Rhinegold LIVE concerts at London’s Conway Hall aim to offer a more convivial and relaxed atmosphere in which to enjoy classical music. Called “Rush Hour Concerts”, the evening begins at 6.15pm with a glass of wine and an opportunity to mingle in the lobby of Conway Hall, and the concert itself begins at 7pm. The performance is presented in the round which lends a greater connection between performer and audience, and is followed by a short Q&A session with the performer. The series enjoys useful corporate sponsorship and the piano for the concerts (on this occasion a Schimmel grand) is supplied by Peregrine’s Pianos.
The first concert of the new season was given by acclaimed Portuguese pianist Artur Pizarro and was entitled Songs My Grandmother Taught Me, which gave a clue to the theme of the programme. Artur announced the programme himself, explaining that all the pieces had a special connection to his first piano mentor, his grandmother Berta da Nóbrega, herself a concert pianist. Artur is a sociable and engaging speaker, drawing us into the story of his early years growing up in a small town near Lisbon and hearing piano music played in the home by his grandmother and her duo partner. His talk was peppered with anecdotes, including how his grandmother would appear at his primary school, claim there was a family emergency and then take young Artur to a cafe for the afternoon. When he asked her why, she would reply “Oh I was bored!”. One had the sense of a young child enjoying a broad cultural grounding through his grandmother’s music, poetry and her many artistic friends and colleagues who visited the house.
A young Artur Pizarro with his grandmother Berta da Nóbrega
The music performed was a selection of miniatures and salon pieces by Schumann, Chopin, Liszt, Bortkiewicz, Debussy, Moszkowski, Granados, Turina and a handful of other, lesser-known Spanish and Portuguese composers, including a tender elegy composed for Artur’s grandmother by her composition teacher at the music conservatory. Each piece was played with great care, taste and elegance, and through the music and the words, Artur gave a very special, tender and personal tribute to his grandmother, beautifully expressed.