Freddy Kempf Recital Review
24 years ago, the College purchased a beautiful new Steinway Concert Grand, which has graced the Memorial Hall stage ever since, providing listeners with hours of pleasure in the process. Perhaps not surprisingly after such use, the piano has come to the end of its life in this context and following a recent fundraising campaign a new Steinway will be purchased at the beginning of 2014.
So we said goodbye to an old friend but one couldn’t have imagined a better way to say farewell than a recital from the excellent British pianist Freddy Kempf, the last such recital on this piano. Kempf is a true master and he extracted every possible colour and character from the piano, in an at times breath-taking display of technical and musical wizardry. His programme was dramatic, powerful and intoxicating – one was constantly engaged and treated to a roller coaster ride of emotional and personal conviction, sealed with a lyricism and espressivo quality that was truly captivating. His choice of programme featured some heavyweights of the piano repertoire: Schumann Etudes Opus 13 and Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition to name but two, allowing Kempf to show he is a marathon runner, seemingly possessing endless reserves of energy to deliver such works without a hint of fatigue.
Despite Kempf’s consummate skill, however, one could not escape the fact that the tone of the piano (particularly in the upper register) is very much on the wane, so roll on 2014 and the arrival of a new friend who we hope will grace the stage with equal distinction for another 25 years – or perhaps even longer.