Splendid beginning to Leighton Buzzard Music Club’s 67th season

This appeared in the Leighton Buzzard Observer 2 October 2012 edition. I post it here for anyone who missed it – or who’s interested in catching future concerts. Full details of what’s coming up on LBMC’s website,  link here : http://www.lbmusic.co.uk/

“LBMC began their new Season in glorious style on the 22nd of September with a recital by Korean pianist Jong-Gyung Park. She came courtesy of the Haverhill Sinfonia International Soloists’ Competition, which she won last year.
What a wonderful array of musical talent S Korea is exporting. And what a healthy ‘classical’ music scene exists when talent such as Ms Park’s graces the stage of Leighton Buzzard Library Theatre!
Ms Park is petite and gently smiling, with delicate and expressive hands which belie a great deal of physical strength, and tremendous musicianship. She plays without music and with eyes closed. She crouches tenderly or tigerishly over the piano as the composition demands, her feet often dancing on and off the pedals. Her programme was delightfully varied, not to mention technically demanding. It flitted and sipped among four of the great composers of the past 250 years: Mozart, Schubert, Debussy and Liszt.
First we enjoyed Mozart’s nine tiny ‘Variations in D on a Minuet by Duport’, (K 573) containing fire and trills, limpid and gently flowing melodies, theatricality, and finally a broad, bold restatement of the theme. These demanding pieces were written as a virtuoso display of talent and technique. Every embellishment imaginable is introduced at some point. Ms Park relished them all and we enjoyed it thoroughly.
Schubert’s ‘Drei Klavierstucke’ (D946) occupied the remainder of the first half. Again, these three pieces require masterly technique. In places they break, what was then, new ground harmonically. ‘No 1 in E flat minor (allegro assai)’ opens urgently, pleadingly; runs and trills abound, executed lightly and brightly. The beautiful melodies flowed from Ms Park’s fingers like the song of a thrush – and apparently effortlessly. Finally the original theme returned, like an old friend whom one is always pleased to see. ‘No 2 in E flat (allegretto)’ was gentler – a child’s lullaby perhaps. Now a wilder section growled ominously in the bass, with a little optimism retained in the right hand. The two figures tussled. Now the lilting lullaby hasreturned, but becomes as busy as a mouse in the skirting. At last the lullaby restates one last time – almost mournfully now as it leaves us. ‘No 3 in C (allegro)’ began fiery before becoming a chordal, pastoral dance. There was sternness in the finale, and wondrous expression. Ms Park played with her whole being, body and soul.
The second half began with Debussy’s ‘Images, Book 2’. It’s hard to credit now that this music provoked ‘bafflement and fierce discussion’ when it was first head. Now we find Debussy thoroughly romantic, but back in 1907 it was a different story.
The hypnotic ‘Bells’ was a welter of tumbling notes, evoking French church bells on a Sunday morning. ‘The Moon sets above the Ruined Temple’ cast a different spell, teasing out a poetry of sound. At the end the audience collectively caught its breath. In the final piece, ‘Gold Fish’, the fishes darted and played. The three pieces exemplified Debussy’s contention that words are static, lame ways to express certain ideas. As a writer I do, indeed, feel the restriction of trying to express in words what he created for Ms Park to play. But one soldiers on!
Finally we enjoyed three pieces from Liszt’s ‘Deuxieme Annee de Pelerinage, Book 2: Venezia e Napoli’. These were ‘Gondoliera’, ‘Canzone’ and ‘Tarantella’. This was darker music. Liszt caught the Italian mood of flashing eyes, vendetta and drama, and Ms Park brought it out physically as well as musically. She showed us joy, angst, pain. Whatever the music desired to communicate we felt, through her playing. This sort of empathic performance is one of the strongest arguments I can think of for keeping music live and getting out to concerts.
Applause was warm and prolonged and as our reward we were treated to ‘Berceuce’ by Chopin. In contrast to all that had gone before this tiny, quiet, simple gem left us replete and complete. Bravissima, Ms Parks!


2 Responses to “Splendid beginning to Leighton Buzzard Music Club’s 67th season”

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