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Once Daniel had sprung headlong into his 'lion's' den, the effect was overpowering -- the whole audience, taken by storm at the sound and fury of it all, rose to its feet cheering this easygoing insouciant young champ who, without the Romantic affectations of a Charles Mayer (who was known to execute a devilish roulade while blowing a kiss to any lady who took his fancy), had produced the same hypnotic Mephistophelian effect -- though not without buckets of perspiration.

Daniel Grimwood. Photo © Mehmet Tepeli
Daniel Grimwood. Photo © Mehmet Tepeli

Was the game worth the candle? The problem was that our journey ended, as all such sensation-seeking must, not in Liszt but in Pabst, that most meretricious of Liszt's imitators, just as Beethoven had petered out in Czerny. Not that Daniel was unaware of the trade-off involved but that was where his own prodigious talents had brought him and who were we, cheering him to the rafters, to cavil? Like those mock-battles between Royalists and Roundheads, or (in Spain) Christians and Moors, of which Western European society is so fond, perhaps we are destined to see in future such sieges and sapping of the musical high ground by maverick virtuosi (who by the nature of their profession are fated to be fly-by-night) generating equal heat. What remains beyond any doubt is that Daniel Grimwood has conclusively established his credentials as an arch-exponent of 19th century highwire pianism and consequently as a master-tactician in any such work of historical reconstruction.

Copyright © 11 August 2006 Malcolm Troup, London UK






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