Perth Piano Sundays - Richard Goode

Share this with your friends

It's been a good Sunday so far.  I had a couple of glasses of wine and a chicken dinner at the bosses house, before strolling round to the Concert Hall for a quick coffee and a piano recital by American classical pianist Richard Goode. Richard was visiting as part of the Perth Piano Sundays season, which sees some of the worlds finest players visit the Fair City every month for this exceptional series of piano concerts on a Sunday afternoon.  If you're not lucky enough to have a boss on hand with a roast dinner then there is even a delicious carvery available beforehand.  After all, you don't want to disturb people with the sound of your stomach rumbling during the quieter passages.

I took my seat and was immediately struck by what a beautiful space the Perth Concert Hall stage is, particularly when you see it unadorned by drumkits, amplifiers and a PA system.  None of that was required this afternoon.  Just a Steinway grand piano, an attentive page-turner and a virtuoso pianist.  

Richard Goode took the stage to great applause and immediately launched into "Mozart's Piano Sonata in A minor" with its rousing left-hand bass part countered by a purer sounding lead creating a really beautiful sense of tension.  This tension was heightened by the fact that the lengths of phrases are often odd numbers like 3, 5 and even 7 bars rather than the more traditional 4 bar length.  

I'd never been to a piano recital before and didn't really know what to expect performance wise.  I think that perhaps part of me was expecting something a little bit stuffier and constrained but I was soon disavowed of that foolish notion.  Not only did Mr. Goode play beautifully and fluidly but he also communicated something visually in his performance and you could really see the enjoyment and love of the music flowing through his body.  He raised his left arm dramatically as a massive chord rang out on his right and you could see him mouthing the lead phrases almost singing them quietly to himself as he played.  From my seat, I had an excellent view of the pedals and it was even fascinating to watch his impeccably shiny black leather wingtips as they sustained and muted notes and chords.

Next up was a selection of pieces from "On the Overgrown Path" by Czech composer Leos Janacek which I think I enjoyed even more than the Mozart.  The first piece "Our evenings" like the earlier Sonata also had slightly discordant elements but ended up on a gentler but still somewhat unresolved footing.  The second piece was, according to the impeccably written and researched program, originally called "a declaration of love" but was re-titled "a blown-away leaf".  Maybe it was a case of trouble in paradise for poor old Leos?

Brahms's "Piano Pieces Op 118" saw another great musical and physical performance from Richard, his left hand travelling frantically under and over his right.  The final piece built to a crescendo and ended with the most heart-wrenching broken chord you've ever heard as it resonated beautifully around the auditorium.  

I don't know if it is the sad film geek in me but I kept hearing echoes of film scores in the pieces by the next composers Debussy's "Preludes, Book II".  Perhaps it's a sign that I saw "Star Wars" too many times as a child but I kept hearing its main theme during "Fairies are exquisite dancers".  Weirdly in the next piece "Heaths" I kept hearing the chords from Anton Karas "The Third Man Theme".  Either Hollywood composers loved a bit of Debussy or I'm cracking up!

Finally, we were treated to a glorious bit of Beethoven with his "Piano Sonata in A flat major".  A flat major was Beethovens 'soft' key which he often chose for the slow movements in works written primarily in C minor.  However, this is one of only two large-scale works with it as the main key.  As the Sonata progressed Richard began to lift his right hand as the bass line ascended, tracing the course of the notes like a butterfly in flight.  All too soon it is over but the applause was so uproarious that Richard returned for an encore, a breathtaking performance of "Sarabande" by Bach.  I guess that's the classical equivalent of "wan mair tune"!

See & Make Comments