A MUSICAL EDUCATION, IN HARROW.
The Harrow Summer Music Festival 2022 started on Thursday, 14 July, at 12:30 p.m., at St. John’s Church, Greenhill, Harrow. Its first recital of the series was entitled A Musical Education, and the performers were Paul Wood (violin) and Mark Wilson (piano).
The programme, as the title suggested, was dedicated to progress in the musical educational journey, starting with easier works and ending with more complex ones.
The first set of pieces was called 3 Pieces from “Stringtastic” (a series of books for beginner string players, co-authored by Mr Wood and Mr Wilson). They were entitled Song, Light of The Moon and Worm Dance. I enjoyed the beautiful, almost pastoral writing, full of shimmering colours.
This was followed by Six Very Easy Pieces, Op. 22, by Sir Edward Elgar. These are very short pieces, written by the legendary English composer. They were beautifully played, with a clean tone by Mr Wood, and warm playing from Mr Wilson – who is actually a violinist, but does enjoy playing the piano in his spare time … this was, in fact, the first time where he played the piano (and only the piano) for the full length of the recital itself.
2 Pieces by Mark Wilson (Rachel’s Waltz – written for a student – and Clear Blue Water) followed. The waltz was a rather melancholy piece, whilst the second piece brought out some lovely, clear, transparent tone from Mr Wood.
Air Varie no. 5, Op. 88 by Charles Dancla was then followed by the Sonata in E minor, K. 304, by W. A. Mozart. The Dancla Air is a well-known piece for intermediate students of the violin. Mr Wood gave it a clear performance, with excellent intonation, even if the tone colour was a little too childlike for my taste. Mr Wilson complemented Mr Wood’s playing with some absolutely beautiful timbres and colours, at the piano. The Mozart Sonata showed some great bow control from Mr Wood, though I would have preferred more light and shade in the second movement.
Three Pieces from Schindler’s List, by John Williams, followed. These are small works that are easy to play, but hard to master. I found the violin tone still too childlike, at first, for me; however, Mr Wood displayed great control in tone and dynamics. The pieces were made famous by the world-class violinist, Itzhak Perlman. This was a different, much more introverted interpretation, to my ears, than Perlman’s, but it worked – and that is what I believe matters. The quality of the tone in the violin improved with time, and the performance was clear and well structured, with communicated vibrato and always great intonation from Mr Wood. The piano playing, for its part, was beautiful throughout, with a great variety of colours from Mr Wilson, once more.
Tangled Tango, by Mark Wilson, closed the advertised programme. This Argentinian-style piece, also written for a student, could have done with more South American fire, for me, from Mr Wood – I felt he played it a little too safe and a little too proper, for my taste. Mr Wilson, however, was absolutely brilliant, I thought, at the piano, in this piece as well as throughout the recital – I would love to hear him more in an accompanist role.
Lastly, we had a brief encore; a piece by Mark Wilson, depicting the dancing of a worm, underground. This was well played by both performers, and served to close a recital where the emphasis was very much on musical education rather than exclusively on musical performance.
The next concert of the series is on Thursday, 21 July 2022, at 12:30 p.m., where Julian Saphir (piano)’s programme of works by Robert Schumann and Franz Liszt should ensure that the focus will be fully back on the performance element of giving a recital. I look very much forward to it.