Pianist left audience eager for more
Acclaimed Canadian pianist Luke Welch performed at St Andrew’s Church on Mothers Day so Taupo’s Jenny McDonald went along to see if he lived up to the hype.
WHAT do New Zealand’s own Michael Houston and Canadian pianist Luke Welch have in common? Both have recovered from debilitating physical setbacks to go back to performing and both are once again entertaining their audiences with great mastery of their instrument. Mother’s Day afternoon saw a good-sized audi- ence treated to a thoughtfully chosen programme from Canadian born Luke Welch.
The programme opened with Schumann’s Kinderszenen (Scenes from Childhood) played in its entirety. A pleasant surprise as so often we only hear excerpts. These descriptive little pieces were performed with good contrasts and clear shaping of melodic lines bringing the character of each alive. They were followed by the more moody Brahms’ Four Klavierstuke Op. 119 with the large chords and complex harmonies well handled. Sonata D.784 by Schubert was the last item in this section. The brilliance of the playing in the concluding allegro vivace movement left the audience eagerly anticipating more.
The second half of the programme commenced with a piece from the little known – to New Zealand audiences – Morawetz, a Polish born composer who escaped his home country during the second world war and made Canada his home. He is now claimed as their own. This piece, Scherzo, by its definition means playful and it certainly lived up to this definition under Welch’s hands.
The Polish connection was continued with Chopin’s Nocturne Op. 48 No 2, followed by Four Mazurkas Op.24 and concluded with Fantasise Op.49.
The Nocturne was well shaped and the melodic notes were clearly articulated.
The Mazurkas were presented with very rhythmic playing which their genre calls for. The less often heard Fantasise lived up to its nature with well handled glissandos aplenty.
And to round out the afternoon a short and sweet Mendelssohn Song Without Words was presented as an encore.
If this reviewer has one little gripe it is that Welch never spoke to the audience about his programme so that we all may have shared in the reasons for his programme choice and his thoughts on this his first visit to our shores. However, he is taking away from New Zealand more than just good memories of pleasant venues and appreciative audiences – he revealed that he became engaged on the Cook Strait ferry crossing.