piano Wilton's Music Hall 6.30 16 June 2003
Tell me the truth about love
Wilton's Music Hall 9.00 16 June 2003
Not a great evening for a first visit to Wilton's Music Hall for two events in this year's Spitalfields Festival - On The Move whilst Spitalfields Church is undergoing restoration.
Leslie Howard played his Mozart/Liszt recital from a well stocked memory but seemed to be on semi-automatic pilot. The Mozart variations were stolid and dull and the sonata mostly rushed through with no new insights to be heard en route (to restore my confidence in how well they can sound on modern piano, I returned to my bench-mark Tudor recording; Gilbert Schuchter shows how do them on a Bösendorfer). The Lacrimosa sounded well in Liszt's transcription but the third version of his Huguenots Réminiscences (Howard has recorded them all in his 95 Liszt CDs for Hyperion) is a meretricious monster, which brought predictable acclamation after its noisy ending despite many a splash on the way.
How much preparation do famous artists allocate for such events as this, compared with the hundreds of hours devoted to preparing for an hour's recital by, say, a pianist on the way up like Alison Luz?
I had been inclined to pity Howard for a recalcitrant Steinway,
but it proved a different instrument under Jonathan Doves
sensitive fingers. His cabaret show with Nuala Willis (the
adorable holiday romancer jilted in Flight)
made an undemanding, pleasing enough hour - but one had had to wait
1½ hours for it.
© Peter Grahame Woolf