Pianist: Grant Green, Northern Ballet Ensemble
Composers: Ludwig van Beethoven, Frédéric Chopin, Claude Debussy, Franz Lizst and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Reviewer: S. E. Webster
The Public Reviews Rating:
In what might be described as an overture to a new series of musical recitals by the Northern Ballet Sinfonia, Grant Green, the company pianist performed a programme of well-known pieces ranging from classical to romantic music.
Green has been the company pianist for the past two years and has experience with the likes of the Northern Chamber Orchestra. Undoubtedly a very talented and versatile pianist he plays with excellent finger work and appears to be just as comfortable playing jazz and blues as he is happy to execute Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata.
The programme begins with three piano pieces by Debussy, before continuing through the first act to an amusing but highly technical Mozart piece, his 12 Variations on a Nursery Song, that is essentially Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, and to round off before the interval another Debussy piece, L’isle joyeux. Debussy is naturally always a very popular choice with audiences, as his work is invariably used in film, Claire de Lune perhaps being the most highly recognized and played, however it is refreshing to hear some of his other work on the piano. It seems however, that the Mozart piece was in fact the highlight of the 1st Act. With perfect timing, control and extremely good work from the left hand (the latter being a thing difficult to find in many pianists) it is executed with brilliance and the dynamics of the piece really came through. It also reveals why Green is a pianist for a ballet company; the pianist having to often repeat the same movement again and again as dancers rehearse, and despite the likewise repetitive nature of Mozart he played it with real zeal and patience.
Act Two commences with Beethoven, concludes with Lizst and also featured Chopin. Indeed, beside the encore blues and jazz piece, Chopin’s Scherzo in C Sharp really steals the show.
Criticism unfortunately would come up against the theatre room itself. The Stanley and Audrey Burton Theatre is a flexible, intimate space and is really perhaps too small for a piano recital. Green, being a ballet company pianist, will always be conscious of having to play over the dancers and the sound of their feet against the stage, and will undoubtedly have to play with greater force as a result. However, dancers being absent on this occasion, at times during a crescendo or during a phrase that was forte, the music came over as slightly aggressive and perhaps could have been more piano in places. It is trial that pianists in particular often face when performing, since they are often playing on somebody else’s instrument and in a strange environment to put, and it is difficult to combat different acoustics or noisy air-conditioning units and adjust to those surroundings. It would thus, have been with greater fairness to himself as a pianist had Green played in a larger venue.
Nevertheless, Green is an exceptional pianist and provides yet another reason why audiences should go to watch Northern Ballet in their forthcoming productions this season.
Tags: Claude Debussy, Franz Lizst, Frédéric Chopin, Grant Green, Leeds, Ludwig van Beethoven, Music, Northern Ballet Sinfonia, Piano, Stanley & Audrey Burton Theatre, West Yorkshire, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, yorkshire