Something special, something exceptional

Richard Goode, Piano Recital, Snape Proms, Snape maltings Concert Hall, August 18

Sometimes a piano recital is the perfect musical experience. With a single person and their instrument as the sole focus of attention there is the possibility of enhanced rapport with an audience, the more so if the soloist has an obvious yet unforced authority.

The American pianist Richard Goode has established a secure and deserved reputation for his performances of the classical and romantic repertoire but he began this recital with the second and third Pavane and Galliard by William Byrd. Goode’s articulation was excellent and even if one felt that the pieces truly belonged to a harpsichord it was fascinating and instructive to hear them.

Bach’s substantial Partita No 6 was superbly performed, an immaculate technique married to a powerful intellectual authority that compelled attention. The clarity and dexterity of Goode’s playing that enabled the most complex movements to retain their purpose and comprehensibility was quite remarkable. The syncopations of the Courante and the noble calm of the quite heavily ornamented Sarabande remained in the memory.

Chopin’s 4 Mazurkas op 33 bought a welcome breeze of poetry and the composer’s Polonaise-Fantasy showed exemplary control of tone and a sure blend of lyricism and structure.

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Schubert’s last sonata is a peak of the overall piano canon as well as the composer’s own ouvre. With the repeat of the first movement exposition it is a long work but maintains a remarkably high standard of melodic and harmonic invention. Goode’s performance was excellent, noble and spacious in the first movement and rose to perfection in the closing passages of the Adagio as the volume died away and the ethereal harmonies finally settled. The finale can sound less inspired than the other movement’s but his light, airy approach made the music float along happily.

This was something special – I might say exceptional – and the rapt attention and enthusiastic response of the audience seemed to confirm it.

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Gareth Jones

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