Friday, 25 September 2015

MARTIN JONES Piano Recital / Rarities of Piano Music at Schloss vor Husum

MARTIN JONES Piano Recital
Wednesday (26 August 2015)

It would appear that the British pianist Martin Jones and the festival of Piano Rarities at Schloss vor Husum were made for each other, but it comes as a surprise that this is his debut. His programming was classic Jones (if one is familiar with his many CD recordings on the Nimbus label) meets classic Husum (if one is familiar with the selections that appear annually on the Danacord label).

Jones spoke before each piece, with typically British humour, and warmed up the audience immediately. First off was Carl Czerny's Grand Caprice, he with his multitudes of notes but a surprisingly congenial work that was a transitional link between the styles of Beethoven (gruff and pathetique) and Mendelssohn (songs without words) but cast in the form of Schubert's Wanderer Fantasy (4 linked movements with a fugue near the end). 

Its foil was a Sonatina by the Viennese Hans Gal, highly tonal but spiced with the mild dissonances of the early to mid-20th century. In between were 13 piquant pieces from Federico Mompou's Ballet, filled with his typically luscious harmonies and equally delicious pauses.

Despite his prolific recorded output, Jones has never enjoyed the reputation of super-virtuosos with catholic tastes like Hamelin, Hough or Hamish Milne. He is not as exacting in getting in all the notes with microsecond precision, but somehow he gets there in a way that is totally engaging, and no way was he less than committed in this recital. 

He has an improvisatory air in pieces which need that kind of expression, and that came across winningly in the dances by Argentine Carlos Guastavino and Spaniard Joaquin Nin's Message a Debussy, the latter commanding an orchestral texture and the Spanish lilt that possess the Frenchman's music. To close was Percy Grainger's suite In A Nutshell, four varied movements that captured the Australian's folksy style yet extraordinary ear for harmonies. The Pastorale was filled with colour while the Gumsuckers March brought the recital to a rousing end.

The encores: Mischa Levitzki's The Enchanted Nymph was a perfect bis for the evening, a languorous legato that transformed into an infectious waltz before returning to its watery realm, now with a gilded edge. Jones wasn't done yet. Moszkowski's Etincelles (a Horowitz specialty) was followed by Earl Wild's transcription of Fascinatin's Rhythm, and to conclude, Arcadi Volodos's  manic way with Mozart's Turkish Rondo. A wild standing ovation, apparently a relative rarity at Husum too, was the just and totally deserved response.       

Martin Jones meets his audience for
post-concert supper at Hartmann's Landk├╝che.

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