Thursday, March 23, 2017


Margaret Legge Wilkinson, piano
Wednesday Lunchtime Live
Wesley Music Foundation
Wesley Music Centre, Forrest - March 22

Review by Len Power

Presented by the Wesley Music Foundation at the Wesley Music Centre as part of their Wednesday Lunchtime Live concerts, pianist Margaret Legge Wilkinson presented an excellent program of works by Johann Sebastian Bach and Olivier Messaien.

Canberra’s Margaret Legge Wilkinson has received critical acclaim as a virtuoso pianist of contemporary classical music.  As soloist, accompanist and chamber musician, she has performed throughout Australia and in Europe.

‘The Well-Tempered Clavier’ is a collection of two series of Preludes and Fugues in all 24 major and minor keys, composed for solo keyboard by Johann Sebastian Bach.  The first set was compiled in 1722 and the second followed 20 years later.  Margaret Legge Wilkinson commenced the program with three Preludes and Fugues from the second set, numbers 12, 15 and 16 in F minor, G major and G minor respectively.  Her playing of each work was clear and crisp and with a sensitivity and understanding that displayed every dimension of Bach’s distinctive music.

The second half of the program was devoted to Olivier Messaien and five selections from his eight ‘Preludes For Piano’, an early work composed in 1928–1929, when the composer was 20 years old.  Messiaen considered it to be his first work of any value.  Each prelude is accompanied by a description consisting mostly of the associated colours.  For example, the second prelude, ‘Song of ecstasy in a sad landscape’ is given the description, ‘gray, mauve, Prussian blue at the beginning and end; diamond and silver at the middle’.

'Song Of Ecstasy In A Sad Landscape' by Collin Murphy

The music has a haunting quality, at times reminiscent of the music of Debussy.  Each prelude was played beautifully by Margaret Legge Wilkinson, bringing out the full range of colour and emotion.  ‘Moments Past’ and ‘The Impalpable Sounds Of A Dream’ were particularly outstanding.

This was an excellent lunchtime concert of fascinating works by two quite different composers.  The Wednesday Lunchtime Live concerts are held weekly at the Wesley Music Centre at 12.40pm and run for about 50 minutes.

Len Power’s reviews are also broadcast on Artsound FM 92.7 ‘Artcetera’ program (9am Saturdays) and ‘Dress Circle’ (3.30pm Mondays).