Piano recital in Chingford

Comments from members of the audience:

“The D minor sonata was so beautifully played and in particular the crucial bars 143 – 148 and 153 – 158 in the first movement, which present much difficulty for we mere mortals in trying to convey the ghostly and spiritually contemplative atmosphere intended by the composer, were hauntingly beautiful. I have always felt the difficulty with these passages is more to do with the artist’s ability to empathise perfectly with Beethoven’s emotions than with technique; I felt your communion with Beethoven was at its height in those bars. You told me it was this sonata which set you on the road – at the age of nine, I think; certainly your special connection and affinity with it shone through. Your performance of the Hammerklavier was a tour-de force and your control, especially in the last movement, was astonishing. What a work that is! And what a challenge! Again, I’ve not heard this sonata played better than I did yesterday. We could not stop talking about it on the way home.”

“I was mesmerised by your magnificent playing on Saturday afternoon at Chingford.. I leaned closer to the keyboard because I could hardly believe what was happening! What a stupendous mind Beethoven must have had to write that fugue in the last Movement of the Hammerklavier and what a formidable technique and musical understanding you John must have to play it! Bravo and congratulations. I so enjoyed all three sonatas and  was especially captivated by the last lyrical and beautiful movement of the Tempest.”

Review of my piano recital at Chingford

by Neil Lock

Originally published by the Libertarian Alliance

I was at John Kersey’s piano recital on Saturday May 16th 2015 in Chingford parish church, London E4. The size of the audience was disappointing; perhaps 50 or maybe 60. But I wasn’t disappointed by the experience.

Let me tell you where I come from (musically, not politically). I’m no pianistic expert, but I am a musician. I’ve played in a brass band for more than 40 years. For most of that time my main instrument has been the euphonium; but about 7 years ago, my band suffered a sudden shortage of bass players. So, these days I play the E flat bass tuba.

Oh yes, and I’m also, in my own small way, a composer and arranger for brass band. That tends to give me a wider perspective on the music I hear than most listeners.

Now to John Kersey’s recital. The echoing acoustic of the church, I thought, didn’t help the percussive effects in the opening Bach prelude and fugue. But maybe there was a bit of my own bias in play as well. For church music isn’t really my thing. And Bach, while I recognize his genius, is a little early for my taste.

I was on more comfortable ground with the late Beethoven which followed. There were moments, in the last movement of the Sonata in E major, when I felt briefly transported into another world. Few composers, and few performers, can do that to me.

With the Bagatelles, John Kersey showed us how good a technician he is. I particularly enjoyed the second and fifth of the six pieces.

After the very brief interval, two Fauré barcarolles were not my personal cup of tea. But they paved the way for what I expected to be the highlight: Alkan’s “Symphonie pour piano.” I’d heard this piece on recordings before, but never live.

In the first movement, John Kersey set himself a challenging tempo, and didn’t overdo the rubato. The result was spectacular. Even on its own, to hear that movement was worth going all the way to Chingford for. The third movement was even better. As to the last movement, just before the end I found myself writing in the little A6 book I carry with me what became the following words:

“John Kersey conveyed superbly to the audience the manic energy and sheer horror of the ride through hell on which Alkan takes us.”

I cannot praise John Kersey’s performance highly enough. And I recommend that all of you who enjoy 19th century music should look out for his next recital, and go to it.