Valerie Tryon (biography) possesses an unbelievable capacity to store music in her brain; her repertoire of more than sixty concertos is enormous. Although she only landed at Heathrow on Thursday, she appeared to be unbelievably refreshed and more than ready to perform on Saturday night. She arrived shortly before the recital, dressed for the occasion, with no music scores, and barely practiced (although she did at least check the piano!). Most surprisingly she did not even appear to know what she was playing until she took a look at the programme for the evening – it having been put together not by her, but by her manager, Howard Greenwood. And Howard had generously put together a fabulously long programme of Scarlatti, Mozart, Chopin, Grieg, Liszt and Grunfeld which was colourful, diverse and kept us entertained all evening. Each half was about 50 minutes; in normal concerts you would get something like 35 – 40 minutes each, maximum. We were so privileged!
The two Scarlatti Sonatas with their acrobatic and gymnastic elements, which Valerie seemed to play without much effort, were perfect warm up pieces. Everybody must have wondered how she managed to cross hands so quickly without pressing the wrong keys! Mozart Sonata in A followed and I particularly liked the second movement Andante cantabile con espressione. Literally, it was a slow and beautifully expressive piece with singing tones.
Next Chopin: Valerie played Ballade No. 4 in F Minor, Scherzo No. 3 in C# Minor, and Polonaise in A Flat Major. Chopin is a very popular composer at Breinton, and this Ballade and this Polonaise have been played by three different pianists. Each musician had their own interpretation and I've loved them all. Ballade No. 4, my all time favourite, was wonderful. As I wrote in my review of Evelyne Berezovsky's recital two years ago, this ballade was described by the late John Ogdon as "the most exalted, intense and sublimely powerful of all Chopin's compositions... It is unbelievable that it lasts only twelve minutes, for it contains the experience of a lifetime". Indeed it was a life: full of sorrow, pain, dream, anger.