Huw Wiggin and Somi Kim, Kendal Town Hall

KENDAL Midday Concert Club has the happy knack - when faced with last-minute changes of artist – of finding replacements of equal professional standing who are significantly much more than mere ‘replacements.’ Such was the case recently when the pianist, James Sherlock, due to partner the saxophonist, Huw Wiggin, in an attractive pre-Christmas recital, was indisposed and unable to appear. In his place Huw called upon Somi Kim, a young South Korean lady, who studied in New Zealand, graduating in 2013, won numerous prizes there and, after moving to the UK to study at the Royal Academy and winning further prizes, has become a Park Lane Group Artist. Somi has gained much experience in repetiteuring and is much sought after as a chamber musician and song accompanist.

Thus the Kendal enthusiasts had before them two supreme performers who treated them to a dazzling display of musicianship, artistry and technical wizardry, the like of which they can only occasionally have encountered. They know Huw Wiggin well - three years ago he warmed the cockles of their hearts with an awe-inspiring display of saxophonology. His programme now, as then, largely revolved around arrangements of other composers’ works and how attractive and successful those arrangements are, and how demanding for both players, too!

Huw, be he on alto or soprano saxophone, has absolute control over tone quality, wide dynamic ranges, breathing, sensitivity of phrasing, rhythmic security and stylistic authenticity. Iturralde, Piazzolla, Bach, Grieg, Yoshimatsu, Bernstein – their works were all were blessed with authoritative, exciting and illuminating performances.

Somi, virtuoso page-turner, the perfect partner and technically stunning was always breathing and phrasing with him and exhibiting an enormous range of colour and tone. Never did she wrongly dominate, her instinct for correct balance being impregnable. Her realisations of two Brahms Intermezzi were just divine.

Rarely does the club’s audience raise a final rousing cheer - they did on this occasion, and justly so.

Brian Paynes