PIANO ARTISTRY SWEEPS A FIELD OF EMOTIONS - The Coast Reporter April 8, 2005

The eagerly anticipated classical music recital by the universally acclaimed French pianist Pascal Rogé took place Sunday, April 3, at the Raven's Cry Theatre in Sechelt.

From the early notes of the Gabriel Fauré 1st Barcarolle flowing cantabile through to the pulsating fireworks of Debussy's 12th Prelude - Book II, our guest held his capacity audience entranced by his flawless technique, imaginative playing and incandescent expression.

Mostly not designed for technical display, the material he offered was an intensely contained program of Fauré, Ravel, Satie, Poulenc and Claude Debussy. All afternoon his sober attentive face held only one expression - and his compelling playing opened up a galaxy of them with a beauty of tone rarely heard today.

The classic beauty which pervades Gabriel Fauré's greatest works is derived from simplicity, restraint and sensibility as echoed in Rogé's rendition of two tuneful Barcarolles and two Impromptus, working in quiet colours, their principal objective the projection of this pure beauty.

Pascal gave a memorable performance of Maurice Ravel's too brief Sonatine. He effectively brought out the expressive nature of the first movement Modéré, the charm of the impish Menuet as well as the whirling coulours and sparkling rhythms of the final Animé.

Rogé then turned to shorter works by Eric Satie and Francis Poulenc, two pensive Gnossiennes (nocturnes) by the former and Trois Pieces by Poulenc, a pastorale treated with calm and mystery, a toccata embodying perpetual motion alternating hands, broken chord figures and hymne florid melody. All these were rendered with full advantage being taken of the composer's widely characteristic witty, intimate, brilliant offerings which Rogé finds most appealing.

The remainder of our guest's program was devoted to the Preludes-Book II of Claude Debussy, the great array of moods and tempos having been considered mainly sound-picture equivalents of Claude Monet's impressionism.

Rogé's formidable technique and vision were required to create the colours and capture these changing moods. His tone was quintessential, his conceptions pentrating, sensitive and intelligent. He is an elegant musicmaker.

These preludes also revealed Rogé's mystery of pedal colouring, of producing from the piano the sense, as Debussy wanted, of somehow playing the strings without hitting a hammer. It was radiant and merited the standing ovation Pascal received at the close of his recital.

- Ross Brougham