In a way, this was a virtuoso programme, but Alasdair Beatson is not a pianist inclined to indulge in vapid displays of skill and empty gesturing. Rather, this was a set of slightly unobvious works where the music was very much the point, not the performer.

We opened with Mozart's Piano sonata in F K332. The first movement is one of the most charmingly quirky and surprising of all Mozart's piano sonata movements with its exciting rhythmic dislocations, unusual figurations and unexpected harmonic shifts, here all lovingly and cheekily delivered. After a beautifully peaceful and largely predictable Adagio, we get an extremely unexpected toccata that is wildly showy and Beatson rose to the occasion with brilliantly pointed playing and sparkling classicism.

Fauré is one of those highly interesting characters composing music in the first quarter of the century, employing an essentially romantic compositional technique which is radically extended beyond the remit of 19th century sounds. In the new century, Fauré becomes ever stranger, more veiled and quietly radical, though he remains fundamentally the same composer: felicitous, polished, crystalline, always refined and elegant, whatever small ripples might appear to threaten the smooth surface of radiant calm. On the programme were the Nine Preludes, Op.103, completed in 1911. This was not a reading that attempted to mitigate Faure's exceptionally complex harmonies in any way and the pieces were presented in all their sinuous, twisting discomfort. But equally, Beatson allowed the many moments of luminous beauty to shine through, resonate, and make their welcome effect; the gently lapping waves of Nos. 1, 4 and 7 were lovingly rendered in soft arcs of wonderfully hushed and sensitive legato.

Ravel's music is more extrovert and obviously brilliant in effect than Faure's, but the same tight control and perfect attention to detail is present, and the Piano Sonatine of 1905, with its nuanced virtuoso demands is typical of these compositional predilictions. The diminuative title refers perhaps to the work's short duration and light, bright tone, but it is every bit as lovely as Ravel's other wonderful piano works, and the huge technical challenge it presents also belie its title. Beatson's account was clear and ringing, the apparently splashy virtuosity of the finale dispatched with pleasingly effortless panache and precision. 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.

Most impressive of all was Beatson's traversal of the Schubert's "Wanderer" Fantasy, D760. This piece is commonly considered to be the most challenging of all Schubert's piano works, and what it may lack in sentiment and depth it compensates with its monumental weight, thrusting momentum and highly unorthodox structure. The Herculean feats of pianism required by this 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.

And then as an encore a delightful piece by Enescu in memory of his teacher Fauré, which felt so right from this artist in its quiet warmth and modest serenity after so thrilling a piece of virtuoso pianism.

Alasdair Beatson piano, at Wigmore HallLawrence Dart reviews Alasdair Beatson playing Mozart, Fauré, Ravel and Schubert at the Wigmore Hall.4