Concert Review

Artur Pizarro (piano) Copland, Gershwin, Griffes & Barber Wigmore Hall, 12 November 1999

This was a very peculiar recital, indeed virtually two different recitals, each side of the interval. A popular Leeds 1st prizewinner, fresh from triumphs at the Blackheath pianoworks99 Festival (see S&H review, October 99) Artur Pizarro appeared in a loose, colourful shirt, looking appropriately relaxed for a programme of lighter American music, if unusually so at the august Wigmore Hall. But he seemed ill at ease in Aaron Copland's piano transcription of Rodeo, suffering a page-turning mishap at the very beginning, loud and splashy in the vigorous sections. One wondered why, for a Wigmore Hall appearance, he had not chosen one of Copland's marvellous works written expressly for the piano?

Artur Pizarro remained bound by the printed score in a long fantasy on Porgy and Bess songs, arranged by the veteran American virtuoso, Earl Wild. Again, an odd choice. This programme and presentation would have been acceptable in a more informal setting, for example at Cabot Hall at Canary Wharf, where concerts are often given with drinks brought to the table. At Wigmore Hall it all seemed wrong, and he belied the expectation that this repertoire might be addressed with transcendental pianism.

He redeemed himself fully in the second half. Charles Griffes's infrequently heard Four Romantic Sketches Op 7 (1915-16) were interpreted with subtlety, their impressionistic washes of colour very alluring. Something of that feeling passed over to Samuel Barber's neo-romantic sonata (1949) in which expressiveness and tone colour predominated over energy and assertive pianism, which is often given to this piece. It left us with renewed admiration for Artur Pizarro's beauty of tone and way of shaping a melody, a particular hallmark of this sensitive musician.

Peter Grahame Woolf

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