Sunday, August 19, 2007

Olli Mustonen / Ratatouille / Piano Duo

Horrible wet day. Another 3 events, more piano...and rats! Bondi didn't get much outdoors fun today, so stayed in begging pizza from my flatmates' friends.

Event #22: Olli Mustonen - piano recital

Muscular peformances of 7 pieces from Schumann's Album für die Jugend and the Gesänge der Frühe Op133, Bach's Three-part inventions BWV787-801, a self-penned work, and Prokofiev's Sonata No.6. My allocated seating in the Queen's Hall was a mixed blessing. Although positioned over the keyboard side of the stage, you can barely see the piano when sitting normally; hunched over the rail between rows, I was able to stare over Mustonen's right shoulder, noting his peculiar mannerism of raising right hand high, bunching his fingers like a quivering claw and then punching into the keyboard.

The opening Schumann may have been written for younger pianists, but the couple who brought their 4-5yr old son found that it alternately stimulated (humming and chatting along to the music) and bored ( loudly chewing on sweets given to shut him up ) their charge. It must have taken half an hour of concerted expelliarmus charms before the brat was taken outside.

Mustonen's own work I didn't really care for, although he's obviously spent some time reworking it since this is the UK premiere of its piano rearrangement from the original guitar and then orchestral versions. Followed by Prokofiev's steely piano sonata, the last one the composer premiered himself, it quickly faded from memory.

Event #23: Ratatouille

I asked Robbie if I should be surprised at crying in a movie about rats. He asked "Ben? Willard? The Secret of Nimh? they're all three-hanky jobs." Ah yes, but in the these did a rat learn to cook people before he started chewing on them? And that is Pixar's gift: making a rat's diet palatable to old and young.

Event #24: Piano Duo

Nearly all my piano events seem to have been scheduled for this week. Between Mustonen's 11am and this evening's spousal pairing of Margaret Wakeford and Simone Coverdale, I've had the best of them. In an engaging program with occasional spoken introductions, they traversed not only standard four-hand fare like the Debussy Petit Suite, but also more offbeat works by Florent Schmitt, a Bach prelude & fugue arrangement and Philip Lane's Badinages, a very witty homage to Lord Berners.
They concluded with a new four-hand arrangement of Eric Coates' Calling All Workers by Dick Lee, who was present to take credit for the fun.

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