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Chopin 200th Anniversary Concert


Piano Trio in E major K. 542
Ballade No. 4 in F minor Op. 52
Scherzo, Largo & Finale of the Cello Sonata in G minor Op. 65
Mazurkas (arranged as songs by Pauline Viardot)
Fantaisie in F minor Op. 49
Berceuse in D flat Op. 57
Barcarolle in F sharp Op. 60


London Mozart Trio
Evelyne Berezovsky piano
Jamie Walton cello & Daniel Grimwood piano [pictured]
Alison Pearce soprano & David Syrus piano
Piers Lane piano

Wigmore Hall, 9 March 2010

This Chopin Society UK event (the 15th Annual Jacqueline Du Pré Charity Concert) featured works from Chopin’s last Paris and St. James’s Square concerts of 1848, and made for a fascinating evening in which we were able to hear five pianists on the Wigmore Hall Steinway.

Mozart's E major Piano Trio was a favourite of Chopin's and it received a stirling account from Colin Stone and colleagues; clarity of articulation and just enough rhythmic inflection kept one engrossed. The rest was Chopin's own music. Student pianist Evelyne Berezovsky displayed achievement and great promise in the 4th Ballade, with bravura and accuracy, lovely tone and expressive rubato slowing, but not quite enough compensatory "paying back"; but maybe she is a follower of Cortot? He didn't espouse that principle and said "Rubato does not mean 'borrowed'. Theft is implied and it is a very poor thief indeed who promptly returns everything". In the strenuous passages, her left hand was inclined to be dominant, a choice I thought.

Jamie Walton and Daniel Grimwood are famous recording partners and gave superbly inflected accounts of most of the Chopin cello sonata (which Walton had recorded with Charles Owen) - the first movement was omitted, as in the 1848 concert. One small regret, that for this occasion Wigmore Hall didn't (couldn't afford to?) bring in a period piano. To savour the huge difference that makes, do get Grimwood's marvellous Liszt CDs, recorded on an Erard.

The only novelty in the concert, and a winning one, was a group of three Chopin Mazurkas arranged as songs by Pauline Viardot with "the sort of ornamentation and improvisation that someone like Chopin would have added to his works when he himself performed them" [Rose Cholmondeley]. Above David Syrus' suave renderings of the mazurkas themselves, Alison Pearce put across the vocal embellishments with great flair, and delighted the audience with her command of the platform and how she deployed her amazing concert gown with its enormous shinng gold sleeves...

Planned to climax the concert were three of Chopin's most important single movement works, the Fantaisie, Berceuse and Barcarolle. Sadly, after a delicately etched rendering of the slow introductory pages, Piers Lane's account of the Fantasie fell apart, and he was clearly not at his remembered best, nor did he really redeem himself in the Barcarolle. Fitting in gala appearances and making time to prepare for them can be difficult...

However, the burgeoning variations of the lovely cradle song had been conveyed with pellucid clarity and the evening as a whole was one which honoured memories of Jacqueline Du Pré appropriately and imaginatively.

Peter Grahame Woolf

See review of Piers Lane in Dvorak