Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Why is Faure like the No.28 bus?

Some good gigs in London this week.

The Wigmore Hall is enjoying a plethora of Faure. Tomorrow (Wendes) and Thursday, the fabulous Leopold String Trio and the delectable pianist Pascal Roge (his website is sensational!) are giving programmes that include the two Piano Quartets, one per night. On Sunday morning at 11.30 the ever-popular Coffee Concerts feature the Panocha Quartet from the Czech Republic with pianist and Faure editor Roy Howat, offering the first London performance of Roy's new edition of the Piano Quintet No.1. We could be in for some surprises there, as Roy has reached the end of a long battle with a French musicologist who was so outraged by his discoveries about the work's tempo indications (and, we expect, much more too) that he attempted to censor the entire effort out of existence...More details of Wigmore gigs here.

Wednesday is clearly the big day. While Pascal and the Leopolds are in full flight at the Wigmore, Tom's band, the LPO, is performing Mozart Symphony No.40 and the Rossini Stabat Mater at the Queen Elizabeth Hall - details and last few available seats here - and on Thursday they're off to Rome to do the same programme in the San Giovanni Cathedral.

Meanwhile, I shall be sloping off to the Barbican to hear the St Petersburg Philharmonic and Yuri Temirkanov who are currently touring the UK - Prokofiev Cinderella Suite, Rachmaninov Paganini Rhapsody and Brahms Second Symphony. The soloist in the Rachmaninov is a rather interesting youngster, Denis Matsuev, who is 30 and a Tchaikovsky Competition Winner (incidentally, a former pupil of the same legendary professor who taught Nikolai Lugansky pre-Tchaik Comp win). Will be intrigued to see if I enjoy his performance more than Lugansky's a year ago.

On Saturday at Cadogan Hall there's the final of the Pianist Magazine/Yamaha Piano Competition for Amateurs. Inspired by the success of the Van Cliburn similar set-up, an acolyte contest to the main competition, this one seems to have caught everyone's imagination and seven competitiors, including a piano tuner in his seventies and a financial manager from the City are going to battle it out on the Chelsea stage in front of 600 people plus Pianist editor Erica Worth and a jury including Martin Roscoe, Kathryn Stott and Jamie Cullum! Blimey. I don't know why they put themselves through it. I had quite enough trouble in front of Stephen Kovacevich and ten friends in his front room. Go, guys, go!!! Chase that dream! Read more about it here.

Out of town, the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and our very dear friend Marc-Andre Hamelin are touring Poole, Exeter and Southampton tomorrow, Thursday and Friday, playing - you guessed it - Faure! The Ballade, namely, which Marc is augmenting with the Falla 'Nights in the Gardens of Spain'. Full details here.What is it about Faure? Nothing for months and then everyone is at it at once.

That, in case you were wondering, is why Faure is like the No.28 bus, on which I used to rely too much when I lived in West Hampstead.