Live in the Cathedral

first_imgTo retain any credibility at all when talking about classical music, here’s a tip: call Rachmaninoff’s second piano concerto “Rach Two”. It’s a bit of a buzzword; it sounds like you know what you’re talking about. Jargon is three-quarters of all music snobbery, so go with it and you’ll be fine. Rach Two, then, is one of the most romantic pieces written for the piano, full of soaring leaps and impossible fingerwork, alternately brazen, gentle and moving. There’s a grandiose elegance too, and an emotional complicatedness that belies a few very simple themes. It is a beautiful piece, and soloist Will Stuart does it justice. His driven performance was full of feeling, retaining nonetheless the precision and musicality that the piece demands. He played with style and flair, a quickness that gave the concerto energy without rushing it: a youthful interpretation that didn’t sacrifice subtlety for vigour. The concerto is unusual in its emphasis on the orchestra, especially in the first movement, introducing as it does most of the main themes. Conductor Ben Woodgates gave an expanded Christ Church Orchestra an excellent tone, swelling under and around but not overtaking the piano’s notes. Christ Church Cathedral’s acoustics felt a little muffled, but that was probably due to the large and appreciative audience. Stuart’s was an accomplished performance that left a friend in tears: “it’s just so beautiful,” she said. And it really was. But to the bloke who farted just as the third movement began: time and a place, my friend. Time and a place.Adam Whitelast_img read more