For several years I was a regular guest artist with Graham Hair’s ensemble and concert series Scottish Voices. It was in this context that I presented Kurtag’s The Sayings of Peter Bornemisza Op.7 with Jane Manning.
‘Soprano Jane Manning was joined by the young pianist Rachel Beckles Willson for the Scottish premiere of The Sayings of Peter Bornemisza by Kurtag. it’s an outrageously contemporary piece, constructed in a series of outbursts from the voice, the piano, or both. Somehow the music seemed to cast a spell over the capacity audience, not broken until the last utterance from the piano.
The enthusiastic reception was wholly deserved for Manning’s faultless translation. Each word was vividly illustrated comsewhere amidst her immense vocal range. Beckles Willson was faced with e fiendishly difficulat part which may easily have writen for four hands. She proved it is possible with two.’
Elizabth Clark, The Herald, June 14, 1994.
‘Sunday’s [concert] was the third and last of the present series. This one was different again, in that it offered a platform to a superb pianist. Rachel Beckles Willson, a graduate of the RSAMD and Glasgow University, has an assured technique married to considerable physical strength.
Her performances of Messiaen’s two Ile de Feu and Elliot Cater’s 1945 Piano Sonata were a tour de force of accomplished pianism. But more, she brought to the music – especially the Carter – a beautiful lyricism. I don’t think I’ve heard this high-quality world sing quite so much. Terrific.’
Michael Tumelty, The Herald, 9 March 1993.