PLG Young Artists (2)

The second evening of the Park Lane Group's five-part new year concert series had none of the programming confusions of the first. Yet the event is confusing enough anyway, with a stream of young talent passing through a stage so adorned with greenery that it looks like a cheap hotel lobby. The repertoire, too, can be bewildering, with impassable stylistic gulfs bridged as if all recent music matches simply because it is recent. Still, there are occasions when artist and programme really gel. One was Clare Hammond's recital, which married Giles Swayne's 2008 Three Bagatelles for solo piano with two of Julian Anderson's Piano Etudes, and also featured a little-known study by Stephen Oliver.

Hammond, who studies at the Guildhall, played from memory with crisp precision and unflashy intelligence. The second of the Swayne pieces requires the softest, most even touch for its delicately balanced tonality to stabilise, just as the brittle humour of the third could easily snap under less clever fingers. Similarly, Anderson's studies require minute command, not just over each note's attack, but also of each release. Most impressive, though, was her natural sense of pacing, allowing the hollowed-out climax of Pour les Arpèges Composées to gather like a wisp of smoke in sunlight before dissipating in a passing breeze.

The second concert was less memorable. The Wu String Quartet, despite the very evident talents of the cellist and first violinist, never quite reached communion in works by Nicholas Maw and David Matthews, although they made a good case for Morgan Hayes's witty Dances on a Ground.

Similarly, the pairing of John McMunn's tenor and Christina Lawrie's piano was rather monochrome, although we were treated to the UK premiere of Huw Watkins's exquisite setting of three Auden poems.

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