Jeffrey Grice : Events : Performances : Reviews : November 24 1996

Christchurch Review, Nov 24 1996

Pianist Jeffrey Grice at the Arts Centre's Great Hall

Jeffrey Grice, piano, at the Great Hall, Arts Centre of Christchurch, last night.

If, like Benjamin Britten, the piano music of Brahms makes you feel physically ill, the Great Hall would not have been the place to go yesterday afternoon.  For here was Brahms at its most ravishingly, shamelessly romantic, in the sensitive hands of pianist Jeffrey Grice.

The massive third piano sonata in F minor filled the first half. A thrusting forward momentum swept all before it, but not at the expense of the more reflective movements.   In these there were several sections of complete calm, with a lovely suspension of the driving storms of music that surrounded them.

The exciting final movement had great flourishes, and power that stayed comfortably away bom pomposity.  The dreamy andante seemed especially effective too, promising a golden touch in the Debussy that was to follow. Debussy's "Reverie" began in a rather matter-of-fact way, material beautifully, but simply, presented.  There was delicacy and refinement in abundance, though, and the shades of colour were magical. "D'un cahier d'esquisses" followed, leading on to a triumphant "Isle joyeuse", muscular and massive, yet still sensitive and alert to every nuance.

Rather than providing programme notes for each piece, Jeffrey Grice spoke about them at length and with obvious feeling for his subjects.  In his playing, an occasional whiff of heart-on-sleeve sentimentality would be the only charge that could possibly be brought.  Applause at this concert was curiously brief in the face of such manifest ability, yet an encore was offered, Ravel's "Jeux d'eau".  This was a sizzling display of colour and provided a memorable conclusion.

- Timothy Jones in Christchurch Press
November 24 1996


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