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Amazing young blind Pianist enthralls

Concert Report for Ethan Loch

Expectations were high in Cowal Music Club circles about the upcoming concert by Ethan Loch, the 19-year-old BBC Young Musician (keyboard) prizewinner 2022, who indeed played a wonderful, indeed quite enthralling recital in Dunoon’s packed Burgh Hall on 14 May 2023.

He excelled in delivering a recital full of beautiful sounds and colours, especially suited to the piano music of Chopin, Ravel, and Debussy, and his own composition, entitled “Waltz in C#minor, - ‘A Dialogue’”. This ‘Dialogue’ proved fascinating, -even zany, & very effective,- possibly (some remarked) with a nod to Khachachurian. In his introduction, Ethan explained that the composition had been inspired by a dream!

Without doubt a natural talent at the piano, many were amazed at Ethan’s flawless memory, which perhaps has developed especially strongly due to his blindness. And his pianistic technique as well as his ability to communicate very directly (without any need to read music or turn pages) was quite outstanding.

The programme commenced with a delightful rendering of Haydn’s Sonata in Eb major, with marvellous control and exemplary attention to detail, followed by a highly impressive performance of Chopin’s Ballade no 1 in G minor. Indeed Chopin Ballades formed the backbone of the programme, with all four being performed. His attention to moods, dynamics and phrasing was quite remarkable.

In the first half of the programme Ethan also played the celebrated “Jeux d’eau” by the French composer Maurice Ravel, bringing out marvellous impressionistic tone colours, when the piano at times makes sounds quite similar to a harp. Impressionistic, too, were the 2 Debussy Preludes in part 2, with their typically programmatic titles, such as “Feux d’artifice”(Fireworks), all of which Ethan negotiated superbly.

The final piece on the programme, Chopin’s Ballade no 4 in F minor, received such enthusiastic applause that the audience were treated to an encore with one more gem – namely an ‘Improvisation’ by Ethan. This was memorably impressive, and was received with prolonged energetic applause from the large audience.

We should watch the future progress of this brilliantly talented young pianist – already much in demand and clearly on the threshold of a high-profile career as a solo-performer. He has already been booked to play in 2024 as soloist with Manchester Camerata and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, although for now he is still a student at the RCS, studying with Fali Pavri.

Watch this space!

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