Feb 7 2012 Perthshire Advertiser Tuesday
THE doyen of American pianists Richard Goode played a fascinating programme of Schumann and Chopin in Perth Concert Hall on Friday.
To describe Goode as American and a pianist is perhaps true, but his playing showed him to be much more – a complete musician: in him the aspects of thought and technical technique were thoroughly united.
His first half was devoted to two major works by Robert Schumann. He began with Kinderszenen (Scenes from Childhood) Op.15. In his hands these showed themselves to be miniatures only in length, the 13 pieces taking not many more minutes to perform. He opened up Schumann’s world right from the start of Of Strange Lands and People lyrically at home with the voicing of individual lines, their rhythms and combinations, above all the sense of fantasy. He showed nimbleness in Catch and encouraged a warm tone from the superb Perth Concert Hall piano in Happy Enough. He had a nice ceremonial touch for Important Event leading into a deeply felt Träumerei (Dreaming) where the melodies seemed unbound to the barlines. Here his vocalizations became noticeable, as with his later stamping, my only negative criticism. He was nicely playful in Knight of the Rocking Horse, with the deepest emotion kept for the envoi The Poet Speaks.
Kreisleriana Op.16 which followed had all of these virtues plus a touch of insanity, suitable for Hoffmann’s character Johannes Kreisler, the subject of these eight character pieces. It did have a mad start, but with a wonderful lyrical riposte the supporting harmonies well brought out. The third piece contrasted the rhythmic outer sections with a rolling legato where Schumann’s lines were beautifully integrated. The abrupt return emphasized darkness. The sixth piece began with chivalrous Romanticism, the seventh with almost psychotic rushing. All was vividly portrayed in this too rarely played work.
One of Charles Ives’ odder comments was that “we always tend to think of Chopin in a skirt.” Not as played by Richard Goode! In no way denying his insight and supreme sensitivity there was vigour and dramatic power. The Nocturne Op.55 No.2 was forthright and lyrical, but with too much light for a night piece, notwithstanding the sensitive fioriture at the end. The Scherzo No.3 had an ominous introduction to the dramatic main section. The big tune was exactly that, really impressive. There were intentionally disquieting passages and a hurtling coda leading to a tragic finish. The Ballade No.3 had equally strong playing, its central section playful yet with underlying grandeur, calling magnificent sounds from the instrument. Between these two were three waltzes all flighted with a nice lilt and sprung rhythms.
Recalled repeatedly to the platform he delighted his entranced audience with a Mazurka, Op.24 No.2, which glinted and flashed and, returning to Schumann, a piece from his Davidsbündlertänze of fine lyricism.