Marlborough College Concert Series prides itself on presenting ‘World Class Musicians in Marlborough’. It’s a bold statement, but having witnessed the piano recital given by Peter Donohoe in the Memorial Hall on Sunday evening, that promise is unequivocally true.
Donohoe was born in 1953 which makes him 70 years young this year. I have had the pleasure of listening to his playing for over 45 years in a variety of different mediums, and this recital was as good as ever – in fact, I’d actually go further – it was simply marvellous. There was an almost youthful freshness about the performance, perfectly complimented by his technical mastery, the latter being a hallmark of Donohoe’s extraordinary career.
Busoni was a feature of the first half, with his full blooded arrangement of Bach’s organ masterpiece Toccata and Fugue in D minor opening the programme. Busoni’s own Variations on a theme of Chopin followed, acting as a bridge towards the final work in the first half, Chopin’s majestic Sonata No.2. There was admirable colour, texture and sublime control throughout from Donohoe and some imaginative and clever use of rubato too. Andrew Brown’s excellent programme notes told us everything we needed to know about the music presented, and they were rightly verbally acknowledged by Donohoe, who himself sprinkled a few witty remarks in between works to add to the occasion. The second half provided a splendid contrast, as Donohoe unravelled a cascade of virtuoso playing in Albeniz’s Iberia and Granados’ Goyescas, with both works offering tempting infusions of Spanish life.
One of the world’s most celebrated conductors is Sir Simon Rattle. Peter Donohoe is his ‘go to’ pianist, most recently in a series of performances of Turangalila by Olivier Messiaen with the London Symphony Orchestra. It’s easy to see why such a phenomenal conductor would choose such an eminent pianist.
Image by Chris Christodoulou