International Piano Magazine January/February 2023
Review of Wigmore Hall recital, 25th November 2022
“Someone from whom we don’t yet hear enough is the British pianist Joseph Tong whose lunchtime recital – a satisfying blend of old and new – was perfect in every way. After Schumann’s Arabesque he played Sibelius’ seldom performed suite The Trees, catching the gentle waywardness of the first, letting the overtones shine through in the third, and ending in splendour with ‘The Spruce’. Under Tong’s hands the poetry of these unassuming little pieces flowered persuasively.
Then he gave the London premiere of Five Trees – David Matthews’ answer to the Sibelius set. These pieces seemed to grow organically out of Sibelius, with hints of medieval modality and occasional touches of Debussy: Tong’s grave and commanding touch was exactly what this very English music required. He rounded things off with a performance of Schubert’s Wanderer Fantasy which was notable in its raw expressiveness, and in its successful yoking of wild passion and meticulous control.”
“The miniatures of Grieg’s Stimmungen came over in suitably kaleidoscopic guise: if these deserve to be part of the regular concert repertoire, so, most certainly, do the Sibelius works he played.
Valse triste, which has pre-echoes of Ravel’s La valse, came over hauntingly, and Five Characteristic Impressions came clad in mellifluous languor, thunderous energy, and evanescent delicacy; the Sonata in F honoured the memory of Beethoven, Schumann, and Liszt.”
International Piano Magazine, Nov/Dec 2017