Review: Ryedale Festival, Mario Häring, St Peter and St Paul’s Church, Pickering and Duncombe Park, July 17 and 18

THE German-Japanese pianist Mario Häring, runner-up in the Leeds Piano Competition last year, has been keeping busy in Ryedale, with two recitals separated only by a night’s sleep.

On Wednesday evening, he played late chamber music of Brahms with three others. On Thursday morning, he played Debussy and Schumann on his own. He is nothing if not versatile.

In his three Estampes, Debussy steps away from impressionism to something more boldly delineated, even pictorial, as its title implies (‘prints’ or ‘engravings’). Häring was clearly alive to this, but he balanced his strong opening to Pagodes with delicate filigrees later. His colours in an evening in Grenada were equally distinctive. But Gardens In The Rain was more storm-drenched than showery.

In the Children’s Corner suite, Haring’s textures were always clear, even among the swirling snow. He found welcome gentleness in Serenade For The Doll, but crisp syncopation in Golliwogg’s Cakewalk.

The full extent of his virtuosity emerged in Schumann’s Carnaval. His opening alone was scrappy. Thereafter, amid invariably fast tempos, he delivered miraculously clean staccato, even where cross-rhythms challenged. Best of all, he not only played the usually omitted code letters (ASCH), but brought out their presence throughout the suite, which he built to a dazzling conclusion.

In Brahms On Holiday the previous evening – three pieces from a Swiss summer in 1886 – he was intermittently too resolute for his colleagues, so that one wished the piano-lid had been on the short stick rather than wide open. Stepping in at the 11th hour, Bartholomew LaFollette’s cello was masterful in the Sonata, Op 99, matching Häring blow for blow: a little pugilistic, perhaps, but undeniably exciting.

Häring combined more tenderly with Tamsin Waley-Cohen’s violin in the Op 100 sonata. Sensitive throughout, her tone became ever more ravishing as she relaxed. Camille Thomas’s cello joined them for the Op 101 Trio. At first the strings were not keen to match Häring’s volatility, but in the finale they eventually melded triumphantly. All’s well that ends well. Martin Dreyer