Richard Goode, Royal Festival Hall
Monday 13 February 2012
The American pianist Richard Goode doesn’t
give many recitals, but his uniquely personal vision ensures that each one is
This befits a musician who waited until he was nearly fifty before conquering the stage-fright which had confined him to chamber music, and then taking the plunge as a soloist. His Brahms and Beethoven are magisterial, but what draws the crowd is his singular aura, and the intensely-pondered quality of his playing.
Here he opened with Schumann’s Kinderszenen, thirteen short pieces in which the world of childhood is evoked from the perspective of maturity, with the intention of conveying, as Schumann put it to his young bride Clara, an atmosphere which was ‘peaceful, tender, and happy, like our future’. And so it was as Goode launched into the first piece, ‘Of strange lands and people’. He made the piano sing with a sweet artlessness, establishing an intimate and confidential tone which he then maintained throughout. ‘Important event’ felt important only in a play-acting sense, ‘Reverie’ was not over-dramatised, and the rocking-horse knight rode out bravely; ‘Child falling asleep’ suggested folds within folds, and in the concluding ‘The poet speaks’ that poet was indubitably Goode himself. The keyboard was touched rather than struck, and the tone wonderfully controlled.
Then came the Kreisleriana suite, a more showy and extravert work, but with Goode this too had a lovely subtlety. He opened extremely fast, projecting a relatively small sound with such expressiveness that one seemed to be hearing this complex work for the first time; conceiving its episodic structure in very long spans, he gave it unusual cohesion. A stumble prevented him giving its most pyrotechnical section full rein, but the overall effect was fascinating.
For his second half Goode chose Chopin, and adopted a completely different touch: while his Schumann had been suggestive and inward, here he was up-front. But not enough. If there were no false histrionics in his performance of the third Scherzo, neither was there the requisite showmanship, and the piece felt seriously underpowered; he seemed to take no delight in the passage-work which is the key to this majestic music. And his final big piece – Ballade No 3 in A flat major – simply wasn’t big enough in its conception. First encore, a Chopin Mazurka; second encore, more Schumann, and exquisite.
Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'music
Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Scottish independence results live: Reunited kingdom - Scotland gives a clear 'No' in historic referendum
- 2 Scottish referendum results: David Cameron set to unveil major devolution of powers to England
- 3 iOS 8 is full of shiny new features - but it's terrible news for app developers
- 4 Scottish independence: Tory revolt against 'devo max' grows as Rail Minister Claire Perry joins
- 5 Hitler’s former food taster reveals the horrors of the Wolf’s Lair
Game of Thrones star Maisie Williams cast in Channel 4 drama about cyber bullying
Downton Abbey: Liam Neeson wants role as stableman in period drama
Star Wars 7 leaked photo of Adam Driver changes everything
The Walking Dead season 5 synopsis: Spoilers and existential questions revealed
Friends 20th anniversary: Six things we wouldn't have without influential comedy series
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Russia freezes Ukraine into submission: Kiev admits country doesn't have enough fuel for winter
Scottish independence: The Queen breaks silence on referendum debate – as think tank warns of £14bn black hole if Scotland votes Yes
Portuguese academic says British are 'filthy, violent and drunk'