Viv Mc Lean goes to town Hollywood Style Ravishes and seduces Big Band Style

Thursday 23 February 3.00 pm

Viv McLean

There was magic in the air with Viv McLean in contemplative mood.
Two Scarlatti Sonatas in D minor were played very slowly and contemplatively with ravishing colours and sensitive phrasing that made them shine like the gems we sometimes take too much for granted.
It was Fou Ts’ong who fell in love with Scarlatti and played some of them so slowly too with ravishing beauty always in style with none of this Tausig business but scrupulous authenticity.
We forget with the fingerfertigkeit jeux perlé high jinx that are so often paraded before us that the genius of Scarlatti lay in his fantasy and mellifluous outpouring of melodic invention.
The human voice -the most expressive instrument of all – and of course like Bach ,Scarlatti’s inspiration is based on the song and the dance with a clarity and simplicity that with the arrival of the pedal was to add more soul of smoke and mystery.
The very things that Viv McLean was to reveal so beautifully with the arrival of Gershwin with its insinuating colours and ravishing heartfelt outpourings of hollywoodian sounds .
The beguiling horn call of the E major sonata was worthy of a part in ‘A Midsummer nights dream’ where the elves and fairies make light and fun of any pomposity.

And it was this in Viv McLean’s playing that was so refreshing with its simplicity which did not exclude real delicacy and feeling but encapsulated within the notes themselves and never externally added.
His Mozart too was beautifully fresh and simple with a clarity and purity of sound but I found him a little inhibited by his meaningful adherence to a non legato style.
Instead of the live operatic characters that abound in all of Mozart’s works there were porcelain doll like characters that seemed artificial and not the full blooded stage actors of Mozart’s real life theatrical personalities.
It was played with a purity of sound of clarity and elegance but somehow it did not penetrate the heart as Scarlatti had.The Andante was expansive and expressive with some very delicate changes of colour.The Allegretto was played with great dynamic contrasts and brilliance but just missed the elegance of a past epoque.

Then the curtain rose and the party began.We were treated to the nightclub elegance of the ‘30’s with an insinuating performance of subtle intensity and ravishing colours .Viv McLean had opened his heart strings creating a magic atmosphere of smokey intimacy before letting rip Hollywood style with the full big band of Rhapsody in Blue.
This was the real thing as we were transported back to an age of elegance and easy showmanship and an original light that illuminated Broadway for decades.’The man I love’ was the insinuating opening number.

It was the original talent that when Gershwin asked to study with the greatest guru of her age,Nadia Boulanger,she turned him away as she did not want to ruin such an original voice.
Viv McLean ignited his large audience as the house favourite charmed,astonished and excited them with a scintillating display of refined virtuosity.A truly dazzling ,fizzing you might say,performance of Rhapsody in Blue with the sumptuous orchestral sounds of the big band with amazing solo spots of such clarity and brilliance.As Hugh rightly said there are very few pianists who can play Scarlatti and Mozart with such beauty and intelligence and then switch to the improvisational style of Hollywood.A wonderful sense of balance allowed him to play the Gershwin with full sounds that were never hard but bathed on a glorious carpet of sumptuous rich velvet sonorities.His performance of ‘Summertime’ offered as an encore was beguiling with it’s subtle sense of colour and a fluidity of recreation that was quite simply sublime.

Since winning First Prize at the Maria Canals International Piano Competition in Barcelona, British pianist Viv McLean has performed in all the major venues in the UK, as well as throughout Europe, Japan, Australia and the USA. He has performed concertos with orchestras such as the RPO, Philharmonia Orchestra, LPO, English Chamber Orchestra, Halle, BBC Concert Orchestra & the National Symphony Orchestra under the baton of such conductors as Daniel Harding, Wayne Marshall, Christopher Warren-Green, Owain Arwell Hughes, Carl Davis, Rebecca Miller and Marvin Hamlisch. Viv has collaborated with groups such as the Leopold String Trio, Ensemble 360, the Ysaye Quartet, the Sacconi String Quartet, members of the Elias, Allegri, Carducci and Tippett Quartets, and artists such as Natalie Clein, Daniel Hope, Lawrence Power, David Le Page, Adrian Brendel and Mary Bevan. Viv has appeared at many festivals including the International Beethoven Festival in Bonn, the Festival des Saintes in France, Vinterfestspill i Bergstaden in Norway and the Cheltenham International Festival in the UK. He has recorded for Sony, Naxos, Nimbus, Stone Records, RPO Records and ICSM Records. Viv has also recorded regularly for BBC Radio 3 as well as for radio in Germany, France, Australia, Norway and Poland.


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