Patrick Hemmerlé ravishes and seduces the senses at St Mary’s

Tuesday 18 January 3.00 pm

Liszt: Gondoliera from ‘Venezia et Napoli’ (
Fauré: Barcarolle in G flat Op 42
Chopin: Barcarolle Op 60
Liszt: Berceuse S174
Chopin: Berceuse Op 57
De La Presle: Berceuse
Chopin: Tarantella Op 43
Debussy: les Collines d’Anacapri
Liszt: Tarantella from ‘Venezia et Napoli’

Playing of sublime beauty from Patrick Hemmerle as he extracted from his vast repertoire a series of Barcaroles,Berceuses and Tarantellas.
Playing of such ravishing beauty as he dug deep into each note with weight and superb finger legato as he extracted the very soul out of each note.
A series of jewels seminated with seemless artistry that ravished and seduced us as rarely before.
We have heard this young artist give magnificent performances of great intelligence and supreme musicianship of Chopin 24 Studies,Bach 48 and Beethoven Trilogy but nothing had prepared me for this continuous outpouring of ravishing sounds.Not since Rubinstein can I remember being so caught up in a musical conversation of such conviction and involvement.

Beautiful fluid sounds of great beauty and almost vocal simplicity as the music was allowed to flow so naturally with such subtle colouring and shape .There was a very impressionistic ending with long held pedal notes on which delicate whispered sounds floated so magically .

With Fauré we entered another world with an immediately recognisable voice.An outpouring of mellifluous sounds played with a superb sense of balance and astonishing brilliance.Embellishments of such delicacy thrown off with consumate ease.The same ease without sentimentality that Vlado Perlemuter had learnt from sharing a house with the Master himself.Fauré would often ask the youthful prodigy of Cortot to try his out latest compositions whilst the ink was still wet on the page.

It is interesting to note that Perlemuter wanted me to tell this to his public at the Ghione theatre in Rome before performing some of his works.Whereas he did not want to talk or be known as a pupil of Maurice Ravel whose complete works he had been one of the first to perform in Paris in the ’20’s

Chopin Barcarolle op 60 is a true masterpiece and one of Chopin’s greatest works.An outpouring of song from the first to the last note.Janina Fialkowska who played it at a memorial concert for my wife in Rome when she came off stage she whispered in my ear :’That was Ileana’.

Janina Fialkowska with Ileana Ghione in Rome March 2005

It is indeed a very special work even for Chopin from the deep opening note and the clarity of the waves lapping.But it was the luminosity of the melodic line that with Patrick’s superb finger legato was allowed to sing with such clarity,played with a weight that allowed for an infinite variety of expression without any clouding of the texture.It was in fact the continual lapping of the water that was ever present with Patrick’s very subtle sense of balance of rich sounds of ravishing beauty.The legato melody with non legato chordal comments was a marvel of technical prowess as it gradually moved into the magical nocturne like episode that had Perlemuter exclaiming that this is ‘paradise’.Moving towards the climax with just the right amount of abandon and passion that was the same sudden injection that Rubinstein would startle us with and that would give his performances,as today ,such a satisfying architectural shape.I loved the way that Patrick brought out so clearly the left hand melody with the lightweight scales just weaving the magic web that Ravel so admired.Bringing us to a subdued ending which concluded a great mellifluous arch with the opening bass note mirroring the last final bass note.A performance of great artistry and poetry but above all of great musicianship.

Clouds of sounds from which emerged a melodic line of startling originality with arabesques of great beauty.A searching undefined tonality of glistening sounds looking to the future .As Patrick rightly says a work that deserves to be played more often and which I have not ever heard in recital but only on Clifford Curzon’s historic Liszt recording of fifty years ago

The Chopin Berceuse had a luminosity of sound that seemed to grow out of the last chord of the Liszt.Chopin’s beautiful bel canto had a fluidity of sound and a melodic line of aristocratic rubato.A truly timeless outpouring of sumptuous sounds for a genre that Chopin had created for his beloved piano.

Jacques de la Presle 1888-1969 was a French composer who won Second Prix at the Prix de Rome in 1920 with his cantata Don Juan. The following year he won the Grand Prix with a cantata Hermione, and departed to spend four years at the Villa Médicis 1922-1925. De la Presle taught at the Paris Conservatory from 1937 to 1958. His little Berceuse is an innocent child like song similar to the simplicity that Villa Lobos found in his ‘A prol do Bebé’ suite and found in Patrick a very persuasive advocate

The Chopin Tarantella op 43 was played with wistful rhythmic energy and like Liszt’s Tarantella was virtuosity with elegance ‘to charm rather than impress ‘ in Patrick’s own words.There was great shape and character to the melodic line of the Chopin with a tumultuous bass and a coda of great excitement.There was ravishing beauty in Liszt’s Tarantella from Venezia e Napoli,a suite of three works – the first of which ‘Gondoliera’ had opened Patrick’s programme and the last ‘ Tarantella’ closed it and gave great cohesion and form to this very interesting survey of Berceuses,Barcarolles and Tarantellas.The middle episode of the Liszt was a long song embellished with the timing of a great coloratura soprano and it would have made great sense for Patrick to have played as an encore the Canzone work of this suite.But bitten by the excitement of Chopin’s tarantula Patrick had left out the Debussy prelude in the programme as Dr Mather had discreetly pointed out.

The Debussy Le Collines d’Anacapri was therefore the encore for a very insistent public.A superb performance where once again his freedom to choose how to use the sustaining pedal gave such breadth and colour to this miniature tone poem

Acclaimed for the originality of his concert programmes and the depth of his interpretations, Patrick Hemmerlé is a French pianist living in England. He can often be heard performing such works as the 24 Chopin Etudes, the 48 Bach Prelude and Fugues, or lesser-known composers. Recent engagements have taken him to New York, Los Angeles, Berlin, Paris, Vienna, and Prague, as well as many festivals and music society in England. Patrick has published 3 CDs, which have been well received by the international press. His latest recording project, to be issued in 2020 is a pairing of Bach’s Well Tempered Clavier and Fischer’s Ariadne Musica. He is in demand as a lecturer. He has given talks for the Cambridge University, as well as a cycle of concert-lectures on French music, presenting composers little known to the general public,. This led to the recordings of the piano music of Jean Roger-Ducasse and Maurice Emmanuel. Patrick is laureate of the international competition of Valencia, Toledo, Epinal, Grossetto, and more recently the CFRPM, in Paris, where his interpretation of Villa-Lobos’s Rudepoema, raised a great deal of interest. He was trained in Paris at the Conservatoire (CNR), under the tuition of Billy Eidi.


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