Leighton Buzzard Music Club: Richard Uttley

LBMC’s ‘season’ runs from September of each year round to the following May, with concerts at roughly monthly intervals. This is my review for the first concert of the current season.

28 September, 2011

Rejoice! LBMC’s new season got underway on Saturday last (24th September). LBMC like to begin with a piano recital. And you may remember (if you’ve read these reviews before) that they have ways of bringing precocious young talents to Leighton Buzzard. Bring those two factors together and presto!: on stage is Richard Uttley, winner of last year’s prestigious Haverhill Sinfonia International Soloists’ Competition.

I must have had an unfortunate Bachian experience as a child – one so traumatic that I have wiped it from my memory. Suffice it to say my heart sank when I saw in the programme that the first section of the evening was two pieces by J S Bach. Oh dear. But instead of the relentless, long twiddly bits I was expecting this was Bach made melodic, with light and shade, with dynamics and variation where one had feared there would be wodges of metronomic notes. So: two Preludes and Fugues of expressive Bach later I was warming nicely to Mr Uttley.

Beethoven followed; the Sonata No 7 in D being quintessential Beethoven at his flashy best – a lovely vehicle for a young pianist. Richard explained that the ‘Presto’ explores a falling and rising scale, including musical jokes, so nicely pointed up that even I got them. The ‘Largo e mesto’ of the second movement was a tiny opera in a doleful, magisterial sort of lullaby form which broke into positively Bachian ripples of notes during the happy ending. The ‘Menuetto Allegro’, the third mini-movement, left one exhilirated, desperate to burst into applause – which, of course, would have been awfully infra dig. Fortunately the final ‘Rondo Allegro’, with its throwaway finale, delivered us to a similar place.

To complete the first half of the programme we were treated to Liszt’s arrangment of Wagner’s ‘Liebestod’ aria from Tristan and Isolde. As Stephen Fry says, no matter what you think of Wagner’s politics the man sure could write a tune. Here was emotional angst distilled, and we floated out for interval drinkies having been wrung dry.

The second half of the programme was lighter. Chopin’s Five Mazurkas, Op 7  was a lovely vehicle for Mr Uttley, who has a delicate touch that caresses what he wants from the piano, whether he’s creating a sarabande, a murmuring bass line, an exciting crescendo or a moment of limpid stillness. Debussy’s Images, Book 1 was similarly fruitful ground for him; being three lyrical little pieces with lightly sparkling, liquid motifs: espressivo!

The penultimate scheduled item, Three Mazurkas, Op 27  by Thomas Adès – a young composer still very much alive – presented more of a challenge for the listener. For the first time, Mr Uttley propped some music on the stand – but barely glanced at it. In these much more modern mazurkas there were still echoes of Chopin, sometimes sarcastic or funny. The first mazurka was slightly tipsy, the next stuffed completely full of trills. The third was poetic and mournful, despite the form. This was syncopated, minor-ish, spiky – very different from the lush, romantic music of Chopin and Debussy. It was a marionette with tangled strings, Rosinante having thrown a shoe. It’s always a treat to be introduced to new music.

Finally we returned to safer ground with the much-loved Polonaise in A flat, Op 53 by Chopin. Declamatory, exuberant, it adores the whole world and doesn’t care who knows it. It wasn’t, however, on this musical high that we wafted contentedly out into the balmy September night, but on Beethoven’s simple, elegaic Moonlight Sonata played for us as an encore. Remember you heard it here first: Richard Uttley will go far.

LBMC’s next concert is on 15th October in Leighton Buzzard Theatre and it’s a complete departure from their usual fare: the Temperance Seven are coming! It’s sure to be a sell out, so get your tickets soon. See LBMC’s website for details of how to do that.

Judi Moore

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Published by Judi Moore

Hi there, I hope you find something to interest you here. In December 2017 I published my fourth book – ‘Wonders will never cease’. It’s a satirical campus novel set in the fictional Ariel University in 1985. If you enjoyed Tom Sharpe’s Porterhouse novels, Willy Russell’s ‘Educating Rita’, David Lodge’s campus novels or Malcolm Bradbury’s ‘The History Man’ back in the day, you may enjoy revisiting the ivory towers of 1980s’ academe thirty years on. See what you think. “It is December, 1985. The year is winding gently towards its close until Fergus Girvan, a Classicist at Ariel University, finds his research has been stolen by the man who is also seeking to steal his daughter. But which man is, actually, the more unscrupulous of the two? And is there hope for either of them?” In the autumn of 2015 I published a volume of short fiction: 'Ice Cold Passion and other stories'. I am also the author of novella 'Little Mouse', a shortish piece of historical fiction which I published in 2014 and, a sequel to it, 'Is death really necessary?', my eco thriller set in the near future and which, confusingly, I published in 2009. All the books are available from all good online bookshops and FeedARead on paper, and as e-books on Kindle. On a semi-regular basis, and about a month after the event, I post here reviews which I do for Big Al & Pals, the premier reviewer of indie books, based in the States. My interests tend to thrillers, SF, magic realism and other quirky stuff. On this blog are also posted the reviews I did for Leighton Buzzard Music Club over some five years up to the end of 2015. LBMC present annual seasons of eight monthly chamber music concerts at the Library Theatre in Leighton Buzzard, Bucks. They select young musicians just beginning to make their name - and the concerts are usually magnificent. I was very proud to be associated with them. I review other music, books, theatre and exhibitions which I've particularly enjoyed. BTW - it says the link to Facebook is broken. I dispute that. Click it and see, why not?

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