Jamie Bergin at St Mary’s Perivale
Hugh Mather and friends greet the Keyboard Charitable Trust
Once again thanks to the generosity and enthusiasm of Hugh Mather and Roger Nellist we were able to hear the superb young British pianist Jamie Bergin in London.
Having been selected by the Keyboard Charitable Trust to give a public audition / concert in Steinway Hall to find that due to rebuilding work the hall will not be available until the spring.
Jamie having studied from an early age with Murray McLachlan at Chethams and then at the Guildhall with Joan Havill has gone on to complete his studies with Lars Vogt in Hannover and since 2016 was invited to be his assistant.
Here was a pedigree of great musicianship and it was exactly this that was so evident from a programme of often heard works but in the hands of a true musician.
It was as though we were hearing them afresh for the first time.
The really refreshing surprise was the variety of sounds that he could conjure out of a piano that we have heard so many times in lesser hands.
Here was a professionality where there was absolutely no doubt technically or musically of his intentions.
To start at the end with the encore of Granados: “A Maiden and the Nightingale” of such sublime beauty.
The almost whispered melodic layers of sound each one weaving a magic spell but with a quality of sound at once creamy rich but with undercurrents of harmonies of such subtle colour like a fabulous string orchestra that is barely audible.
The passionate outbursts were a consequence of the slow built up of sound.
The imitation bird calls would have had Messiaen green with envy.
They were played with clarity but also with just the right amount of pedal that blurred the edges to perfection.
This was after a Gaspard de la Nuit that I have never heard played so perfectly in a live performance.
Scarbo was quite fenomenal in it’s sheer brilliance and complete technical command.
The subtle indications of diminuendo and crescendo so often ignored were here wonderfully noted and the deep throbbing notes at the beginning and in the mysterious middle section were quite a revelation.
To hear what Ravel actually wrote was a technical and musical feat of but a chosen few.
The opening of Ondine was beautifully judged with the melody shaped so perfectly where the murmur of the water was never allowed to be distinct or invasive.
Of course there were great washes of sound and in the great double note climax I have never been so aware that they start piano and lead to a crescendo of great brilliance- a real technical feat indeed.
The tolling bell of Le Gibet was even more mysterious for its understated clarity.
The concert had started with Les Adieux Sonata op 81a by Beethoven.
Of course as we would expect with a disciple of that great trainer of musician pianists, Joan Havill, every marking was scrupulously noted and incorporated into a very personal interpretation.
In fact it was immediately noticeable the differing liquid sounds that he managed to find within piano to mezzo piano.
This I imagine is the influence of that other great musician Lars Vogt who we know from his participation for many years with the Leeds Competition and conducting from the keyboard the orchestras in the north of England.
The whole of the first movement had an almost “pastoral” feel to it with some wonderful attention to the bass where I have never noticed such differing colours before.
Technically impeccable,of course, but almost too fussy for Beethoven with hairpin shaping and slight changes of tempo that disturbed a little the true Beethovenian rhythmic drive.
The slow movement was beautifully shaped and lead to the Vivacissimamente which had all the relentless drive that had been missing in the first movement.
It was indeed a very fine performance and was followed by Chopin’s great continuous melodic outpouring that is his Barcarolle.
Played with great taste never allowing the rubato to become vulgar but with that fexibility that is as Chopin describes: a tree with the roots in the ground but the branches that are allowed to sway naturally in the wind.
Inner counterpoints so beautifully shaped as rarely heard with great aristocratic nobility but at the same time with a heart that beats so strongly from within.
This remarkable young man, well on his way to a great career ,can be heard in London at St John’s Smith Square for the Kirckman Young Artists Series on the 24th January at 19.30 ………………
I for one shall not miss it!
Thank you Hugh Mather and your remarkable team for opening up not only your beautiful church but also sharing your informed enthusiasm with the Keyboard Charitable Trust on a friday night .