TWO PIANOS – EIGHT HANDS, The University of Chichester

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In the University of Chichester’s latest concert, all five of their radiant pianists joined together, in TWO PIANOS – EIGHT HANDS, thus creating a highly remarkable evening of exceptionally lively music, all of which had been composed between the 19th and 20th Centuries.

The two, splendid, grand pianos were already in place, enabling them to set this evening in motion – with Franz Liszt’s incredibly dynamic Grand Galop. Although four pianists – two per piano – contributed individually to this astounding first piece, they at the same time merged imaginatively, in order to create a most remarkable series of decidedly rhythmical musical scenes, to which all those present in the soaring atmosphere of the Chapel of The Ascension were – quite obviously – completely enchanted, thus contributing massive applause.

Next came an extremely rhythmical piece for two pianists, written by Shostakovich. As usual, his Concertino combined intriguing melody with repetitive rhythm, most of which he had absorbed during his visits to lots of coffee bars, in Russia, following Stalin’s threat that “you are an anti-people musician”.

This was then followed by a lively Serenade in 4 Movements, by Cornelius Gurlitt, immediately after which came Elegie, which included some typically attractive melody and rhythm from the early twentieth-century French composer, Francis Poulenc – all suitably rendered by the senior University – international – Pianist, Jonathan Plowright, who has often performed in this Chapel.

As there was no need for an Interval, four pianists then followed immediately with an exceptionally dynamic work by the modern Scottish composer, Rory Boyle, having planned to conclude this astounding evening with a far more familiar work, by the renowned German Opera-composer, Wagner.

With Terry Allbright and Adam Swayne on one of the pianos and Jonathan Plowright and Susan Legg on the other, Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries was rendered in an amazingly lively manner, as all four (wearing Valkyrie helmets) performed individually, yet – as normal for this group – merged perfectly in order to express the fundamental melody and rhythm of this composer’s legendary work. As their, highly dramatic, conclusion rose into the upper levels of this towering Chapel, all those present expressed their absolute enchantment for such a remarkable concert – in which all five piano-soloists had not only expressed their highly individual techniques, but they had also combined their skills perfectly.

John Wheatley