It was very appropriate that Mark started the concert with three pieces by John Ireland [the concert having been jointly supported by The Ireland Trust and the C & M Pike Trust].
Immediately all parochialism was swept away as we were painted a rich musical picture of London life from the Thames to Soho.
Chopin's Sonata No 3 was the next programme item; for me a less well known work. For those, like me, who doubt whether they can maintain a dry eye during Chopin, this was a welcome relief. There was a diversity of themes and styles and the unmistakable harmonies of Chopin that enthralled, together with exuberance and panache of a scintillating performance by Mark Bebbington. Combined with the Steinway and the acoustic of the Jubilee Hall at Stover School, this proved to be an overwhelming experience for some!
Five Preludes by Debussy took us from Submerged Cathedrals, West Winds, An Interrupted Serenade, an Eccentric, and to a Firework Display. The impressionist style swept us from serene majesty to grandeur and the power of the natural world; brought us face to face with human predicaments, and burst the dazzling sparkle of fireworks through periods of calm.
Liszt's transcription of Wagner's Tristan and Isolde grabbed the emotions and senses, and, if we had any time for conscious thought at all, it was to wonder how a single pianist and piano became, effectively, an orchestra.
The programme finale was List's transcription of Verdi's Rigoletto, and at this point we were left gasping and marvelling at the sheer virtuosity and audacity of both composer and performer.
Following enthusiastic applause, Mark gave a wonderful encore of the Spanish Dance 5 by Granados.