Review: Royal Northern College of Music Lunchtime Recital

  • Classical concert was worth leaving my comfort zone for, mostly…


I’m not a great lover of classical music but I stepped out of my comfort zone this week to head over to the Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM) for one of their lunchtime recitals.

The programme was a selection of four Rachmaninov piano pieces from Moments Musicaux performed by Matthew Lam followed by Beethoven’s Clarinet Trio in B flat major.

The Carole Nash Recital Room was packed as Mathew Lam began the show. The first piece he played was slow and methodical with progressive chords, a beautiful rendition that calmed and hushed those fidgeting in the audience.

I tried to visualise the sort of movie it would fit; sombre yet cheerful, soothing and beautiful: the perfect accompaniment to Albert Lamorisse’s The Red Balloon, the music told a story, a universal one of an eventful life, a life like the red balloon’s.

Lam is an expert pianist and a great showman. The long pauses in between his performances helped him control the expectations of his audience expertly, leaping from fast and hectic to gripping and compelling: think horror films, car chases, tense thrillers – then sudden shifts in pace to sweet enticing renditions more suitable to a romantic comedy.

The drama of the actual recital was tangible, with many anticipating what Lam would deliver next with bated breath.

However, despite melodic and upbeat interludes, I found myself succumbing to boredom. While Lam is undoubtedly a great player I found his music predictable and samey and too much like the classical music I have spent my life ignoring. It doesn’t engage or excite me enough to take an interest in that genre.

In contrast, the Beethoven Clarinet Trio was very pleasant with a cheery vibe, a lot more melodies and a familiar feel.

The trio of German Martinez Merino on clarinet, Javier Escrihuela Gandia on cello and Louis Perera on piano worked really well together, their instruments weaving in out of each other in perfect harmony and sometimes even developing call and response type riffs.

Despite the touch of boredom during Matthew Lam’s recital, the lunchtime concert was very enjoyable. It was fascinating to witness the expert level of musicianship on display, sometimes bordering on awe inspiring.

I’m a little surprised, but this is something that I would most definitely go to again. So much for getting out of your comfort zone.

Have a listen of the evening below: