Lara Melda at St George's in Bristol - Music Review
Posted on: 2016-05-20
Occasionally muting the piano strings to mimic the sound of a Turkish lute, it was a seductive, enchanting sonic tour de force, weaving a musical magic carpet that brimmed with captivating mystery.
St George's in Bristol continued its exemplary series of lunchtime concerts on Thursday 19th May 2016 when it hosted the extraordinary musical talents of young pianist, Lara Melda.
A student at the Royal College of Music, Lara won the BBC Young Musician 2010 competition when she was only sixteen. She's since gone on to rack up an impressive list of credits and performances to her name, including debuting at the prestigious Barbican in London and playing a raft of recitals at venues in Hamburg, Switzerland and Germany.
She regularly performs in Turkey - where she's also been honoured with several ivory-tinkling accolades - so it seemed only natural that her first performance should be by Turkish composer and pianist, Fazil Say, entitled Black Earth.
Occasionally muting the piano strings to mimic the sound of a Turkish lute, it was a seductive, enchanting sonic tour de force, weaving a musical magic carpet that brimmed with captivating mystery, funky, sometimes jazzy syncopations, and sultry, kaleidoscopic Asian exoticism.
The remainder of the program was made of music by Chopin. Three nocturnes - C sharp minor, D flat and C minor - were infused with an incredible amount of passion and reverence for the material; the fiery, dense passages raging with an almost unbearable intensity, and the quieter, delicate sections sustained with a gossamer-thin beauty and will-o-the-wisp wonder.
Chopin's titanic masterpiece Sonata No.2 in B flat minor was the finale showstopper, a four-part masterwork that has become a popular favourite of the piano repertoire. Unquestionably one of the most outstanding performances of the piece I've ever heard, it evoked its yearning, energy, loneliness, lyricism, fury and gutsiness with playing of stunning precision, technical adroitness and immense, perceptive feeling.
Even the well known, oft-performed Funeral March - suitably sombre and dirge-like to start before transmuting to an beguiling, exquisitely brittle high-register melody before plunging back in to the thundering, monotonous march - was given a captivating freshness as if hearing it for the first time.
Take it from me, Lara Melda is a piano playing firecracker and a seriously formidable talent to watch. Displaying a technique, range and virtuosity well beyond her years, the music world had better stay on its toes. This girl can kick some serious musical backside.
Reviewed by Jamie Caddick for 365Bristol.com - The leading events and entertainment website in the city
Jamie is a writer, blogger, journalist, critic, film fan, soundtrack nerd and all-round Bristolian good egg. He loves the music of Philip Glass, the art of Salvador Dali, the writings of Charles Bukowksi and Hunter S Thompson, the irreverence of Harry Hill, and the timeless, straw-chomping exuberance of The Wurzels. You can sometimes find him railing against a surging tide of passing cyclists, or gorging himself senseless on the Oriental delights of a Cosmos all-you-can-eat buffet.