Thomas Kelly at St Mary’s – a programme fit for a Prince
From the very first notes of Scarlatti it was clear that we were in for a very special afternoon of sumptuous playing from the Golden age of piano playing .The age when not only was there an ease of playing but there was a fantasy and imagination that with a palette of a seemingly infinite range of sounds that could ravish beguile, charm and astonish.
The idea was put into words by Tobias Matthay who would describe the way that in every note there was an infinite gradation of sounds that with a very sensitive touch could be as expressive as the human voice. I remember my first visit as a schoolboy to Sidney Harrison who sat at his wonderful inlaid Steinway and played the theme of Schumann’s Symphonic Studies. It was then that I knew music was to be the most important thing in my life. Lessons with him would be a revelation as he would search out songs where he could show me how to make the music speak in the same way as the human voice. We would spend hours finding the right inflection and shape to Traumerei of Schumann’s Kinderszenen.Of course there was also the technical preparation of Geoffrey Tankard’s books and Bach Preludes and Fugues,and much else besides but the seed was set.He would take me down the road to hear Frank Holland’s piano rolls in the Brentford Piano Museum of which he was honorary president .I could not believe the superhuman sounds of Godowsky,Rosenthal.Lhevine or the scintillating charm of Levitski. Later I was to be bowled over by Cortot’s Ballades on old recordings on loan from the local library. Followed by Horowitz’s return to the Carnegie Hall with his Schumann Fantasy of unbelievable colour and unashamed passion. Etincelles of scintillating charm and phenomenal technical wizardry. And later a mind blowing Stars and Stripes where the cheeky little piccolo would appear miraculously amidst his full orchestral sounds. Later the discovery of Rubinstein in concert where the beauty of his sound had us queuing up at six in the morning to be sure of getting in to his annual return visits.