A fa­ther and son eye chal­leng­ing con­cer­tos

Mercury (Hobart) - Magazine - - Up Front - WORDS TIM MAR­TAIN Rach­mani­nov Pi­ano Con­cer­tos No.1 and No.2, Thurs­day, July 13, 7.30pm; and Con­cer­tos No.3 and No.4, Satur­day, July 15, 7.30pm; Fed­er­a­tion Con­cert Hall, Ho­bart. Tick­ets from $32. Phone 1800 001 190 or visit tso.com.au. Howard And Alexan­der


The con­cer­tos of Sergei Rach­mani­nov are pun­ish­ing on any pi­anist who plays them, so they are rarely per­formed more than one at a time. Next month, the Bri­tish fa­ther-and-son team of pi­anist Howard Shel­ley and con­duc­tor Alexan­der Shel­ley will push their lim­its with a per­for­mance of all four pi­ano con­cer­tos over three days in Ho­bart. Af­ter per­form­ing con­cer­tos No.1 and No.2, Howard will take a one-day break be­fore per­form­ing con­cer­tos No.3 and No.4.

Howard says the ex­er­tion from per­form­ing the con­cer­tos are so in­tense that he some­times ap­plies su­per­glue to his fin­ger­tips to keep the skin from tear­ing off.

“It has been cal­cu­lated that the soloist in a Rach­mani­nov con­certo ex­pends en­ergy equiv­a­lent to shift­ing two tonnes of coal, so yes, you have to pre­pare al­most like a sports­man,” he says. “Mu­si­cians have to be very care­ful to avoid repet­i­tive strain in­juries, given the in­ten­sity with which they have to work with their arms and shoul­ders. Hav­ing said all that, I gen­er­ally feel so up­lifted and ex­hil­a­rated at the end of a con­cert, pro­vid­ing all has gone well, that I am not aware of the phys­i­cal tired­ness.”

His per­for­mance with the TSO will be con­ducted by Alexan­der, who first gained at­ten­tion when he won the Leeds Con­duc­tors Com­pe­ti­tion in 2005. Alexan­der went on to be­come chief con­duc­tor of the Nurem­berg Sym­phony Orches­tra and is mu­sic di­rec­tor of Canada’s Na­tional Arts Cen­tre Orches­tra in Ot­tawa. He is also prin­ci­pal as­so­ciate con­duc­tor of the Royal Phil­har­monic Orches­tra in Lon­don.

Howard says Alexan­der grew up lis­ten­ing to him prac­tis­ing in the stu­dio at home, so was very fa­mil­iar with Howard’s in­ter­pre­ta­tions and style.

“Of course he has his own mu­si­cal per­son­al­ity, and this feeds into the mix, but gen­er­ally our feel­ings about mu­sic are very sim­i­lar and work­ing to­gether is easy.

“Be­ing fam­ily makes it more re­laxed and there are none of the po­ten­tial ego is­sues be­tween soloist and con­duc­tor.”

Howard says Rach­mani­nov’s mu­sic still en­trances him af­ter all th­ese years of play­ing it. “As well as the gor­geous, rich ro­man­tic pal­ette he uses, with its pas­sion and power, there is such hu­man­ity in the writ­ing, so many moods, so many surg­ing melodies and har­monic de­lights. What is there not to like about mu­sic so full of emo­tion and so im­me­di­ate in its ef­fects?”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.