Friday, 25 September 2015

JONATHAN PLOWRIGHT Piano Recital / Rarities of Piano Music at Schloss vor Husum 2015

Thursday (27 August 2015)

British pianist Jonathan Plowright is a regular at Husum, where his breadth and depth of his enormous repertoire gets a sympathetic hearing. There were none of his Polish favourites on show this evening, which began with hyphenated Bach. Busoni and Siloti were not on the slate but instead, the likes of Granville Bantock, Herbert Howells, Constant Lambert, Eugene Goosens and Lord Berners. 

These were transcriptions of chorale preludes and short movements from the collection for Harriet Cohen (famed lady pianist who was the mistress of Arnold Bax), and in these were a wealth of surprising harmonies that ticked the ear, all performed with refinement and obvious love by Plowright.

What followed were hardly rarities, Brahms's Four Ballades Op.10, repertoire Plowright is working on in his ongoing Brahms cycle for BIS recordings. He produced a warm and burnished sound for the familiar favourites, comfortably overcoming the tricky bits of the  Second Ballade and conjuring a dreamy, hypnotic mood for the Fourth Ballade in B minor. In this quiet number, one could hear a counterpoint provided by the nesting migratory birds and ducks from the Schloss vor Husum moat, a famous and not unwelcome fixture of evening recitals here.

The only work in the second half will not be heard anywhere else outside of Husum, the piano transcription in 9 movements of Constant Lambert's ballet Horoscope. From the composer of The Rio Grande, this is a wonderfully crafted work comparable to Glazunov's ballet The Seasons and Gustav Holst's The Planets, just to name orchestral works with multiple movements. Lambert's is slightly more elusive, opening with a prelude (Palindrome) composed solely of a series of chords exploring different tonalities. 

The ensuing dances combined fast and slow numbers, with Leo being the obvious star among the stars. There is an element of the rough and ready in the writing, but the slow movements fared best in Plowright's hands, some music I will definitely want to hear again.

Encore time: Harold Craxton's neo-Baroque Sarabande and Rigaudon was tinged with interesting harmonies, and no one would have expected American band-leader Jack Fina's rumbling Bumble Boogie to follow. It was back to the sublime with Federico Mompou's Secreto (Secret) with more achingly beautiful harmonies.  

Give that man a beer!
Jonathan Plowright is toasted by
Peter Froundjian (left) and Ludwig Madlener (right).

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