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Record Box - Planning your collection - with Bill Newman


Global Fascinations and Sophistications

John Bingham


I always make a point of going to hear John Bingham play. He alerts me when his next recital is, and his secretary confirms the booking. Frankly I always learn more from aspects of his interpretations than I do from the cotery of so-called world famous 'greats' (who are usually selected by influential critical buffs beforehand, then 'plugged' to death) because he always places himself entirely at the service of the composer without caring whether or not he hits the best-selling charts. John, however, enjoyed high praise some time back for his Meridian CD of Liszt-Schubert Transcriptions and considerable successes with his Chopin, and now, Beethoven. He enjoys touring abroad - Japan, Russia, the USA, Australia in particular, and has fond memories of appearances with Barbirolli, Pritchard, Meredith Davies and Tennstedt. One of the select pianists to study with Nadia Boulanger, he also spent two years with Stanislav Neuhaus (son of Heinrich).

Ludwig van Beethoven. John Bingham - piano (c) 1999 Meridian Records

I would place his two CDs of Beethoven at the top of the list over competitors, for one valid reason: he 'reads' into the philosophical meaning behind the notes to construct the correct phrase shapings allied to pulse and dynamic markings . This may sound simple, but in the light of 1.distorted, over-rushed, over-loud performances or 2. under-played Beethoven for the sake of beauty of sound, it comes as a blessed relief that here is the closest to Schnabel in composer-pianist terms. In the Opus 111 Sonata there is the same transcendancy as the Arietta spirals upwards to heavenly heights, bringing back cherished memories. Fantasia Op 77, Sonata Op 78 and the Eroica Variations Op 35 beforehand, are a preparation of what is to come.

Ludwig van Beethoven. John Bingham - piano (c) 1999 Meridian Records

The companion CD reverses the procedure by placing the 33 Variations on a waltz by Diabelli, Op.120 first, before the 6 Variations Op.34. At the climax to the great Fugue section of the former the music takes on a simplicity hard to describe [listen - end of tr33 - 1:20 in to tr.34] but the ethereal strains take us into another world. Both discs were recorded at Eltham Palace, London. I am sure they were live transmissions.

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Copyright © 18 October 2000 Bill Newman, Edgware, UK







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