The late Patric Standford may have written these short pieces deliberately to provoke our feedback. If so, his success is reflected in the rich range of readers' comments appearing at the foot of most of the pages.
Derby's live music scene is slowly getting back together again, and this recital [on 11 June 2021] launched a new series of Friday lunchtime concerts in the Cathedral. Ukraine-born pianist Ivan Hovorun put together a quirky salute to romantic piano virtuosity.
The Chaconne in G minor attributed to violinist and composer Tomaso Antonio Vitali (1663-1745) - but whose authorship has been strongly disputed - was once a favourite violin showpiece, filtered through layers of nineteenth-century extravagance. Hovorun has based his transcription on the version for violin and piano by the Belgian violinist Léopold Charlier (1867-1936). His playing clearly differentiated the individual variations, with some glittering upper keyboard finger-work, while maintaining a feel for the overall shape. I do find, though, that romantic grand gestures applied to baroque music are apt to be self-defeating.
Does the Adagio from Beethoven's Hammerklavier Sonata work as a stand-alone piece? I'm not convinced; I was waiting for that extraordinary opening to the finale to follow. But on its own terms this was an engrossing performance, bringing out the brief passages that seem to pre-echo Chopin. The quiet moments, particularly, including the ending, were sensitively done.
Liszt made a number of Wagner transcriptions, the Overture to Tannhäuser being a particularly flamboyant example. In Hovorun's reading the opening march was surprisingly slow; these pilgrims were obviously in no hurry to get to Rome. But there's no denying his abundant technique - the swirling figuration round the March's reprise seemed totally secure. I say 'seemed' because, given that the Cathedral's acoustic is apt to be swimmy, here as elsewhere detail tended to be lost, to the point where I wondered if it would have been better to have had the piano lid down.
Copyright © 16 June 2021