Salut d’Amour, what better way to lift our spirits in the Elgar room .Tit for tat you might say : Elgar for Elgar ,as Jack thanked his teacher Dina Parakhina for teaching him not only the piano but about art and life .
Joined by his wife for an encore in a touching performance of a work that filled Elgar’s coffers much as Farewell to Stromness had done a century later for Maxwell Davis .
It was the encore of his recital that had been the exultation of the Fugue with fine performances of Bach,Mendelssohn and Franck.
Jack ,a late starter at 21,is certainly catching up for lost time helped of course by his masterly teacher.
He too with his own young students in the hall who had come to applaud their teacher and who he asked to count how many fugue subjects they could spot .He even prefaced his recital programme with Bach’s deceptively simple C major Prelude that his young students had struggled with in their lessons
Asking us to Google Mendelssohn and Queen Victoria so we could appreciate the historic value of where and what we were enjoying today .
What fun we had together with some masterly music making .
A truly enjoyable morning for the entire family .
- JS Bach French Suite no 4 in Eb major BWV815
(1685-1750) i Allemande ii Courante iii Sarabande iv Gavotte v Air vi Menuet vii Gigue
- Mendelssohn Prelude and Fugue in E minor op 35 no 1
(1809-1847)The Melodious Mendelssohn: Tea with Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.
- Franck Prélude, Chorale et Fugue
(1822-1890) i Prelude
ii Chorale iii Fugue
Jack’s Bach was of a clarity and precision with almost no pedal relying on his limpet like fingers for a touch from legato to non legato ,notes inégales and staccato.Whilst allowing admirable rhythmic impetus and buoyancy it did rob the music of its colour and shape.Bach’s music is based on the song and the dance and whilst of course needing absolute clarity it also needs the same contours and inflection as the human voice.Jack gave us a Bach of remarkably clear lines and architectural shape like a monument to admire rather than be moved by.There was much to admire though.The absolute clarity of the Allemande and the rhythmic buoyancy of the Courante.His superb finger legato in the Sarabande or the beautifully phrased Gavotte.The natural flow of the Aria and the infectious rhythmic insistence of the Gigue .
The French Suites, BWV 812–817, were written by Bach for the clavier (harpsichord or clavichord )between the years of 1722 and 1725.Although Suites Nos. 1 to 4 are typically dated to 1722, it is possible that the first was written somewhat earlier.The suites were later given the name ‘French’ Likewise, the ‘English’ that was popularised by Bach’s biographer Johann Nikolaus Forkel , who wrote in his 1802 biography of Bach, “One usually calls them French Suites because they are written in the French manner.”This claim, however, is inaccurate: like Bach’s other suites, they follow a largely Italian convention.There is no surviving definitive manuscript of these suites, and ornamentation varies both in type and in degree across manuscripts.
Taking his jacket off after the Bach it was as though he had removed a straight jacket .Suddenly he moved with a horizontal freedom that gave such fluidity to his playing.Bathed in pedal,Mendelssohn’s brilliant prelude flowed from his fingers with ease.A sense of balance that allowed the sumptuous melody to ride on these waves of sound with passionate commitment.Beautifully shaped and with a technical prowess that carried the music ‘on wings of song’.There was clarity in the fugue but now he brought a colour and architectural shape that had been missing in his performance of Bach.Knotty twine,as Delius described Bach’s counterpoint but there is beauty too and it just took Jack to remove his jacket to relish the sounds that were now pouring from his sensitive fingers.
Mendelssohn took the opportunity to experiment with the so-called ‘three-hand effect’, in which he embedded a melody in the middle register of the piano and framed it with arpeggiandi above and a bass line below. The effect was that three, instead of two, hands were playing, a virtuosic trompe l’œil made fashionable in the 1830s by Sigismond Thalberg, and then widely imitated by other virtuosi, including Liszt. In contrast, the fugue, built upon an angular subject launched by the dramatic leap of a falling seventh, impresses as another example of Mendelssohn’s Bachian pursuits, so that, taken together, the prelude and fugue juxtapose the new with the old.
Cesar Franck’s Prelude ,Chorale and Fugue closed the programme .In his introduction Jack spoke of this masterpiece as spiritual and profound being of darkness and light,pain and hope.He gave a very fine performance showing great musicianship as he allowed the music to unwind so naturally.If the opening seemed rather earthbound he gradually found the atmosphere and colour that was to illuminate his whole performance.The chorale emerged from the prelude with ravishing sounds and a florid sweep that opened up the full sonority of the piano with overwhelming effect.A technical assurance that allowed the music to move forward with authority,negotiating the notorious leaps with true technical mastery.A sense of improvisation gave a respite before the bald statement of the fugue subject.A fugue of grandeur and nobility with a relentless forward movement.The reappearance of the opening theme on a cloud of etherial sounds was in great contrast to the tumultuous build up to the glorious final exultation played with masterly authority and control.
I cannot do more than quote Stephen Hough’s fascinatingly learned words: “Franck’s original plan, according to his pupil Vincent d’Indy, was to write a plain Prelude and Fugue, the venerable form made immortal by Bach and neglected since Mendelssohn, a visibly serious alternative to the plethora of virtuoso pieces which were so popular at the time. After almost forty years writing mainly organ music and works inspired by sacred texts, the example of Bach was an affirmation that secular music could still retain a spiritual identity in an abstract form. In fact it is significant that the further Franck moved away from specifically sacred music (his liturgical works are particularly lifeless) the clearer and more pure his spiritual vision seemed to become.The decision to include a central section, separate from, yet linking, the Prelude and Fugue, came later (again according to d’Indy). Perhaps Bach was the influence with the poignant slow interludes of his Clavier Toccatas to say nothing of the very word ‘chorale’ which was eventually used. In the event, however, this central section became the emotional core of the work, its ‘motto’ theme used as a symbol of redemption and as a unifying principle at the climax of the Fugue.When Saint-Saëns made his tart observation about the piece that the ‘chorale is not a chorale and the fugue is not a fugue’ (in his pamphlet ‘Les Idées de M. Vincent d’Indy’), he was completely missing the point. The forms here have become symbolic, the apotheosis of their academic counterparts; and, furthermore, Alfred Cortot described the Fugue in the context of the whole work as ‘emanating from a psychological necessity rather than from a principle of musical composition’ (La musique française de piano; PUF, 1930). It is as if a ‘fugue’, as a symbol of intellectual rigour, was the only way Franck could find a voice to express fully the hesitant, truncated sobs of the Prelude and the anguished, syncopated lament of the Chorale. Not that the Fugue solves the problem—this is the function of the ‘motto’ theme; but the rules of counterpoint have given the speaker a format in which the unspeakable can be spoken.There are two motivic ideas on which the whole work is based: one, a falling, appoggiatura motif used in all three sections and generally chromatic in tonality ;the other a criss-crossing motif in fourths which appears first in the Chorale section and then again as a balm at the point where the Fugue reaches its emotional crisis. The first motivic idea is clearly related to the Bach Cantata ‘Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen’, and also to the ‘Crucifixus’ from the B minor Mass; the other idea appears as the ‘bell motif’ in Wagner’s Parsifal.”
Jack Tyndale-Biscoe’s unorthodox musical background spans three continents, two instruments and encompasses performances from Bach to Britten.He holds diplomas and degrees from the Academy of Music and Performing Arts in Sydney, Brigham Young University-Idaho (BYU-I) and the Royal College of Music, with additional studies undertaken at the Leipzig Conservatory in Germany.He has performed in concert venues and halls across Europe, the United States and Australia, with recent live performances at Steinway Hall UK, Jacqueline du Pré Hall at Oxford University, St. James Piccadilly, The International Albéniz Festival in Barcelona, The International Mendelssohn Festival-Akademie Leipzig, Fairfield Halls, St. Paul’s (Covent Garden), Westminster Music Library Hall, and featured in live performances of Albéniz’s Iberia Book One on WUSF Radio 89.7 FM, Classical Radio.Other achievements include winning first prize at the Croydon Performing Arts Competition, and first prize for the Concerto Competition with the Symphony Orchestra (BYU-I). During the 2022-2023 season, Jack will be recording with KNS Classical and presenting a unique programme at concert venues across London and Europe, entitled The Divine Spark of Bach.As an official Talent Unlimited UK and DEBUT Classical Artist, Jack is grateful for the support of both organisations in their promotion of London-based artists.
Situated directly opposite the Royal Albert Hall, the Royal College of Music (RCM) is a world-leading music conservatoire with a prestigious history, contemporary outlook and inspiring location. The RCMtrains gifted musicians from all over the world for international careers as performers, conductors, composers and other significant leadership roles within the arts. With around 1,000 students from more than 60 countries studying at junior, undergraduate, postgraduate or doctoral level, the RCM is a community of talented and open-minded musicians where creativity, innovation, collaboration and diversity are prized.
The first public performance ever given by RCM musicians was in the Elgar Room. On Wednesday 2 July 1884, in the West Theatre (as it was called then), “Mr. Barton”, a piano student, performed Chopin’s Ballade in A flat to open a programme that also included operatic arias by Mozart, Handel and Gluck, and also chamber works by Schumann and Haydn. We’re delighted to be still here over 130 years later!