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Bitter Sweet Elegies,
This review is from: Gwilym Simcock - Good Days at Schloss Elmau (Audio CD)
"Nimble Fingers" doesn't quite define him! Gwilym Simcock
is a pianist with twenty fingers (or so it seems) and power
to spare! His new album 'Good Days At Schloss Elmau' finds
him playing on and around and inside the keyboard with
gleeful abandon, controlled fury and delicate whimsicality.
There are eight pieces in the set and given time to work
their magic it is hard to not respond to Mr Simcock's
persuasive musical world-view. This is music which
balances light and dark in equal measure. The rolling
arpeggios of 'Mezzotint', for example, sweep us along
on a tide of ever-evolving melodic mayhem. Although there
is very little overall dynamic development in the piece the
emotional hub of the thematic material holds us spellbound.
The subtle fluid blues of 'Gripper' delivers a mercurially
confident right-hand melody against a shadowy left-hand
ostinato. The resulting tension is beautifully sustained.
There is a wordless song of sorts at work in 'Northern Smiles'.
The percussive melodic lines slip and slide in the air like a
tense conversation between two lovers. The final crescendo builds
into a truly thrilling coda which desolves in the final bars into
an ambiguous and enigmatic resolution. Stirring stuff indeed!
'Can We Still Be Friends' is the longest piece in the collection.
An introspective and deeply melancholy series of reflections whose
reigned-in mixture of tension and affection touches the sublime.
Final track 'Elmau Tage' would not sound out of place among Leos
Janacek's magical solo piano compositions. Fluid, lyrical and
strangely affecting it brings the album to a bitter-sweet close.
Hands in the air please for Mr Simcock's radiant gift!