Spencer Myer, Wigmore Hall, London
Monday 07 May 2012
As each new player joins the fray, one remembers the imbalance between the seven hundred pianists listed in the British Music Yearbook, and the thirty who make a decent living from concerts.
Newcomers must find their unique selling point, and when you’re a normal sort of guy with no distinguishing marks or disabilities – look what schizophrenia did for David Helfgott – that comes down to art. Spencer Myer’s CV suggests eight years well spent, following his first win in a South African piano contest: he’s toured indefatigably, become a professor, and accompanied singers, with his Wigmore debut being part of the spoils of victory from a competition in New Orleans. Since London is the classical-music capital of the world, and the Wigmore is chamber music’s Mecca, a gig there is the ultimate pianistic goal.
Myer’s programme was itself a showcase, offering an interesting mix of styles, and starting with a sonata by the original creator of that form, Joseph Haydn. Composed for Haydn’s pupil Princess Marie Esterhazy, the two-movement ‘Sonata in G major HXVI:40’ assumes a high degree of technical brilliance, plus an ability to extract comedy as the surprises are sprung. Myer brought to it a firm but flexible touch, and a nice feel for the architecture: it made a perfect appetiser before Debussy’s ‘Preludes pour piano - Book 1’ which constituted the main course.
Since these came courtesy of the same touch, we were short-changed on the mystery of ‘Danseuses de Delphes’ and on the misty suggestiveness of ‘Les sons et les parfums tournent dans l’air du soir’, but other gems in this collection emerged with vivid clarity. The way the wind blew across the plain and the footsteps silently appeared in the snow was beautifully evoked, while the submerged cathedral rose and sank majestically, as powered by the luxurious quality of Myer’s sound.
The rest of the evening was devoted to Liszt’s ‘Three Petrarch Sonnets’ – poetically delivered – and works by his two star pupils. The virtuosity of Albeniz’s ‘Iberia Book 4’ was superbly honoured, as were the extreme demands of Moszkowski’s ‘Caprice Espagnol’. After making the hardest things look easy, Myer played us out with a gentle Bach transcription, whose web of cantabile themes went at different speeds and cast a lovely spell. Myer is definitely a man to watch.
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Half of young women unable to ‘locate vagina’ and 65% find it difficult to say the word
- 2 Emma Watson on Jennifer Lawrence naked photo leak: 'Even worse than seeing women's privacy violated is reading the comments'
- 3 Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb
- 4 A teacher speaks out: 'I'm effectively being forced out of a career that I wanted to love'
- 5 Mexican woman becomes world’s 'oldest person' at 127
Scottish independence referendum: Franz Ferdinand, Mogwai and Frightened Rabbit to play in support of Yes campaign
Jessica Chastain demands Scarlett Johansson-fronted Marvel superhero movie
Downton Abbey series 5 start date revealed: ITV drama to return in late September
Nicki Minaj suffers wardrobe malfunction during MTV VMAs performance with Ariana Grande and Jessie J
Olivia Colman and Mary Berry top Radio Times' female power list
Rotherham child sex abuse scandal: Labour Home Office to be probed over what Tony Blair's government knew - and when
What do immigrants really think of Britain? Polish immigrant's Reddit post goes viral
Ashya King: Parents of five-year-old boy refused permission to visit him in hospital and denied bail at Spanish court
With Douglas Carswell joining Ukip, my party has taken another giant step forward
When elitism grips the top of British society to this extent, there is only one answer: abolish private schools
Ashya King: 'Cruel NHS has not given us the treatment we need', says father of five-year-old with brain tumour who fled to Spain