MICHAEL DRAKE The Old Granary Studios, Raveningham
From the Wigmore Hall to the more homely ambience of the rural Old Granary at Raveningham came one of the world's most prolific performers.
Having recorded all his works, it was no surprise that Leslie Howard presented an all-Liszt programme on Saturday evening and from an innumerable list of transcriptions, a cross-section emerged.
First it was opera by piano in the Fantasy on a theme from Wagner's Rienzi. Stirring stuff this, powerfully performed. This was followed by the Bach-based Weinen, Klagen Variations – music of extreme invention from such a relatively few notes which Howard ended with a wonderfully coloured chorale.
Liszt didn't make the Hungarian Rhapsody No XIII easy but the recitalist made this exciting to listen to, not only in sound but in the display of bravura expertise.
Howard is a studious performer, giving nothing away facially but the drama and eloquence are at his fingertips and in both the Meyerbeer Reminiscences des Huguenots and Bellini's Norma, he told these stories with a wealth of variety – the former having a particularly evocative quiet section before the return of pace and power and the latter, virtually a sonata, by harnessing the rhythmic complexities with more drama on a grand scale. It was a finale of pianistic romance par excellence roundly appreciated and deserving of the gentle Liszt/Chopin Polish Song
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No 5 encore.