The Last Ballade
CHRISTOPHER SMITH Norwich Arts Centre
> Norwich Arts Centre
The tragic love affair between the Polish composer Frederick Chopin and the feisty French feminist novelist George Sand is a rich episode in the history of the romantic period.
Michael Lunts tells the story with elegant economy and engaging sympathy. Presenting events in the form of a drama that he has himself compiled, he takes the role of the musician, who is the only performer we see. He also plays the piano - very fluently and with no fuss - to cast light on events as they unfold in his narrative. The mixture is compelling, with sharp focus on the individual. It's a remarkable feat of concentration too, over little short of two fascinating hours.
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A programme of works by Chopin and one well-chosen song from Schubert's “Winter Journey” cycle illustrate the tale of hopes and disappointments, of affection and desertion in the depths of the French countryside and in Paris. Sadly, neither feels like home to the exile. Music always gives extra depth to this tale of distress. As Lunts makes Chopin say, notes express more than words can say.
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