CD Reviews:

BBC Music Magazine, July 2017 *****/*****

There was a time when a recital featuring a number of different period horns and pianos would have almost certainly been an uphill struggle for both players and listeners. So to encounter a programme featuring some of the core works in the horn repertoire played on historically appropriate instruments with such effortless musicianship and technical ease really takes some believing… Frank-Gemmill and Beatson enter the fray with fearless alacrity, making even the most well-worn of phrases sound freshly minted.

Robin Stowell, Strad Magazine, March 2015

Alasdair Beatson is the more prominent protagonist in the two Mozart sonatas but Esther Hoppe admirably complements his perceptive playing in their various exchanges, particularly in the finales. Their close rapport and flexible performance approach yield elegant, accomplished readings, which are persuasive in their vitality. Hoppe’s warm, graceful and unhurried contribution in both of the slow movements is particularly enjoyable – she caresses significant notes appropriately and realises ornamental lines non-metrically, as if spontaneously. Spontaneity is also the key to their thoughtfully timed, subtly inflected interplay in K454’s opening Largo, and their account of the subsequent Allegro combines athleticism, brilliance and humour.
Their performance of Stravinsky’s Divertimento faithfully recreates the atmosphere and programmatic aspects of his ballet The Fairy’s Kiss, ‘inspired by the Muse of Tchaikovsky’. Hoppe may not quite match the verve and intensity of, for example, Judith Ingolfsson in this repertoire (Audite) but she maintains the dance-like character of the four movements, especially in the folksy ‘Danses suisses’ and the capricious scherzo. She also recreates most effectively the glacial world of Hans Christian Andersen’s ice maiden and shades Stravinsky’s magical themes with striking colour. Beatson provides virtuoso support. The recording is first class, adding pleasing bloom to the sonorous tone of Hoppe’s 1609 Gioffredo Cappa instrument.

Julian Haylock, Classic FM Magazine, July 2011

…[Beatson] shapes and weights every phrase with a caring devotion, liquid sonority and gentle cantabile ideal for Mendelssohn’s sound world.  There are times here where one could scarcely credit a hammer mechanism is involved… highly sensitive playing of rare insight.

Calum MacDonald, International Record Review, May 2011 – IRR OUTSTANDING

…[Beatson] certainly adds lustre to his growing reputation with this splendidly enjoyable Mendelssohn recital… a beautiful disc that has seldom been off my CD player in the last few days.

Michael Tumelty, Glasgow Herald, 29/8/09 ****

…The lightness, clarity and intellectual coherence of Schumann’s underrated Abegg Variations are gleamingly poetic in Beatson’s hands.  He is equally at home with the purity of Grieg’s Four Pieces, the relatively massive textures of Brahms 1st Sonata, very compact here, and Berg’s great expressionist sonata where the pianist achieves a transparency rare in performances of this one-off composition.

Nicholas Salwey, International Record Review, September 2009

[the Berg Sonata] receives the most commanding performance…an entirely convincing reading to rank alongside the finest.

Calum MacDonald, International Piano Magazine, July/August 2009

…There’s no question that Beatson is a gifted pianist… a deeply impressive debut disc.

Rising Star of BBC Music Magazine, July 2009


Concert Reviews:

Fiona Maddocks, the Guardian 19/11/17

Formerly BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artists and winners of several international competitions, this snappy, stylish group (Meta4) were collaborating for the first time with Scottish pianist Alasdair Beatson. Quartet and pianist found an intense, meticulous language to guide them through the cryptic world of Shostakovich’s Piano Quintet in G minor, Op 57 (1940).

The concert’s other work, a fine companion, was the UK premiere of Piano Quintet (2014) by Olli Mustonen (born 1967), like Shostakovich a composer-pianist. Beatson took the characterful lead in this zestful, often wild and stormy work, which twists baroque patterns with Finnish folk dance, now knotted, now manic, now sparse.

Michael Tumelty, The Herald Scotland 9/6/16

…an enthralling performance by Janiczek and Beatson… a penetrating and revealing encounter, through totally analytical and deftly-delivered performance that left this listener stunned into silence.

Christopher Lambton,, Edinburgh Queen’s Hall with Scottish Ensemble, 29/10/14

Beatson returned to the stage for the reassuringly straightforward piano concerto no12 in A, K414 by Mozart. Beatson is a consummate ensemble musician, undemonstrative, gentle, and mercifully free of the histrionics that infect many solo pianists. With subtle use of the soft pedal to achieve a lovely covered sound from the Queen’s Hall Steinway, this was a performance to relish for its grace and musicianship.

Kate Molleson Highlights of Scotland’s Classical Music during 2012, The Herald Scotland 28/12/12

In June Alasdair Beatson’s Mozart with the wind principals of the Scottish Chamber Orchestra was bold and boisterous at the Cottier Chamber Music Project; in November his Schubert – the Wanderer Fantasy at Glasgow’s Piano series – was intimate and thrilling.

on William Lyne 80th Birthday concert, Wigmore Hall, 28/11/12:

Opening each half with Fauré, pianist Alasdair Beatson offered searching, lyrical playing that will have won him many friends here besides Lyne.  (Erica Jeal, Guardian, 30/11/12)

These sort of spangly tributes can become a bit fragmentary and superficial. No danger of that here. Beatson, tipped by Lyne for big things, anchored each half of the concert with two works by Fauré, of which the dreamy Nocturne No 6 was particularly fine.  (Neil Fisher, The Times, 30/11/12)

Exquisite solo Fauré by Alasdair Beatson  (Barry Millington, London Evening Standard, 29/11/12), Wigmore Hall, 8/5/12

There’s a sort of modesty in his approach that is extremely appealing: there’s not a hint of egotism or self aggrandisement, which manifests in exceptionally well prepared performances which always seek to serve the music as aptly and perfectly as possible, without ever adding anything extraneous or resorting to “playing to the gallery”. So huge technical demands are surmounted just as dutifully as a singing cantabile line or well measured cadence…. The Herculean feats of pianism required by this [Schubert Wanderer Fantasy] score were played with careful intensity initially, with Beatson utilising an extroardinarily wide ranging timbral pallete to delineate its complicated form. A stroke of genius was to hold back the full sonority of the piano until the massive fugue that opens the finale, the thunderous breadth of its contours pinning every audience member to their seat, until the final climax, which was so gargantuan as to be astonishing.  [Read the entire review here]

Peter Reed,, Wigmore Hall, 8/5/12

…showed off the control and clarity of his playing… considerable virtuosity… honoured by the subtlety and power of Beatson’s disarmingly direct playing.  [Read the entire review here]

Sarah Urwin Jones, The Times, 25/10/11

The most fascinating came last. The 14-year-old Mendelssohn’s impressive Concerto for Violin, Piano and Strings in D Minor wears its musical influences very much on its sleeve. Exuberantly virtuosic, there’s something curious in its mix of bravura showmanship for the two soloists and the somewhat intermittent scoring for the strings.
Certainly the expressive Alasdair Beatson had its measure, repeatedly called on to scamper up and down the keyboard, sometimes dominating, sometimes accompanying Morton’s refined, gossamer violin. 

Carol Main, The Scotsman, 28/10/11 ****

Pianist Alasdair Beatson was mesmerising, his quiet effervescence well matched with Morton’s own understated style.

Michael Tumelty, Glasgow Herald, 27/10/11 *****

…violinist Jonathan Morton and his Scottish Ensemble in superb form, along with outstanding pianist Alasdair Beatson… the magnificent, totally persuasive account of Mendelssohn’s youthful Double Concerto, with Morton and Beatson perfect foils in a gloriously discursive performance

Peter Reed, Classical Source, 22/2/11

…a display of delirious, explosive playing…

Beatson’s performance was magisterial, charting the gradual shift into ever-more subtle refinement with unerring perception – in short, a revelation.

[Read the entire review here.]

Michael Tumelty, Glasgow Herald, 26/1/10 *****

…a major Scottish musical figure… extraordinary set of performances… pristine pianism… musicianship of the highest order.

Musical Opinion, March – April 2009

…hugely enjoyable performance… outstanding calibre.

Kenneth Carter, Classical Source, 9/10/08

Beatson is a fine pianist. He has nonchalant technique, winning sensitivity and commanding authority. He ripples, he ruminates and he sparkles. He had a nifty way with a jazz beat and a deliciously irreverent send-up of the romantic cliché. He is also wilful. This attribute renders his performance vital and distinctive.

Kenneth Walton, The Scotsman, 6/10/08

The big surprise of the evening was Beatson, a relatively new kid on the block, but a startling musician who brought his own idiosyncratic zest to Shostakovich’s Concerto No 1 for piano, trumpet and strings.  He sprang into action with positively overt eccentricity, striking up a potent double act with Balsom – devilish protagonist meets elegant diva.

Paul Driver, Sunday Times, 15/1/06

Artistry incarnate – that was Beatson

Annette Morreau, The Independent, 12/1/06

Beatson’s performance (without score) of Dutilleux‘s 1948 Piano Sonata was outstanding. Here is a young artist of exceptional talent and confidence, making musical sense of all he played.

Stephen Pettitt, Evening Standard, 10/1/06

…masterly readings… beautifully, poignantly played

Gisborne Herald

…like a demented Quasimodo…


Also read about Alasdair in The Telegraph blog ‘Bright Young Things’