The breadth and depth of feeling in Beethoven’s final set of Bagatelles, Op 126, belie a title that suggests they are mere trifles, and Peter Rhodes proved the point.
These pieces seem to reflect a sense of liberation in the composer’s final, deaf years, and the head of music at South Downs College was both profound and skittish in capturing the contrasts.
Most striking was the final piece where fleeting presto passages frame a longer andante - and elsewhere, too, he somehow made Beethoven’s unexpected twists sound both stark and natural at the same time. Both here and in Mozart’s Sonata in C minor, K457, the pianist ‘voiced’ the different parts with skill and discretion despite the limitations of the piano at his disposal.
Mozart’s adagio, in particular, sounded positively operatic in his hands – just as it ideally should.
A personal matter forced me to miss the second half of the programme but I heard enough to know Peter Rhodes will be welcome back any time.