Sunderland Pianoforte Society continued its 2011-2012 season on Tuesday 8th. November
2011 by responding to its members’ suggestion and inviting the young Irish pianist David Quigley to return to the city for the third time.
His recital programme was refreshingly different and quite original. He called it “Transcriptions and Paraphrases” and built it from music that had been especially transcribed for the keyboard by various composers from other composers works written for different musical forces. The “mix” was highly varied and proved very popular with the Sunderland audience in the Museum and Winter Gardens. David talked about every item before he played it.
He began with tributes to Franz Liszt on his 200th. anniversary: so the first three transcriptions were by the great Hungarian. He started with Schubert’s ever lovely “Ständchen” (Serenade) and Schumann’s “Widmung”(Dedication) which he did with great delicacy building the Liszt paraphrases into great climaxes of sound.
He told the audience at the outset that he was glad to be back in Sunderland playing “your wonderful piano”, and he certainly demonstrated what could be done on the fine instrument.
Then followed a rarely heard piece: the Liszt paraphrase on Verdi’s opera “Aida”. This was beautifully done and quite a rare opportunity to enjoy this moving piece. Liszt created plenty of “paraphrases” (cleverly constructed selections ) of popular operas, but, strangely, this “Aida” medley is seldom heard.
David Quigley performing the Aida paraphrase July 4, 2011 Ferreirola, La Alpujarra, Spain
Then followed (because it is 50 years since his death) three transcriptions by the brilliant
Australian Percy Grainger. David played two songs by Fauré (“Nell” & “Après un rêve”) and then George Gershwin’s “Love Walked in”. These Percy Grainger arrangements (transcriptions is a better word for such masterly writings) were stunning, and David’s interpretations were a joy to hear. The audience applause got warmer as the evening went by.
The first half ended with the second world performance of a piece written by the Irish composer Philip Hammond (an important musical figure in Northern Ireland) especially for David Quigley. The work “Miniatures and Modulations” was specially commissioned by the Queen’s Belfast Music Festival to celebrate the composer’s 60th. birthday. It had been given its world premiere only two weeks ago, and the Sunderland audience is the second in the world to hear this music. Of the fourteen pieces (Old Irish harp songs from a 1792 collection) David selected five to lead us to the interval. A clever idea because there was plenty for friends to talk about during the pause. The general consensus appeared to be that although “modern” in style (as we might expect) the music was rhythmic and with plenty of intriguing effects on the keyboard.
David presented them by playing the original 1792 song/dance in each case before its free transcription by Philip Hammond. This added clarity to the musical experience and the audience was shown in each case what the composer was achieving. Very much appreciated and received very warmly by everyone.
David’s second half consisted of a complete performance of Elgar’s own piano transcription of his ever popular “Enigma Variations”. David pointed out how well written for the piano Elgar had made the work. The whole performance was a triumphant success and everyone present, hearing this rarely played version for the first time ever, were delighted and astonished that such an important and well-scored major orchestral work could be so effective as piano music. David’s treatment brought alive all those “Friends pictured within” as Elgar put it in his dedication.
The Sunderland audience had enjoyed wonderful pianism from a young Irish virtuoso who is not only equipped with clever fingers but is also a thoughtful musician to his finger tips who always presents immaculately thought-out interpretations.
After two “curtain calls” David played as an encore another transcription by Percy Grainger – a simply gorgeous transcription of George Gershwin’s “The Man I Love”.
A wonderful evening was had by all and David Quigley was kept busy afterwards signing all the CDs of Philip Hammond’s music that he brought with him. People were especially pleased to note that David was also one of the people who appeared to have enjoyed the evening.