In his recital, Philip Garson set out to scale some major peaks of the Romantic piano repertoire. It was a rewarding expedition, if never likely to be an easy one for either performer or audience!
Robert Schumann, composer of Kreisleriana, wrote to Clara that he was "overflowing with music and beautiful melodies", describing his own work as "eloquent and from the heart". Philip's performance of the fourth section struck me as particularly moving, the music taking us to the very edge of the abyss (where it comes to a complete stop for what feels an age) before the sweetest of melodies pulls us back to a temporary refuge.
After the interval we continued our mountain journey via Beethoven to Albeniz. Evocacion and El puerto were beautifully delivered but with Triana the technical challenges did start to intrude on the fluency of Philip's playing and it was a slight relief to reach the downhill slopes of Chopin's ballades. Philip is a lifelong fan of Chopin's music and his deep understanding of it shone through in the cascading notes of the 4th Ballade which brought the scheduled programme to an end. Philip then returned to the piano to leave us with a dance by Granados, putting a cherry atop the icing!
So, an evening of magnificent and challenging repertoire and, if the performance was not entirely flawless, it was one that reached deep into the Romantic heart and mind. Thank you Philip for taking us on such a journey!
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