Toad Lane Concerts: Jonathan Ellis concert pianist

Date published: 05 February 2024

Jonathan Ellis is no stranger to Toad Lane Concerts having appeared as a soloist, chamber music player and accompanist to singers and instrumentalists over many years. He has phenomenal technique, stamina and powerful delivery. So, it was great to see him in his own right as a first-rate concert pianist, making the most of the vintage 1933 Challen Grand Piano and the acoustics in St Mary in the Baum Church on 31 January.

After starting to learn the piano at the age of three, Jonathan studied at Wells Cathedral School, and moved on to the prestigious joint music course of the RNCM and Manchester University, where he graduated first-class from both institutions and gained an impressive range of higher diplomas and prizes.

He works regularly with his Ryebank Trio as well as for City of Manchester Opera, Bury Choral Society, Opera Seria, Heritage Opera, the Pennine Spring Music Festival and the Buxton Festival Fringe, where he has three awards and five nominations since 2010. He also works for the musical charities “Music in Hospitals” and “Live Music Now.”

Schubert’s dramatic Sonata in A minor, D. 784 was brilliant, virtuosic with touches of deep passion. A worthy performance to celebrate the great composer’s birth, this day in 1797.

A suite by Ravel in homage to Schubert followed, Valses nobles et sentimentales. This most often heard in its orchestral version, but here in its original form for piano, Jonathan made the most of the varied styles and moods of the waltz movements, taking it to another level with breathtaking stamina and energy.

Ballade #2 in B minor by Liszt was taken at a powerful and blistering pace to top off another sensational recital.

You would have to travel far to hear a live performance of this quality. Here we had it in the centre of Rochdale.

The Queen’s Award-winning Toad Lane Concerts every Wednesday at 12.30pm at the Grade 1 listed church of St Mary in the Baum, Toad Lane, Rochdale, OL16 1DZ. Entrance fee is £6. Contact 01706 648872 for further information.

To see details of forthcoming Toad Lane Concerts, click here.

Dr Joe Dawson

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