Joseph Tong at Presteigne Festival

Hereford Times, 2018

The first piece, ‘Reflections’, in Edvard Grieg’s suite Stemninger (‘Moods’), which opened Joseph Tong’s piano recital the following afternoon, picked up the melancholy atmosphere of the opera, and indeed there was a lot of darkness, death, and pain in the festival programme as a whole.

It featured music by composers from the Baltic states of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia – marking the centenary of their existence as independent republics – and from the Nordic countries, so perhaps an element of ‘Scandi-noir’ in the subject matter was unsurprising.

Tong’s impressive recital included the first world premiere of the weekend, Cydonie Banting’s The Gate of Dawn, which takes its title from an early 16th-century city fortification in Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania and is infused with folk melodies and the sound of bells.

Clare Stevens