Home | Reviews | Articles | Festivals | Competitions | Other | Contact Us

Leslie Howard piano Wilton's Music Hall 6.30 16 June 2003
Mozart Variations on ‘A Woman is the most marvellous thing’ KV613; Sonata in A minor KV310 Liszt Two transcriptions from Mozart's Requiem (KV626), S550: Confutatis maledictis & Lacrimosa; Réminiscences des Huguenots S412iii

Tell me the truth about love Wilton's Music Hall 9.00 16 June 2003
Nuala Willis contralto
Jonathan Dove piano

Not a great evening for a first visit to Wilton's Music Hall for two events in this year's Spitalfields Festival - On The Move whilst Spitalfields Church is undergoing restoration.

Leslie Howard played his Mozart/Liszt recital from a well stocked memory but seemed to be on semi-automatic pilot. The Mozart variations were stolid and dull and the sonata mostly rushed through with no new insights to be heard en route (to restore my confidence in how well they can sound on modern piano, I returned to my bench-mark Tudor recording; Gilbert Schuchter shows how do them on a Bösendorfer). The Lacrimosa sounded well in Liszt's transcription but the third version of his Huguenots Réminiscences (Howard has recorded them all in his 95 Liszt CDs for Hyperion) is a meretricious monster, which brought predictable acclamation after its noisy ending despite many a splash on the way.

How much preparation do famous artists allocate for such events as this, compared with the hundreds of hours devoted to preparing for an hour's recital by, say, a pianist on the way up like Alison Luz?

I had been inclined to pity Howard for a recalcitrant Steinway, but it proved a different instrument under Jonathan Dove’s sensitive fingers. His cabaret show with Nuala Willis (the adorable holiday romancer jilted in Flight) made an undemanding, pleasing enough hour - but one had had to wait 1½ hours for it.

Best was Dove’s own song-cycle All you who sleep tonight, which suited her voice to a tee, and about which he was unnecessarily self-deprecating. As a cabaret artist, though, Nuala Willis is a little under-powered in putting over the texts, and one had to listen hard for the words, even then sometimes missing the punch lines.

© Peter Grahame Woolf