<< -- 2 -- Bill Newman PERFECT REALISATIONS
Mendelssohn's Variations sérieuses is a work that has
steadily crept back into the romantic repertory following some of the
silly critical comments of those who considered the devoted Felix too much
the darling of Queen Victoria and Albert, her loving Prince Consort. The
importance of these Royal rulers in matters of good taste shows them as
superior to most of the stuffed-up effigies that constantly air their
vapid views on TV screens. Mei's serious and dramatic view of the piece
reminded me of that prized Cortot recording that caught the fancies of
so many students in their choice of repertoire, and the inimitable way
the Frenchman channelled his listener through a corridor sequence of
finespun rhetoric of ever-increasing complexity until the final apotheosis
calmly led back to an echoed restatement of opening measures.
No lesser imaginative skill came next in our soloist's own
Infinity, a simple expression, perhaps, of childhood memories that
constantly stay in the mind, couched in linear fashion by selected and varied
notation that conjured up reply motives of harmonic imagery which suggested
Eastern influences. Maybe Takemitsu is another case in point, but there are
others like Chou Wen Chung in his orchestral And the Fallen Petals.
Ravel's Le Tombeau de Couperin is resplendent in his output for
the solo pianoforte, yet one is always aware that the French musical painter
is mainly parading the earlier master's facility for inventing dance tunes
that suited the mood of his times. Ravel's penchant for re-vamping his
source material, turning it upside down, sideways and inside out, and
colouring it -- occasionally in absurdly original fashion -- with kaleidoscopic
daring that haunts and delights, can be a stumbling block for pianists.
No fear of that happening with our raven-haired beauty bedecked in black
with high heels to match -- Miss Foo. You could have heard a pin drop
throughout its six movements. I was waiting for a few wrong notes, or the
unannounced blur of phrase intonation; instead I heard one of the most
perfect realizations I am most likely to hear for some little while.
Afterwards, Noretta Conci told me that no one had any idea what they
were going to hear. The element of surprise -- and this view was shared by
Yonty Solomon -- generally adds up to star quality.
So, I will leave it suitably registered with that in mind for all
Copyright © 10 January 2004
Bill Newman, Edgware UK