Thursday, 22 August 2019

MUSIC REVIEW: Chetham's Piano Festival: Recital by Peter Frankl and The Saul Quartet - The Stoller Hall, Manchester.

Peter Frankl returned to Chetham’s International Summer School and Festival for Pianists with a warm welcome. There was a great deal of buzz and anticipation around this concert, particularly from the younger audience members. Frankl is a renowned pianist with an extensive career and is currently Professor of Piano at Yale University.

Frankl opened with a suite of piano pieces by Schumann called 'Scenes From Childhood' (in German, 'Kinderszenen'.) This is a suite of 13 short pieces that are fairly light and varying in difficulty. Some are suited for children to play and some are more challenging.

Frankl captured a very nostalgic mood in his interpretation of these pieces with perfectly balanced lines that dripped with emotion. Schumann says he wrote them as his wife thought he was a bit childish at times, but these are not pieces that merely conjure up toys, games or teddy bears. There is also a deeper, reminiscent element which Frankl projected beautifully from the start.

The first piece, 'Of Foreign Lands And Places', seemed to be of a memory long ago. 'Dreaming' (Träumeri), possibly one of Schumann’s most famous pieces, was tenderly performed by Frankl as were 'Child Falling Asleep' and 'The Poet Speaks'.

This was an honest and deeply moving performance by Frankl.

The Saul Quartet was formed by former string students of Chetham’s School of Music who are currently studying at The Royal College of Music and The Royal Academy of Music. Together with Frankl they performed a reduced version of Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 11 in F. This was a beautifully crisp and clean performance, not without humour and the lightness of touch in this classical style was appreciated after the melancholy Schumann. Fritz clearly relished performing with this quartet and there was clear communication between the ensemble and soloist creating a dialogue between both rather than the former accompanying the latter.

A return to Schumann and his Piano Quintet provided an energetic and fun final piece for the evening. Far from the nostalgia of Kinderszenen, the Quintet was a playful piece which thoroughly allowed each musician to sing out. Fritz performed this, as all of the pieces, with great precision, clearly leading the ensemble. There were moments of beauty, particularly the canon towards the end of the fourth movement.

The audience were enthralled at every moment of this evening’s concert and the applause was extended for quite some time, much to Frankl’s surprise and deserved delight.

Reviewer - Aaron Loughrey
on - 20/8/19

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