The Firm’s fifth, and final concert of the year, and the 101st since foundation, showcased Leigh Harrold’s piano awesomeness, and some pretty amazing compositions to a small, pensive crowd of enthralled enthusiasts.
Headlining with the next instalment in Philips Glass’ Metamorphosis Cycle (1988), numbers 4 and 5, Harrold sincerely conveyed the poignant beauty of this Franz Kafka and Errol Morris/Randall Day Adams influenced work. I love Metamorphosis so much; I was left wanting only because I did not attend the previous concert.
Raymond Chapman Smith’s Over Your Cities Grass Will Grow followed. The first movement, Traumraum, exposed a type of beauty; not fake-pretty, but intriguingly handsome. The subtleties weren’t lost on Harrold who delivered delicacy, with a sinister undertone; a hint of things to come.
By the second, Night Wave, I was so convinced of Chapman Smith’s evocative structure and transient nuance, and Harrold’s skill at conveying these, I seriously wondered if the former had orchestrated an ambulance to siren past half way through.
The third movement, Invisible Green, began with defiance perhaps at odds with Harrold’s gentle stage persona, but reconfirming his versatility and depth. Ending at an abysmal and resounding darkness, I compliment that it is only the very best artists who can make us question the boundaries of our highs and lows. Thank you, sort of.
Quentin Grant’s Every Sunrise was a surprising display of insight into things known and unknown, and cleverly conveyed the beauty and foreboding of every sunrise, neatly captured inside a crystal clear box, through which we were welcome to peer.
Harrold masterfully made this piece of exquisite beauty seem simple when we know, even in its minimalist vein, it could not possibly be. The seven movements pressed directionally, but I never wanted to reach the destination, instead pausing amongst the changing times and tempos to reflect on every sunrise.
The last piano sonata, written by Franz Schubert, Sonata in Bb major, D.960 (1828), was handled masterfully by Harrold. In four movements, he progressed colourful harmonic excursions and sombre and choral melodies over animated accompaniments, to a jovial Scherzo, and finally the Allegro ma non troppo – Presto; a standout, with clashing rhythms and the juxtaposed minor fortissimo and major pianissimo eventually leading us back to the rondo. This all went to prove the enduring allure of the best of Romanticism, and Harrold’s place in the driving seat.
Poems by Rainer Maria Rilke, and images by Gerhard Richter were thoughtfully included in the program, and complimented the well-considered evening.
The concert’s poor attendance was the only unpleasant thing about the evening. To have one of Australia’s best pianists performing compositions of this standard, (plus an “old classic”), plus post-game analysis with the performer and the composers (2/4), whilst sipping a complimentary wine and munching on delicious tortes… for $12/$7(!!!!), is the best value ticket ever.
P.S. If you are a music student, you could have attended FOR FREE. (Sad face, until 2014…)
Reviewed by Gordon Forester
Venue: Elder Hall, North Terrace, Adelaide
Season: 04 November 2013
Duration: 2 hours
Photo of Leigh Harrold supplied by Uncanny Media