Michael Buchanan & Katarzyna Wieczorek at Conway Hall (review)

23-year-old Michael Buchanan, celebrated soloist and highly sought after orchestral musician, joined his duo partner pianist Katarzyna Wieczorek, for an evening recital at London’s Conway Hall.

Of the standard repertoire, the pair offered Castérède’s Sonatina, Peaslee’s Arrows of Time and Bernstein’s solo work for trombone, Elegy for Mippy II. These works dotted through a well-considered programme, served to showcase all that this ensemble has to offer.

The focus of the evening was the world premiere of Liturgy – a new work by Joshua Borin, a friend and contemporary of Michael’s from their time at Clare College, Cambridge.

This atmospheric work was made particularly effective by Borin’s use of the trombones F-valve, creating a distinctive effect likened to Britten’s writing for the natural harmonics of the French horn in his Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings. Such handling of these techniques highlighted Michael’s natural control of the instrument – confirming why he has earned himself the reputation of an emerging artist of great interpretative intelligence and technical capacity.

Thoughtful renditions of Schumann’s highly romantic Fantasiestücke and Bruch’s Kol Nidrei followed, both brilliantly translated through the trombone by Michael, very much supported by the inspiring piano playing of Katarzyna – a quality duo.

Romantic and vocal themes continued with two songs – Korngold’s ‘Marietta’s Lied’ from Die tote Stadt, discovered by Michael at his current position as a contract member of the Vienna State Opera and Vienna Philharmonic and Ravel’s Piece en forme de Habanera, a work originally for voice without words. 

The opportunity to hear a programme of this quality is a rare but important treat as it demonstrates the continuing scope to build on the established repertoire for trombone and piano. There is much more to be said here.

Visit this link to watch Michael perform at Munich’s prestigious International ARD Music Competition final in 2015; this performance earned him both the First Prize and Audience Prize of the competition. Don’t miss it.

Reviewed Wednesday 9 August 2017 at Conway Hall, London