Concert Reviews

“From the piano she ensures the integrity of the performance, offering an exquisite sound at every moment. Her touch, the rainbow of colours she uses, and the absolute security of her lead… were deeply impressive.”

El Diario Vasco, Spain, Feb 1998

“The trio has a violinist and cellist of extraordinary quality, and a pianist who is quite simply sublime.”
Canary Islands Times, Mar 1998

“Susan Tomes and Anthony Marwood in confident understatement and unerring teamwork. An irresistible blend of affection and humour.”
New York Times, Apr 1998

“The Florestan Trio has such self-control and consistency, but also such conviction and conceptual power, that its blend of intellect and emotion could really be the ‘Golden Mean’.”
Bergsträsser Anzeiger, Germany, May 1998

 “The Florestan Trio certainly boast an outstanding pianist who kept producing magical things from the piano all night. You couldn’t keep your ears off her.”
New Zealand Herald, Oct 1998

“It is the way that Susan Tomes, listens, anticipates, interacts and understands the serendipitous nature of performance… that made this one of the most spellbinding concerts of the year.”
Wellington Weekly, New Zealand, Oct 1998

“The Nash Ensemble were in their element (in the Wigmore Hall’s Poulenc Anniversary Concert)… Susan Tomes’ piano wizardry dazzling the ear.”
The Times, Jan 1999

“Being a pianist myself, I may be biased, but for me it was Susan Tomes’s chamber music expertise which remains my most precious memory of the Dvorak Festival in the Queen Elizabeth Hall (on 7 November 1999). Her musicianship shone brightly in the ever-popular opus 81 piano quintet, the trio opus 65, and the Romantic Pieces, with Anthony Marwood, always sensitive in give and take, making the melodies sing, textures transparent, tone pellucid (I had to check that it was really a Steinway!)”, Nov 1999

“Susan Tomes has been one of my favourite chamber music pianists ever since the days of Domus.”
Sydney Morning Herald, Australia, Sep 2001

“It is clear that, if the bottom dropped out of the piano trio market, Susan Tomes might well find another career as a raconteur; she had the audience in fits of laughter at her anecdotes of the Trio’s recent tour … In all this it is difficult to single out one individual, but mention must be made of the piano playing of Susan Tomes. At the same time commandingly powerful, she made light of the awesome technical demands, while throughout the evening her quietly expressive face betrayed her joy in music-making with friends, her satisfaction at a phrase well-turned, all in the context of ten-tenths committed playing on the part of all three musicians.”
Kent and Sussex Courier, Oct 2001

“Sheer delight … Susan Tomes tossed off the extravagant rhetorical swoops and decorative runs with virtuoso aplomb, while somehow projecting an awareness that the other players’ contributions were just as important. It’s rare to see tact and bravura in such perfect balance.”
Daily Telegraph, Jan 2003, reviewing Florestan at the Wigmore Hall

“The idea (still commonly encountered) that a first-rate chamber pianist is somehow less of a virtuoso than the barnstorming soloist has always been preposterous. In the case of Susan Tomes it amounts to nothing less than a scandal. Her piano-playing alone, even apart from her stellar musicianship, exceeds in mastery, subtlety and range that of many a headlining whiz-bang. But no comparisons are necessary. Whether as a member of Domus, in the Florestan Trio, or indeed in any other company, she proves herself a member of the elect.”
Piano Magazine, Mar 2006

“There are few pianists on the stage today – and none in piano trios that I can think of – who can touch Tomes for technique, sound, tonal palette, dynamic control and general musical sensitivity.”
Ann Arbor News, USA, Oct 2006

“Susan Tomes’s stylish pianism is unimpeachable. Her round, fruity clarity in passagework and trills is a Mozartian’s dream.”
Pianist Magazine, Dec 2006

“The extremely varied art of touch used by pianist Susan Tomes guaranteed a homogenous sound of the first excellence. That was not to be taken for granted in such a resonant room! She phrased so subtly and silkily that the tiniest motif spoke clearly. Gunter Wand once said that one must speak rather play Haydn, and this she did in a compelling and exemplary manner … she always stayed in total balance with the strings – with no trace of a dull or dark tone – and even with the piano fully open. That’s what I call sound control!”
D’Wort, Luxembourg, May 2007 (reviewing an Echternach Festival concert)

“Pianist Tomes drew some of the best sound heard in years from the problematic Steinway grand at Carnegie Music Hall, while her interpretive insight was no less stunning than her fluency.”
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, USA, Mar 2008

“A different kind of virtuosity … Tomes’s playing of Mozart’s G major concerto K453 was neat, musically intelligent, subtle, and characteristic of a musician who has a high reputation as a player of chamber music … though the orchestra did not always match the finesse of her phrasing and articulation, there was much to treasure.”
Irish Times, May 2008

“This led to Mozart’s G major piano concerto with Susan Tomes as soloist. Tomes is a deeply insightful pianist with a simple elegance and an unfussy style which makes you believe you could play it yourself.”
Sunday Business Post, Dublin, Jun 2008

“The way that Susan Tomes shapes the piano part, pays attention to every dynamic and responds tonally and rhythmically to her partners at every moment, confirms in the highest degree the musicality of this outstanding pianist.”
D’Wort, Luxembourg, Jun 2009

“Pianist Susan Tomes is spectacular, with a mastery of dynamics that is often stunning.”
Audiophile Audition (USA), June 2009

“Throughout the whole recital, Susan Tomes displayed a crystalline touch, great precision both in dexterity and ornamentation, and a clairvoyant musicality.”
Portuguese review of Florestan concerts in Lisbon, Nov 2009

‘Throughout, pianist Susan Tomes played with characteristic expressive clarity, giving full voice to Beethoven’s expansive gestures yet never drowning the strings. This was playing of extraordinary transparency.’
The Strad, Feb 2010

‘This was some of the most intuitive, candid and affectionate ensemble playing I’ve heard… She and Erich Höbarth gelled seamlessly and inspired real playfulness; the artful junction between phrases, the cheerful buoyancy of dance rhythms, the shared joy in virtuosity that neither took too seriously.’
The Guardian, Nov 2011

‘Since the opening of Perth Concert Hall, this was the concert that has given the most purely musical delight.’
Perthshire Advertiser, Nov 2011 (writing about Susan Tomes and Erich Höbarth in Perth Concert Hall)

‘Breathtaking…. if any playing could pay proper homage to Vegh’s teachings, this would be it.’
Herald, Dec 2011 (writing about Susan Tomes and Erich Höbarth in Perth Concert Hall)

‘In this second of the series of four, the supreme level of playing and partnership [of Susan Tomes and Erich Höbarth] was maintained …. you could believe that no-one could play these works better. ‘
Perthshire Advertiser, Dec 2011

‘[Susan Tomes has] Such touch and artistry …. effortlessly beautiful.’ Perthshire Advertiser, Dec 2011

‘Tomes once memorably observed that the pianist in a chamber group tends to be the player with the bigger picture in their head, knowing more than the string players do, and often thinking more radically…. Her observation was richly borne out, with her silky, incisive playing exuding effortless authority and a wonderfully mercurial quality in the finale.’ Independent, 9.1.12

‘As usual, Susan Tomes’s piano playing, never showy, but always holding the attention, was the foundation..’  Guardian, 10.1.12

‘Susan Tomes’s athletic piano, her articulation clean and healthy, the rhythms bursting with Vitamin C, driving along the music…. So farewell then, Florestan Trio, a group now breaking up after 16 years of the most energizing and mellifluous music-making on the world’s concert platforms.’  The Times, 10.1.12

‘A resplendent vindication of the qualities that have made the Florestan Trio a byword for excellence…
With the lion’s share of interest falling to pianist Tomes, the breadth and lucidity of her tone provided a perfectly landscaped backdrop that remained constantly in motion and included many finely executed solo flourishes.’ Guardian, 12.1.12

‘This series [with Susan Tomes and Erich Höbarth] was probably the most gentle, finest run of musical delight Horsecross has yet produced… again the audience found pleasure in the perfect partnership before them.’ Perthshire Advertiser, 4.5.2012

‘This concert marked the end of Perth’s superb all-Mozart Series from Erich Höbarth and Susan Tomes…. each time I went I was blown away; this was musical partnership at its most convivial, intimate and intuitive. …Tomes is unflashy and unshakeable, noble and brilliantly matter-of-fact. She never overstates; with musicality this solid she doesn’t have to.’ Herald, 4.5.2012

‘At the Guildhall [in the Bath Mozartfest], pianist Susan Tomes joined forces with the Viennese fiddler Erich Hoebarth for an all-Mozart programme of four sonatas for ‘fortepiano with violin accompaniment’ and one of his most significant fragments, Fantasia in C minor for solo piano … it’s always a pleasure to hear Mozart on the threshhold of his astonishing final decade, especially in performances of such urbane grace and witty repartee….  To paraphrase Goethe’s description of the string quartet, this was a stimulating conversation between two intelligent people – ideal morning concert fare, in the company of two of the finest chamber musicians around.’
Sunday Times, 18.11.2012

‘After the interval [at Wigmore Hall], Tomes performed the first three of Schubert’s Moments Musicaux…  Tomes attentively imbued the somewhat sparse writing with a real sense of wisdom, the melodies lilting and sweet yet profound as well as touching.  No.2 in A-flat, Andantino, possessed a particularly lulling sway at the opening, but this was startlingly disturbed by the strong accents and dramatic minor-key interjections which carried us from composure to sadness, even despair.  No.3 in F minor, first published as ‘Aire Russe’, possessed a delightful charm, beneath which one intimated, perhaps, a sense of the darkness of the Rhineland forest.  Overall, in these three pieces the juxtaposition of strong contrasts of feeling was expertly controlled.’
Seen and Heard International, 17.2.2015

‘Tomes at her most supremely elegant … characteristic refinement, polish and understatement – she forces nothing, puts nothing under pressure … pristine pianism.’ Herald, 7.6.2015

‘Perceptive clarity and an infectious sense of fun … and in the Mozart, a performance of subtle reflection and sensitivity, Tomes’s pianism integrating gently, but finding just the right moments to come to the fore with clean, pertinent comment… This year’s Cottier jamboree got off to a warm-hearted, visibly popular start.’ The Scotsman, 8.6.2015

‘Now in its fifth year, the Cottier Chamber Project feels bigger, more ambitious, and a firmer part of Glasgow’s musical scene than ever before, as shown by the ever more eminent names appearing… On Friday the revered chamber pianist Susan Tomes made the third of her Cottier Chamber Project appearances this year, joining the Aurea Quartet for Mozart’s piano concerto K414. .. It’s hard to imagine a more elegant, graceful performance of it. Tomes characterful playing was beautifully fluid, and the Aurea Quartet gave delicate but assured support.’ Scotsman, 15.6.2015

‘There are some moments in concert performance where everything, magically, just clicks. It’s the time, it’s the place, the space, the people playing, it’s the music to hand; it’s the crowd, the atmosphere, the occasion and the vibe, as we used to say. It’s the moment, as all these strands feed into, reinforce and enhance one another, resulting in a cumulative effect that transcends definition, when the word synchronicity looms in my mind. It comes unbidden, but to me it seems the exact word with which to explain the grace and power of the enthralling performances that captivated the large audience on Friday night…
I’ve gone on and on here for decades about the fact that it is not necessary in performance to shout in order to be heard. And that was exemplified in the absolutely beautiful performance by Susan Tomes of Mozart’s A major Piano Concerto K414, in its chamber version, written by the composer himself, for just piano and string quartet. Tomes’s exquisite scaling of the piece in this form was perfectly matched to the close-up environment, the intimacy of the accompaniment by the Aurea Quartet and the spellbound atmosphere in the venue.’
Herald, 14.6.2015

‘[During the Haydn-Mozart residency with Quatuor Mosaiques in Perth Concert Hall] Tomes’s thoughtful, gently expressive performances did, indeed, make a palpable case for the thematic connections she had suggested… Where flamboyance was called for, it was always in the true spirit of the music, vital but carefully tempered.’
Scotsman, 15.2.2016

‘What an extraordinary weekend’s music-making [with the Quatuor Mosaiques] in Perth Concert Hall! …Pianist Susan Tomes gave us dazzling Haydn ….and achingly beautiful Mozart’.
Herald, 14.2.2016

Susan Tomes shows why she’s such a Perth favourite. … Stylish Mozart playing at its best … seeming simplicity and beauty combining to make the soundtrack to paradise.

‘The concert series given by the Quatuor Mosaiques and Susan Tomes must mark the greatest series in the ten years of Perth Concert Hall.’
Perthshire Advertiser, 19.2.16

‘Tomes allowed the music to speak for itself, delivering ravishing interpretations completely unfettered by affectation or indulgence. …She is a treasure in our midst.’
Scotsman, 30.4.16

‘A superb group [at Glasgow University Concert Hall] comprised of pianist Susan Tomes, the inimitable violinist Jim Clark and RSNO principal cellist Alexei Kiseliov. These three great musicians gave a fine, lucid performance of Clara Schumann’s Trio and an explosively impassioned, volatile performance of Smetana’s stunning Piano Trio: the players had this one by the throat from bar one and never let go.’
Herald, 6.6.16

‘This was a beautifully conceived, brilliantly executed programme by a pianist who combines a rock solid technique with a rare ability to communicate her deep understanding of the music she plays. With little fuss, Susan Tomes distils the essence of a piece of music into its purest form in the most profound and moving way.
Scotsman, 11.2.17, on my solo recital at the Queen’s Hall in Edinburgh

‘An examplary demonstration of ensemble playing at the highest level. … The dark days of February have been indelibly brightened by Winterplay.’
Scotsman, 12.2.18, on my Winterplay festival at the Queen’s Hall in Edinburgh

‘A demonstration of stylistic diversity … as an hour of quality music-making, the Westbourne team could have scheduled nothing better.’
Herald, 9.9.18, on my duo recital with Maya Iwabuchi, opening the Westbourne Music season in Glasgow

‘If the C minor Piano Quartet by Gabriel Fauré and the even more familiar and popular G minor Quartet by Mozart are works Tomes must have played countless times, there is a zestful freshness that is unmistakable in these performances … Tomes conveys effortless poise.’
Vox Carnyx, 11.3.21, on my appearance in the SCO digital concert series with Mozart and Fauré piano quartets

‘Tomes grips the eye as well as the ear, for she has mastered the art of throwaway perfectionism in music that’s in her blood. Relaxed and authoritative at the keyboard, the alchemistic Scot spun black printed dots into gold as what appeared to be an idle flick of the wrist or a casual finger-twiddle became a perfectly formed moment of virtuosity.’
Bachtrack, 12.3.21, review of SCO digital concert series

‘Piano quartets by Mozart and Fauré (*****) … These were supple, sublime accounts from a quartet of SCO strings plus guest pianist Susan Tomes. And they were all the stronger for their restraint: the finale of Mozart’s K478 felt quite unassuming, and all the more human for that, and while there was a sense of power waiting to be unleashed throughout Fauré’s First Piano Quartet, it found its outlet in a gloriously exuberant conclusion. It was life-affirming stuff, captivating and moving.’
5-star review from The Scotsman, 2 April 2021

‘Susan Tomes joined string soloists from the Scottish Chamber Orchestra to play piano quartets by Mozart and Fauré, in a concert that made a virtue of these works’ difference. Mozart’s quartet was played with reduced vibrato and a touch of steel, tapping into the work’s dramatic austerity, but Fauré’s surged with Romantic ardour, vibrato restored, throbbing passion replacing classical elegance.’ The Times, 13 Sept 2021, in a five-star review of the Lammermuir Festival 2021




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