Review: Richard Goode, Piano Recital, Snape Maltings, June 14

The piano was central to Schumann’s compositions and important for Debussy but the same cannot be said of Janacek, who today is remembered largely for his operas. To open his recital, Richard Goode played four pieces from Janacek’s ‘On an Overgrown Path’ with charm and conviction, making the most of these short pieces.

Schumann’s ‘Davidsbundlertanze’, written in 1837 is a substantial sequence of dances, ranging from energetic and extrovert to delicate and reflective. Much of the music shows the composer at his best but the work has never established itself in popularity alongside Papillons, Carnaval or the Symphonic Etudes, possibly because it lacks a big, memorable tune, despite its invention and variety. Goode played with commitment, fluency and delicacy and even if one or two of the dances were a little earth-bound there was much to savour and reflect on in the performance.

In his Preludes – and also the Images – Debussy was quite clear that he was attempting something quite different. Well known as the Preludes are, they never cease to amaze and delight listeners with their profound originality. Richard Goode displayed exemplary technique and superb clarity of melodic line. He conjured terrifying hurricanes in Le Vent d’Ouest and an almost overpowering sonority in La Cathedrale Engloutie. His quasi guitarra plucks of La serenade interrompue produced an authentic Spanish ambience and the sensuous sway of rhythm in Les Collines d’Anacapri was perfectly captured. In Des pas sur la neige Goode created a cold and compelling musical vista against the dragging footsteps in the snow and there was an almost elemental simplicity and charm to La Fille aux cheveux de lin. The lighter, swifter pieces, Le Vent dans la plaine, La Danse de Puck had an engaging sprightliness and charm and Minstrels rounded off the evening with a delicious burst of humour. An evening of fine piano music, very well played and warmly received.

Gareth Jones

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