|© calamardebien - Fotolia.com|
Sometimes recitals are memorable because of the music that is performed. Sometimes it's a musician's incredible musicality or technical prowess. And sometimes, when we're really fortunate, a recital is also memorable because of the glimpse we are given into who the performer is as a human being.
Last night afforded me one of those special moments.
The British pianist, Martin Jones, performed at Radford University, which is located in southwest Virginia - an area that doesn't regularly get visited by performers who are used to traveling the globe. There are a lot of wonderful things I could say about his jaw-dropping technique, the broad spectrum of colors he got out of the piano, and about the really interesting mix of repertoire he chose, but what I really want to point out was how gracious and unpretentious he was and how enchanting that felt as an audience member. Although I could sense who he is as a person from the very beginning of the recital it was especially at the end that it was most apparent. After playing two encores he walked back onstage, bowed, and then walked over to the piano again, standing right in front of the Steinway logo, and pretended to turn a crank as if he was getting the piano ready to play again. It got the audience laughing and I dare say it got him smiling even more. And as if that wasn't enough, when he walked onto the stage after that third encore he stepped just a few feet onto the stage and bowed, took a few more sideways steps toward the piano and bowed again, a few more steps and bowed until he finally was standing next to the piano once more. So what was left to do but to sit down to play yet another encore?! Again he had prepped us for another encore by being so playful about it. As he left the stage after this fourth encore the lights on the stage immediately went dark which led the audience into another round of soft chuckles as we took the not-so-subtle cue and stopped our applause, feeling like we had just witnessed not only a stunning performance but also met a wonderful man.
Perhaps it might seem odd to some that I have chosen to write a review without saying hardly a word about the music but I suppose that says something about me. I rarely go to performances craving to hear perfectly executed music - I go hoping instead that the opportunity will give me a chance to soak in something personal about the musician that is performing.
Last night definitely gave me that chance thanks to Mr. Jones. What a gift.