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The leap between the Classical-Romantic Schubert and the Impressionistic Ravel might be deemed audacious and daring, but 'the poetry of childhood' in its charm and simplicity finds no better outlet than in the suite Mother Goose. Its five sections never fail to evoke a picture of the ideal child poring over the coloured illustrations from a favourite storybook which spring out of their specific context into the nursery to entertain the imaginative him, or her, afresh. 'Pavane of the Sleeping Beauty' and 'Hop-o'-my-Thumb' both featured their crystalline freshness, here, although 'Little Ugly, Empress of the Pagodas' in her excursions might have benefited from being slightly slower to give clearer emphasis to the little bell sounds, high up the treble range. I loved the ascending bass rises during 'Conversation between Beauty and the Beast'. You could really be on the side of the 'Sly Old Devil' as he makes his advances prior to being transformed into an ardent, handsome young prince! 'The Magic Garden' did not quite unfold in a stately lent et grave pace. It represents the culmination of all that precedes it and should marginally slow up almost to a halt before the sustained chord (for approximately six seconds) at the close. Here, a slight quickening of pace in the penultimate bar connected with a clipped final note.

Lucille Chung
Lucille Chung

Apart from Sophie Prett's delightful interview with the artists at the start, Alessio gave the audience pointers to listen out for in Stravinsky's complete Petrushka ballet score, emphasizing in particular the descriptions of characters and colourings in the programme notes. In this, the players reversed their positions: Lucille in the treble range, Alessio, bass to middle. The quality and clarity of notation suited the composer's score admirably. The pace chosen resembled Dorati's Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra Mercury recording, which approximates Stravinsky's original metronome markings (1914 version). It gives emphases to the character sequences and accented rhythmic colourings during the many dramatic sforzandi in the course of descriptive writing and key changes. The 'Shrovetide Fair' sprung into life in full glory, while 'Petrushka's Cell' and The Moor's Quarters sent shivers down the spine. Finally, the Fair's reprise with its several offshoots leading to 'Petrushka's Death' became as declamatory as watching the whole ballet. I cannot imagine a finer performance [17 March 2007, John Keble Church, Edgware, London UK, given as part of the Hendon Music Society's 2006/7 International Concert Series] -- the first in living memory of the whole score, live for four hands on one piano. The lousy truncated Suite that Stravinsky wrote for various virtuosi to perform can now be suitably ignored!

Copyright © 7 May 2007 Bill Newman, Edgware UK






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