'Fistfuls of notes flung with such exhilarating and thrilling energy'
Sunday morning's RCH piano recital proved once more that appearances can be deceptive. At first sight the programme chosen by Dina Duisen seemed well calculated to keep the audience inside their comfort zone. Some Beethoven to start, then some dances by Chopin and Saint-Saens followed by some barn-storming Liszt to end. All nicely predictable. Except that it wasn't like that at all.
Firstly, Dina must be the first pianist from Kazakhstan that anyone present had ever encountered. And I must admit that everything I now know about Kazakh music I learned on Sunday morning. Her father is a famous player of the country's national musical instrument, the dombra (a sort of long-necked, lute-like instrument). For her encore she even brought on stage a miniature one and parked it by the piano while she played The Legend of the Dombra by her compatriot Nagim Mendygaliev, a totally unexpected and rather wonderful revelation.
The rest of her programme was very fine too. Beethoven's 32 Variations in C minor all whizzed by pretty quickly, the complete set taking only 12 minutes to perform. So not much time to stamp each with its own particular character. The fact that the sudden contrasts between slow and fast, calm and agitated, angrily loud and mysteriously quiet were made so seamlessly and so tellingly demonstrated Dina's formidable technique and musical imagination.
Then followed four Mazurkas , two by Chopin (delicate, sad, gently restrained) and two by Saint-Saens (one strongly rhythmic with touches of fairyland about it, the other delicately waltz-like). In both Dina blended virtuosity with poetic insight.
The Liszt Hungarian Rhapsody which ended her recital was full of fiery passion, highly dramatic in its sharp contrasts and in the fistfuls of notes flung with such exhilarating and thrilling energy towards the audience.
Read at the Nottingham Post