|A wave from |
The lights dimmed and onto the stage walked a gentleman in a perfect grey, striped, three piece suit. He bowed to the audience, looking for all the world like a banker from a by-gone era, one of those elegant if slightly stiff gentlemen common in the days when bankers were people you could trust. This was Peter Serkin, distinguished American pianist and son/grandson of distinguished musicians. Perhaps you need a persona and lineage like this to present a concert such as he presents, music that no one has heard before and which defies the 'normal' concert experience.
Serkin has a reputation for championing contemporary music but the pieces he chose to play last night looked to the past. The concert started with pre-baroque adaptations and music from an Elizabethan song-book. They seemed so simple but it look me some time to change tempo. I am sure the pieces and Serkin's slow, quiet and contemplative presentation was a very deliberate choice, designed to help us move from an over-busy and intellectualised world into a space where we could 'really hear' the works he presented.
I found myself wondering as the concert started whether I would have come had I known what was on offer and it was only during the second half of the concert, listening to pieces by Max Reger, Mozart and Beethoven that I realised Serkin's skill had given me a whole new ear. I had not previously heard the chosen Mozart and Beethoven pieces and as I listened I could feel my view of both composers changing. I felt as if I had previously only seen the surface view and that now I was suddenly able to delve much deeper. Mozart's Rondo in A minor was a revelation. The program notes say it is regarded as his most personal work and I can believe that. It is introspective, thoughtful and contemplative, but emotional at the same time. Beethoven's Sonata No 30 is similar.
I am so grateful to Peter Serkin for taking me to a place where I could really hear music I didn't know existed.