Mark Westcott Artist, Piano Teacher, Lecturer, Author

Westcott Gives 'Great' Performance

"I took on the project in July against the advise of my manager," pianist Mark Westcott said yesterday as he introduced Beethoven's "Variations on a Waltz by Diabelle," Opus 120.

"It has been th emost rewarding musical experience of my life," he added before the packed house gathered at the Woman's Club for his only appearance here this season.

Thereupon, Westcott sat down at the grand piano and rewarded the audience with one of the great experiences of any lifetime. One had to agree with hum and his manager that "it is the greatest thing I have done."


The Diabelli Variations are among the crowning achievements of their composer's life. Beethoven took a simple waltz by a second-rate writer and turned it into a monumental achievement.

At one moment, the variations generated enough power to tax the technical abilities of the very greatest pianist. A split second later, they utter noted of the utmost simplicity and lyricism. A jocular musical reference to a Mozart operatic aria leads to an emotion-packed virtuosic display.

The climax seems to be an incredible double fugue. But, no, Beethoven isn't finished. He concludes with a minuet of childlike, nostalgic beauty, a farewell to life.

Small wonder, then, that concert managements are unwilling to send anyone but superstars on the road with this composition. Westcott is now one of these.

He addressed the work with emotion, power and reverence without ever stretching any of these points. Never, though did he seem overawed by the work's complexities, which have turned many a performances into dry academics.

Westcott made sparing use of the pedal, one of the trademarks of his performances. Thus, the music spoke for itself clearly, sharply. He handled the sudden, episodic changes without a whimper.


The 50-minute Diabelli Variations would have been quite enough for a mid afternoon concert. But Westcott wasn't through.

He unwound himself, and the audience, with the beautiful Barcarolle in F-sharp major, Opus 60, by Chopin. This is musical poetry, one of Chopin's finest works.

Westcott tied it together with splendid phrasing and dynamic shadings. It was a sunny ending to a memorable day.


Copied by Ben Serna-Grey

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