The Editor has urged contributors not to shirk their
responsibilities. He 'does not believe in stifling opinion' and has
requested from me a review of a recent concert in James Lisney's
series at the Purcell Room, 'no matter how short, nor how negative'.
It had provided neither pleasure nor satisfaction, Mr Lisney's playing
of Mozart and Schubert was less than engrossing, and my reaction is
in accord with the only other published review I saw. I had previously
than totally captivated by another of the Schubertreise concerts,
in which Emma Kirkby sung songs by Amy Beach. I found them unsuitable
for this favourite early music specialist's voice and have failed also
to be able to enthuse about Beach or Kirkby in their CD of the same
repertoire released soon afterwards (BIS CD 1245).
My usual practice in those circumstances is to preserve a diplomatic
silence, and hope that another reviewer might take over; horses for
courses. When space is at a premium, 'spiking' is of course usual, but
this does not apply to websites and some artists are, understandably,
hungry for reviews from which, hopefully, useful quotes may be gleaned.
I am prompted by another disappointment to respond
to the Editor's request after all. I have regularly championed South
East London's Blackheath Halls, the profile of which has been raised
by a generally admirable Sunday Morning series, which attracts large
audiences at prices up to £15. Last Sunday's however really didn't warrant
the effort of getting up and out on a fine spring day, and back indoors
to take a chance with unknown musicians; all those factors conspired
to reduce the attendance drastically. Paul Reeves, ex-Guildhall
and with Glyndebourne's The Last Supper in his CV, seemed unready
for recital, his bass voice weak in the lower register, unmodulated
for the Recital Room, intonation unreliable and insufficient finesse
for Mozart or the Serious Songs of Brahms; bad choices for openers.
Things began to improve for Tchaikovsky, but plummeted in a strident,
unseductive Don Juan's Serenade, raucous singing capped by the insensitive
accompanying of Yuval Zorn, an Israeli graduate in piano and conducting,
who seemed not to have studied the hall's acoustic or to have spent
time becoming familiar with the Blackheath Bösendorfer.
Would readers prefer to be spared negative reviews,
or are they wanted to keep a balance?
Peter Grahame Woolf
The next Schubertreise concert is Saturday 11 May with
The Coull Quartet & James Lisney in Schubert's Sonata D 575
and the two Dvorak Piano Quintets.
Next weekend at Blackheath, Fiona MacNaught and Daniel Tong will be
giving the complete Beethoven sonatas for violin and piano. Details
of Blackheath Sundays are at www.blackheathhalls.com