Mark Westcott Artist, Piano Teacher, Lecturer, Author

Dynamic Phrasing Emotive

From the opening notes of Bach's Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue it was abundantly clear Mark Westcott was going to give a piano recital bordering on greatness.

In one way or another all the music played had connections with Romanticism. Not of the Schumann, Chopin kind with warmth and melodic sweetness but of a deeper kind, more complex, an attempt to express through sound the workings of the mind and it's blissful or anguished states.

Bach playfully set key against key for emotive contrast.

Beethoven (late Sonata Opus 110) used extremes of texture and quality - transparent melodic lines very high in the treble over deeper rumbling accompaniments and an innovative and experimental use of alternate phrases using one-string, three-string pedaling.

And so on with Scriabin and his Black Mass Sonata No. 9 and Liszt and the Years of Pilgrimage.

What stood out above all in Westcott's playing was his ability to make the piano yield an almost infinite range of sound colors as he interpreted these works.

We all know Beethoven had his doubts that it could be done - his famous phrase that the piano was an unsatisfactory instrument for such expressive requirements.

Westcott made it harsh, strong, clear, or veiled. He also produced several obvious intensities at each dynamic level - that is several louds, several softs rather than one of each. And each level had a carrying power to fill the theatre. A fairly obvious point thinking of his explosive octave outbursts, the mind snapping Liszt's Petrarch Sonata. But his muted whispers, restoring clam -(thinking that might be "CALM")-,were magically, demoniacally, just as penetrating.

Yes, it was a most impressive recital.

Jim Dickenson

Copied by Ben Serna-Grey

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