Thursday, November 07, 2013

RIP Bernard Roberts (1933-2013)

This week the music world mourns one of Britain's best-loved pianists, Bernard Roberts, who has died at the age of 80. He was an infectiously lively and colourful performer, a brilliant and sensitive chamber musician (we used to hear him often in his trio with Manoug Parikian and Amaryllis Fleming), and a sought-after teacher, not least for his energetic masterclasses. Here is a vivid obituary from the Telegraph.

I well remember taking part in one that he gave at Dartington in 1984. He didn't like my Schubert, but I didn't want to play it the way he wanted me to (oh, youth...). He wanted some flexibility and a bit of up-tempo for a modicum of oomph. He was right. The trouble was that everything he told me was the diametric opposite of what my teacher at the time had said, which can be muddling if you're a teenager. He had explained, of course, in the nicest, most positive way, but I was upset and spent a good while pondering his advice, my own reaction and the underlying causes. I think it was as a direct result of that encounter that I decided to leave the teacher I was with and find someone less dogged and dogmatic, and ultimately ended up with the amazing Joan Havill.

Here he is playing the last movement of Beethoven's Op.109. Listen to that tone.