VIDEO: Chatteris performance reviewed of a child prodigy who is set to become a piano playing YouTube sensation

AN impromptu concert on a Cambridge street on top of a startling solo performance in Chatteris has put an 11 year-old pianist in front of a global audience.

George Harliono from Saffron Walden drew gasps of delight from onlookers during performances in the Grand Arcade and around the city centre.

His renditions of Lizt and Beethoven were spellbinding and now tens of thousands are hooked on the young man’s talent as world wide audiences watch him on YouTube.

But on September 1, and in Chatteris Parish Church, our critic Rosemary Westwell watched the young child prodigy.

And, like others present that night, there was the realisation of watching the beginning of an awesome career.

Here’s Rosemary’s review.

CHATTERIS Music Society, spearheaded by Katherine Childs, struck a winner when they asked 11-year-old George Harliono to give a piano recital in the church today. The audience knew it would be a grand occasion as the church was packed with enthusiasts.

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One would expect a young lad of that age who started playing the piano at the age of 7 to play ‘nicely’ but not necessarily in the mature manner someone of twice his age would. However, this young performer was no ordinary player. He presented a full challenging programme that demonstrated a highly effective technique and there were many moments of mature musical awareness that is normally only associated with the best of performers.

His opening item, Piano Sonata No 14 in c sharp minor (The Moonlight Sonata) by Beethoven, flowed beautifully in the first movement (Adagio Sostenuto), with many of the underlying melodic fragments clearly delineated. He brought out the skittishness of Beethoven in the second movement (Allegretto) while his playing of the third movement (Presto Agitato) was at a magnificently energetic speed with much of Beethoven’s angst very much apparent.

By way of contrast, George then showed an impressive ability for cohesion in Estampes by Debussy: In the first movement, Pagodes, he shaped the phrases beautifully creating unmistakable images of grand Japanese pagodas. In the second movement, La soir�e dans Grenade, a constant reference to Spanish rhythm and melodic flavour combined with his varied touch contrasted combined well with the typical flowing delicacy of Debussy and prominent resounding thematic material, while in the third, Jardin sous la pluie, the atmosphere was again created wonderfully as his technique made the music flow exquisitely, creating fluid, watery textures.

His brother, Joshua Harliono (violin) then gave a delightful performance on the violin of the first of Four Romantic Pieces by Dvorak (Allegro Moderato)

After interval of tea and cakes, George played one of his favourite pieces, Rachmaninov’s Prelude no.12 in c sharp minor (op. 3 no2). There was no doubt that George has a phenomenal technique and this piece demonstrated this particularly well.

A mature approach and some particularly effective soft episodes in Schubert’s Four Impromptus D899 (Op. 90) ended the concert magnificently. The first Impromptu in C minor (Allegro Molto Moderato) showed tremendous contrasting dynamic levels and in the second, E flat (Allegro) this amazingly talented pianist presented some astounding runs in the right hand. The third in G flat (Andante) brought out the mature musicianship of this young performer. The expression he created in the opening was spellbinding.

In the final, fourth impromptu, in A flat (Allegretto) he managed some deliciously soft ripples in the right hand. He brought out the poignancy of contrasting episodes and swelling dynamics particularly well.

With an immediate stage presence, George confidently introduced the pieces, moved assuredly to sit at the grand piano and gave a recital of mammoth proportions for a performer of this age. It was perfectly understandable that he was given a standing ovation and there were people queuing for his autograph at the end. The demand for an encore was easily met and George gave a splendid performance of Glinka’s ‘The Lark’ to make this one of the most amazing performances I have seen recently.

Events next year include European Philharmonic Chamber Orchestra (Youth Orchestra), Kings College Choral Scholars, Los Guitanos, and Hertfordshire Chamber Orchestra (featuring a piano concerto).

For more information contact: 01354 693279