John Granger Fisher at St Mary’s ………………and that visa !

John Granger Fisher at St Mary’s
It was nice to be able to hear this fine Australian pianist again at St Mary’s in Hugh Mather’s series.
Having heard this remarkable pianist a year ago we were both alarmed to hear that he had been invited to leave the country where he had perfected his studies and would have to apply for a visa if he wished to return.
Here are my thoughts on his previous recital that had so impressed.
Whilst delighted to see him back having resolved this problem , one that not all musicians can so easily, one could reflect that with Brexit now very much on everyone’s lips the visa problem may indeed be even more complicated from April 2019 .
It seems strange to me and to Dr Mather, who has many dealings with truly exceptional young international musicians ,that a young artist who has been supported by trust funds and government scholarships because of their unique talent should after having studied in this country and brought honour on themselves and the institutions that have provided them with the recognised exceptional training, that has enabled their extraordinary talent to mature and grow in stature, are then invited to leave the country.
A country that has given them so much and that they now in turn could repay as well as propogate worldwide.
These extraordinary young artists are treated like builders or general workers that are trying to take advantage of all the UK has to offer without participating or repaying that debt .
I remember a story that used to go around of Segovia arriving at the frontier and the officer in control shouted to his mate :”There is an old bloke here who says he plays the banjo”.
Sokolov will not come to this country because he refuses to give his fingerprints as it reminds him of the regime that he had escaped .
No problem for him as the world goes to Europe to hear him ,he has no need to cross the channel !
It is a pity ,and something that I must say I am ashamed of, that artists of this stature after years of struggle and dedication are treated almost like criminals .
There are ways around this of course but so unsettlingly complicated and time consuming that it can take away from the time needed to dedicate themselves to their art.
In fact I was not surprised when Dr Mather told me that there had been a change of programme.I expect that John had spent more time with bureaucracy than with his art in the past months.
The first half of Chopin and Liszt for this reason sounded a bit tired with accomodating rubatos that are no part of this artists usual baggage.
It was in the study op 25 n.12 that suddenly we saw signs of the great pianist that I remembered from before.
There were of course some beautiful things in the Polonaise Fantasie that obviously was old repertoire that had been professionally prepared to honour his engagment with Dr Mather .
The Tarantella by Liszt I remember much more scintillating and less accomodating from his last appearance.

Dr Mather’s call to arms
Then after an interval during which we were invited to wander around the graveyard that is looking so beautiful at this time of the year!
Dr Mather rang the church bells or in this case call to arms?
Suddenly after the interval the clouds had passed and we were in the presence of the great artist that we remembered so vividly.
The second sonata by Rachmaninov played with such sense of colour and sense of direction.Added to a superhuman technical ability not only to play the millions of notes but to project them and keep this rather rhapsodic sonata under strict control .
The little G minor Prelude was  also played with great style.
The beautiful inner melodies of the middle section as in the Bflat Prelude that finished the programme could have had a more sumptuous sound and more subtle sense of balance.
But that will surely come when Dr Mather reinvites him back to St Barnabas to play on his magnificent Bosendorfer.
We await with joy .
So pleased that this gifted artist ,having resolved his bureaucratic problems can share with us his great artistry.
Not only in his homeland Australia where he is already well known but also in the country that has given him so much.
Now into battle with a young exceptional Serbian pianist.
(Serbia/Australia are not part of the EU as we shortly shall not be too!)
For months  he has not touched the piano whilst he battles with the bureaucracy for an exceptional talent visa.
He won an International Competition in Italy at the age of 14 and decided to study with one of the great teachers that now reside and are proud to teach in UK institutions such as the RCM,RAM in London.
Thanks to the encouragement of Dr Mather and other institutions such as the Keyboard Charitable Trust and Talent Unlimited of Canan Maxton with the collaboration ,of course, of the extraordinary teachers that are prepared to enter the fray to help these young musicians resolve their dreams and put them on track in the very difficult start to a professional career in music.
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