Magazine article Musical Opinion

Penelope Thwaites 40th Anniversary Concert: Percy Grainger Piano Concerto World Premiere

Magazine article Musical Opinion

Penelope Thwaites 40th Anniversary Concert: Percy Grainger Piano Concerto World Premiere

Article excerpt

It was a little strange to see the concert pianist, of 40 years standing, Penelope Thwaites, taking the platform with score in hand at Kings Place on October 8. This is by no means unique. Sviatoslav Richter, one of the greatest virtuosi of the 20th century always needed a score; those fortunate to attend a London recital will recall his stopping after a few bars into a Prokofiev sonata to start again! In an age when pianists both above and below voting age rattle off a whole recital of complex music without a score in sight it is either perplexing or refreshing to note Ms Thwaites preference. Not that her many admirers in the audience worried two hoots; they came for her playing and were rewarded with some sparkling flourishes similar to the sparkles sent out from her jewellery around her neck.

This was, however a strange concert; as the preeminent advocate/authority on the Australian composer, Percy Grainger, I failed to grasp her logic of promoting his cause with some pleasant folk arrangements and a "premiere" of his Piano Concerto. Written, when aged 13. Grainger abandoned work after completing the first movement in a score for two pianos albeit with Piano Concerto written at the head. Detective work by John Lavender in unravelling the piano parts and an orchestration by Ben Woodgates allowed this performance to take place. But for what purpose? The sound world was Mozart/Mendelssohn played by a small ensemble. Enough said.

Ms Thwaites began her recital with Bach/Busoni, Fantasia and Fugue in G minor, BWV 542 and seemed to be enjoying herself with lots of smiles in the fugue, replicated, I dare say among the audience. …

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