We welcomed BBC Musician of the Year 2010, Lara Melda, to Breinton on Saturday 13 April for a solo piano recital. She came with an exciting programme of Bach, Chopin, Debussy and Liszt and we had a record 60 guests who, amazingly, all arrived on time and were ready for the 7.30pm start!
Bach's Prelude and Fugue, each written in each of the 12 major and minor keys, offer a wide range of styles. It is unlikely that Bach intended for these pieces for concert performance, but they make a simple and smooth introduction at the start of a recital. And, both Mozart and Beethoven are known to have played them! Lara's choices, No. 4 in C sharp minor and No. 5 in D major, were well contrasted pieces and indeed were a good introduction to the programme that followed.
Her Chopin choices included two etudes, two nocturnes and a scherzo and I enjoyed all of them. What surprised me was that I still made some new discoveries in these familiar pieces which I must have heard many different times by different performers. Lara's interpretations were quite distinctive with a different emphasis, accent and focus from that I've been used to hearing; therefore, she sounded very fresh to my ears.
The Etudes were programmed cleverly, the C minor being a left hand study and the F major, the right hand. These etudes should be classified as much more than 'œstudies' as they are all beautiful and lyrical and have far more to offer than just mere finger exercises! I particularly liked the Etude in C minor. I thought it was played very thoughtfully. The greatest challenge lies with the fast and relentless left hand semiquavers but what I loved was how the right hand octaves and chords were played with extra care and sophistication. This was the moment I had goose bumps on my arms!
When the nocturnes were played, we could hear birds tweeting in the background. This was such a serene moment, one wouldn"t expect any more than that.
In Debussy"s first piece Les sons et les parfums tournent dans lair du soir, I saw a complete change in her keyboard touch; it became very subtle and sensitive. It was such a lovely piece which carried a dreamy evening atmosphere, perfect for our soiree! Les collines dÃnacapri was fun, a bit jazzy and manipulative. Minstrels was played comically and cheekily.
Liszt"s Concert Paraphrase on Rigoletto after Verdi was grand. I think many of Liszt"s transcriptions are stunning. His ability and creativity to turn full orchestral and vocal works into piano transcriptions without losing the goodness of the original melody and harmonies (often making them even better!) is just astonishing. Rigoletto after Verdi is definitely one of those fine examples, such an operatic piece.
Her programme consisted of short pieces by four different composers. This offered a variety of styles and textures and kept us focused. We had an unusually high number of young children attendees and I am sure many saw Lara as a "role model" figure and a real life example of success.
Hugely talented at her young age, Lara is now in the first year at the Royal College of Music in London. She has amazing focus, undisturbed concentration, many ideas and enormous will to perform. She is still a developing and exploring musician; with guidance from her teacher and support from her experienced agent, I am sure she will flourish further. And we can all look forward to that!