Top critical review
12 people found this helpful
What an ego
on 17 February 2013
It's certainly a gripping book. Playing the piano is my private pleasure so I lived every moment of his tortured relationship with the Ballade. He gives the impression of being about 90% honest with his readers - the excruciating description of the Ballade's first public moment in France, his teacher eventually trying his best to sack him....But the big question, in my view, remained unanswered: by the end, could he actually play the piece at all well? If he had been satisfied with his performance surely it would be on his website in full, wouldn't it? I was pretty shocked that, having spent a substantial amount of my time going through the pain with him, he only allows us to hear a few carefully chosen highlights of his performance on his website. Where was the impossible 'squashed flies' flurry of notes which create the first well-described obstacle? Strangely, his playing cuts out just one bar earlier. Where were the first 3 pages of the 'Presto con fuoco' which was a recurrent theme throughout? Alan - your readers need to hear these sections if the book is to be complete!
All amateur pianists will congratulate him for actually learning a new piece all the way through for the first time in 40 years. Everyone will congratulate him on having written a thoroughly entertaining book about the experience. And yet more praise is due for not getting fired from the day job while he achieved all this. My reservation is that I still secretly suspect that the actual performance was a bit of an embarrassment. And, by the way, I for one am certainly not going to enter his competition to learn the ballade and play it to him. Too lazy and too shy - how very unlike Mr Rusbridger.