Llyr Williams, City Hall, Glasgow

Michael Tumelty

Five stars

PIANIST Llyr Williams had a corker of a programme for his final contribution to Glasgow’s three-year Beethoven fest on Sunday. First, in a programme to feature Variations and Fugues, he would play the Eroica Variations. Now what, you might ask, are they? The Eroica Symphony finale is familiar enough; but the Eroica Variations?

I do know them, but only from CD recordings. I’ve never heard them in concert. And neither, it transpired, has Svend Brown, Glasgow concert halls director. They’re simply not played. It’s a set of 15 Variations written on the theme and associated iconic bass line of the Eroica finale. They are essentially melodic variations: Beethoven doesn’t play about with the harmony or the rhythm; I counted three wee turns into a minor key, but they’re transient. It’s not one of his more intellectual sets. It’s just damn good fun.

And Llyr Williams had a ball with the piece, which is packed with character and pianistic hi-jinks: he found a stray oompah in there, as well as a cheeky left-hand run that could have been an escapee from a Tom and Jerry cartoon, circa 1802! Fabulous. And the fun continued with the good-natured, benign opus 14 no 2 Sonata with its characterful wee march, and a finale that brims with humour and ends, I swear, with a cheeky wink from the Man himself. The glorious opus 101 Sonata in A, which begins in the middle of a sentence (nice one, Ludwig) and ends in a boisterous Beethoven sign-off with the most perfect little Fugue in the centre, was a very good end to Williams’ stint.