling bells which would feature in the second half of the concert.
While Stephen retired to the vestry once more, the audience members marveled at the spectacular nature of the recital they had just heard and wondered where Stephen would be taking them next. Stephen's technical and emotional control of each delicate melodic phrase in 'Fur Alina' perfectly represented Pärt's longing to see his friend Alina who was travelling abroad. As Stephen explained in his notes, this was the 'alternative side' of Liszt's 'Mal du Pays'.
The 'main course' of Friday's concert was Stephen's reprise of Beethoven's Piano Sonata No 32, Opus 111, which can heard on Stephen's album CD 'In Karlsruhe'. This powerful performance showed off Stephen's versatility and skill to the full. The opening 'Maestoso' was majestic and arresting, full of exciting and thrilling themes. The 'Arietta' is initially gentle and seductive. Stephen's incredible ability to draw out different moods from the piano held the listeners transfixed, waiting to hear where the music would take them next. Almost imperceptibly, Stephen brought more and more life and passion to the original theme, which developed into a lively escapade with playful themes almost like twentieth century jazz. Stephen's performance of the Arietta was twenty minutes of sensational music, calming and invigorating in equal measure. From its opening tranquility to its equally gentle ending Stephen led the audience on one more exciting journey - a journey of pleasure and discovery.
Classical Journey, 07/06/2019
NEW YEAR PIANO RECITAL, Westgate Christian Fellowship - Exeter.
'On Monday 22 January this year Stephen Beville returned to the stage with another fabulous piano recital. This time he concentrated on music inspired by childhood memories....
Stephen opened with Edvard Grieg's "Arietta" & "Berceuse", and Wolfgang Mozart's "Ah, vous dirai-je Maman" - which is more familiar as the theme to "Twinkle, twinkle, little star". Mozart, of course, takes this simple piece in numerous exciting new directions as the the variations become ever more complex and inspired. Stephen performed each variation spectacularly.
Then, in a change to the advertised programme, he played the whole of Robert Schumann's "Kinderszenen" (Scenes from Childhood) - a reference to Schumann's own childhood. Stephen's playful interpretation reflected Schumann's desire to delight and entertain.... The young Robert Schumann, and his siblings, could be imagined rushing from toy to toy, playing games and enjoying stories. Light-hearted, but also very impressive.'
Beethoven's Sonata in E minor, Op 90:
'Stephen followed the instructions to the letter, and reproduced Beethoven's early romantic masterpiece with a wealth of expression and emotion. Beethoven endlessly reasserted his brilliance as a composer, topping each passage with another of equal ingenuity. And Stephen was quite equal to the task of keeping pace with Beethoven's flights of genius.'
Sofia Gubaidulina, Musical Toys (1969):
'Stephen played these demanding and virtuosic pieces with absolute precision and an ebullient sense of fun and mischief, just as Gubaidulina intended. Following Schumann's lead, Gubaidulina conjures up many different and contrasting memories from childhood, with strong overtones of her native Russia. Stephen was able to bring every one of her musical vignettes to life with great imagination, as well as technical skill.
The concert ended gently with two more classical compositions, this time by Frédéric Chopin. His "Berceuse" (Opus 57) was an obvious choice, followed by an equally delightful "Impromptu" in F sharp (Opus 36). A spectacular finish to a spectacular concert.
Many thanks to Stephen Beville for all his work and for sharing his wonderful talent with Exeter audiences.'
Classical Journey, 01/02/2018
'Mirrors and Meditations' - An evening of meditative music
'The concert at the Church of the Sacred Heart, Exeter opened with two extremely moving Nocturnes (Op 27), and a thrilling Ballade (Op 36), by Frédéric Chopin, played by Stephen..... Stephen's concentration was intense. Without music he played all three pieces from memory with a wealth of style and interpretive elegance'.
Classical Journey, 30/05/2017. See full review
Theatre Royal Recital, Wakefield
'.....excellently presented.....playing like that certainly gives the Royal Northern College of Music the fine reputation it so rightly deserves. I look forward to further dealings with this outstanding school.'
Richard Herriott. Laureat of the Nikolai Rubinstein International Piano Competition, 11/07/2001
'Between Intellect and Emotion'
Impressive: the pianist and composer Stephen Beville in the Velte-Saal.
'The young artist began with Beethoven's Sonata in E-flat, Op 7. In the first movement he clearly realised the formal structure, Unpretentious and so well learned as to be self-expressed, he gave the Largo intensive shape. His economic and meaningful use of the pedel in the Allegro movement was good to hear and in the hearty virtuosity of the Rondo finale there was a fine difference in conception.
Outstanding pianism was again evident in his own Three Michelangelo Pieces....They were full of interesting ideas, logical and idiomatic for the instrument, and impressive for the listener.
The question how such a strong intellectual artist would play Schumann was answered in the three movements of the Fantasie, Op 17 that he chose to conclude with. The answer was to be found in a knowing between Intellect and Emotion. From a clear structure, but never with harsh touch, the melody bloomed, the rhythm was precise, and the dynamics were very carefully realised. Stephen Beville's extraordinary, subjective interpretation left a deep impression.'
Badische Neueste Nachrichten - 07/2003.
Klavierkonzert in the Kulturforum.
The Briton needs no dramatic effects or electronic gimmickry to hold his listeners in thrall.
' Famous works from great composers, five of his own compositions and a piano....with this concert recital, he enchanted his audience. They could sit back without distraction and absolutely savor the wonderful details of the music....Beville demonstrated his versatility with a programme of Bach, Beethoven, Chopin and his own compositions.
With a homage to Chopin for the 200th anniversary of his birth, Beville concluded this demanding recital with the Scherzo in E, Op 54 and the Fantasie in F minor, Op 49. Beville underlined his class with the whole programme, that gave opportunities to showcase his artistic and technical skills and great stylistic range.... This recital was nourishment for the heart, soul and ear of the enthusiastic music-lover.'
Wetterauer Zeitung, 21/04/2010
Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 5, Op 73
Stephen Beville - Piano, Baden-Baden Philharmonie/Weinbrenner Saal, Baden-Baden
'A wonderfully fine Beethoven....It was a great pleasure to hear him.'
Badische Neueste Nachrichten, 02/12.2003
'Beville played with heart, projected his part with sound-volume and there were some fine lyrical moments....He played with Virtuosity and Energy.'
Badisches Tagblatt, 02/12/2003
RNCM American Reflections Festival
'Second in this festival of American music at the RNCM was this splendid recital, that allowed rising stars to get to grips with challenging new music. It was a ringing success. There were performances of musical conviction and commitment..... beginning with Stephen Beville in Copland's Variations for Piano (1930) which is Copland in a vein far removed from Simple Gifts.'
Manchester Evening News 30/11/2000
MIRRORS AND MEDITATIONS - An evening of meditative music for violin and piano, Church of the Sacred Heart, Exeter, 26/05/2017
'Jonathan Storer & Stephen Beville - A sensational partnership'
Arvo Part's ' minimalist pieces were the perfect complement to Stephen's composition "Monodrama". "Fratres" involved deliciously lively arpeggios for the Violin, with harmonic top notes evoking a deep sense of tenderness. Interrupted by a deep chord on the piano, the violin enters into a soft and tentative dialogue, incredibly sensitive, and only slowly building in tempo and energy, before the piano introduces a return to the fevered arpeggios - this time with a soft underpinning of piano chords. The interaction between Stephen and Jonathan was amazing to see and hear as they played out another moving drama. A sensational piece.
"Spiegel im Spiegel" (Mirror in a Mirror) tested Jonathan in a different way. For Stephen's many pages of piano score, there was just one page for the violin - showing a series of single notes Each was drawn out almost inexorably, and with ecstatic sweetness, while Stephen maintained a slow, and painstakingly precise accompaniment of piano arpeggios. The most disciplined pieces so far......, this simple but overwhelmingly expressive piece demonstrated both the great skill of both musicians and their perfect coordination and cooperation - after only a few months collaboration.
Beethoven's "Kreutzer" Sonata. Although much more 'classical' in style, Beethoven's masterpiece suited the mood of the evening perfectly. Both performers delighted and astounded their audience all over again with a brilliant tour de force of virtuoso playing. Two fabulous prestos are interspersed by an equally outrageous allegro. Listeners had heard the final presto on Soundart Radio's 'Classical Journey Redux' earlier in the day, which gave some indication of what to expect. In the flesh, the "Kreutzer" was even more exhilarating. The unassuming looking baby grand has a quite magnificent tone (especially in Stephen's hands) and the combined sound of piano and violin carries perfectly in the intimate and inspiring setting of the nave of the Sacred Heart, with its lavish ornamentation and long spiritual history.
Classical Journey, 30/05/2017 - see full review
HORN AND PIANO RECITAL , LONDON NEW WIND FESTIVAL
' I thought, and so did a few others, your horn and piano recital was absolutely stunning! You are a very fine pianist and I really like the clarity of your playing which lifted the Spindle, Burrell....well the lot really. Well done.'
Catherine Pluygers, director of the London New Wind Festival, 10/11/2008
FLUTE AND PIANO RECITAL, KINGS COLLEGE LONDON
'I would also like to thank Stephen for an excellent recital. He is a really good pianist and the audience were very appreciative.....The Donatoni came off brilliantly.'
Robert Keeley, Senior lecturer in compositon, Kings College, 14/12/2010