Arts: Reckless Kevin

Classical: KEVIN KENNER; WIGMORE HALL, LONDON
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The Independent Culture
LAST SUNDAY, Kevin Kenner was the fourth of six pianists in the Wigmore Hall's autumn series celebrating the 150th anniversary of Chopin's death. The recitals are being broadcast on Radio 3 with introductions by Gordon Stewart.

Kenner is an American and a past winner of the Chopin Competition in Warsaw. He's a warm player with a deep sense of continuity. His slightly uncertain manner belies his musical security.

He started well, with the serenely poised B flat minor Nocturne, Opus 9, controlling perfectly a muted sonority in the left hand and an eloquent expressiveness in the right. That was followed by a very early Polonaise in F minor, and the mature, melancholy Polonaise in the same key, Opus 71. Then Kenner tripped tipsily through the three very brief Ecossaises and on into the frothy Souvenir de Paganini.

The most substantial piece in this first half was his own arrangement of the middle movement from the F minor Piano Concerto and Kenner managed it very convincingly.

After the interval he began with the great C minor Nocturne, Opus 48, which built up from a warm sostenuto to a state of elevated passion but, towards the end of the second Impromptu, left his left hand with a rather routine task of accompaniment.

Kenner brought off the three Opus 56 Mazurkas very convincingly though he could have given them a little more acute expressive pointing. He was better in the exquisitely fragile F minor Mazurka, Opus 64.

Finally came the one really big piece in the recital, the F minor Fantasy, which started with punctilious stealth before accelerating into an almost reckless state of elation, though this was frustrated by a slight feeling of haste.

Yet Kenner was never guilty of barnstorming - it's not in his nature. Why, then, he chose the stiff and boringly repetitive A major Polonaise, Opus 40, as an encore, beats me.

Adrian Jack

Next recital: Janina Fialkowska, Sunday 14 November at 4pm. Details: 0171-935 2141

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