Melvyn Tan 60th Birthday concert at the Wigmore Hall and Radio 3.
Great celebrations for this hugely popular musician at the Wigmore Hall today. Arriving on the platform with an almost innocent modesty to share his casket of jewels with us. A pupil at the Menuhin School of Vlado Perlemuter . It was such a coincidence to receive a telephone call from Vlado’s 104 year old companion to tell me that a pupil of his was playing on the radio.I know Joan because I am actually in the hall curious to hear this ex pupil of my old piano teacher. I remember Vlado telling me about Melvyn Tan at the Menuhin School and in the same breath telling me about another notable student of his in that period: Christian Zacharias. Let me say immediately that rarely have I heard such beautiful sounds and such fluidity of touch from both.
But the shock was that all the works that Melvyn Tan played were treated as a free fantasy to his romantic imagination. Whilst that can work wonders with such works as Czerny” Rode” Variations or his very interesting “Funeral March on the death of Beethoven” op 146. A very effective work completely new to me which made a perfect introduction to the Liszt B minor Sonata. The problem for me was with this free romantic liberty when applied to such master works as Beethoven op.109 and 126 or the monumental Liszt sonata . It can seem like a parody in the style of the “great”eccentric virtuosi of the 19th century.De Pachman type masters who would have their own particular interpretations especially of the smaller salon type pieces of Chopin,Liszt or Mendelssohn. Whilst there may be some wonderful things to savour and even admire after a while this self expression at the expense of what is written in the the score and liberty with the tempo and pulse becomes very hard to bear.
Having been brought up in the Schnabel/Pollini era where respect of the composers intentions are paramount and it only when these are mastered that a real interpretation can begin. Perlemuter and Agosti drummed this in to me as a student and so I can only beg to differ with what I heard this evening. I am very anxious to hear how the actual BBC live recording came across and I shall the first to re live this experience ,ready to be convinced . A perplexing evening that needs resolving. BBC.COM RADIO 3 for all those with the courage to listen to what I have this evening .