Pete Rhodes at the Spring Arts Centre, Havant

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Happily, Peter Rhodes is not one of those pianists who pose theatrically at the keyboard. He simply sits and plays with precision and style, and even displays a touch of downbeat humour.

‘That must be the strangest piece Beethoven ever wrote’ was the comment after a characteristically all-embracing performance of the Opus 54 sonata.

But the same composer’s late, great Opus 109 sonata was even more effectively delivered by South Downs College’s head of performing arts.

The programme notes referred to the problem for the composer of ‘fusing the disparate elements’ but this was achieved in performance with apparent ease, the variations in the finale having both individual character and unity.

In Liszt’s set of six Consolations, the well-known third lived up supremely well to the overall title, performed with the subtlest of shading – and Schumann’s Arabeske had similar qualities. It was poised, elegant and moving throughout.

The programme was completed by the teenage Shostakovich’s Three Fantastic Dances, with the final polka a throwaway delight, and Bartok’s Romanian Dances, ending in a fast and furious romp.

For all Mr Rhodes’s diffident manner, he knows how to let his hair down.

MIKE ALLEN