Rebirth of Reason


The Dinner Party

Saturday 18 Decemberl at 19:00 BST


St Martin-in-the-Fields
Thursday 15 April at 7.30pm 

Liszt Hungarian Rhapsody No.2 in D minor
Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No.2 in C minor, op.18
Dvorák Symphony No.9 in E minor, op.95 (From the New World)

Piano Panos Karan

Notes from Front Row, stage right:

Sharing a piece of cake is sadly a zero sum game, sharing a concert is not. So it was unfortunately wasteful that I went to this concert alone.


I asked for a seat with a view of the piano (since I play as well as your Grandma - a comparison that works irrespective of her musical ability). The layout in this famous Church meant that I was seated within arms-length of, possibly, the 5th violinist. This was somewhat distracting, probably for both of us, as I spent the evening following his score.


The London Soloists Chamber Orchestra is a refreshingly enthusiastic bunch; not quite youthful, but a great mix of experience and freshness. I have been to a few of their other concerts and have always enjoyed them unreservedly. The smaller venues they perform in allow an intimate connection between the audience and the players (in a most proper sense). The added benefit is that the sound is not exhausted in an acoustic odyssey to find the audience.


So, the performance: The first on the list was the Hungarian Rhapsody. I am not "up on" Liszt as a whole and so was pleasantly surprised that the orchestration was not simply a piano-expansion (to invert a phrase). The London Soloists (what an inspiring name!) played this keenly, if somewhat casually to start with.


The piece evidently warmed everyone up for the main event, which was the Rachmaninov. Panos is a Greek chap in his early 20’s who came out with such a chilled-out smile that I thought for a moment that he mustn’t have realised he was going to play Rachmaninov in a few moments. Of course, once he started playing, it became evident that this was because he knew he could play Rachmaninov. A part from a little bit of trouble at the joins between soloist and orchestra (possible not enough quality time together beforehand), brilliant stuff. The audience rewarded the soloist with a well-deserved standing ovation. I'm certainly going to keep a look out for more performances from Panos.


After the interval I did have a moment where I deeply regretted Dvorak's failure to utilise a piano in his 9th symphony, and thus denying me another chance to hear Panos. What was he thinking! Then the orchestra’s hearty playing quite figuratively transported me to the New World. They loved it , we loved it; it was well loved.

All in all a great night was had by all involved. Next time we must make sure that more are involved!