Friday, 13th February, at the H. Lavity Stoutt Community College, British Virgin Islands!
by Derry Etkins
I was a bit late for the 8:00 p.m. start by fifteen minutes. Ten minutes after I was admitted into the acoustically pleasing auditorium, the introductory remarks were read by our host for the evening.
In typical concert style, Mr. Richard Ormrod strode onto the stage, looking very dapper in his bow-tie and tails, took his bow and began his performance.
His first offering, Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue in D-Minor by J. S. Bach, established him as a forward-thinking interpreter of Baroque music.
His subtle, sparing but effective use of the pedal will contribute to the on-going debate as to the appropriateness of playing Baroque music on the modern piano. There is also discussion about how much “modernisation,” in terms of actually using the pedal, we can or should apply to Baroque music. Mr. Ormrod followed this sterling performance with two pieces by Thomas Arne, another composer of the same period, and then for good measure, ended the first half of the evening with the French Suite #5 in G major by Bach.
The question I then had to ask myself was this: Was I treated to four sterling performances, or was I treated to a sterling performance of one long piece? My answer would be that the programme could have been a lot more varied.
The second half of this Classics recital began with Suite for Piano, Opus 14, by Bela Bartok, a twentieth century composer. On this one, Mr. Ormrod seemed to be reaching for a sound, which the piano could not provide. Either that, or he could not coax the sound he wanted out of the instrument. Regardless, the fullness of sound required, or expected for music of this era, did not come forth.
The evening was brought to a close with selections from Davisbundertanze, Opus 6, by Romantic composer, Robert Schumann. These miniatures made one think of “piano lessons.” It was as though we had the encore before we asked for it. Those are not “real” concert pieces, I am afraid. A performer only pulls them out of his hat to appease a greedy audience at the end of a performance.
I was heartened though to observe that the first of the “General Notices” at the back of the programme states, “…Thereafter, admittance will be allowed only at the end of the piece or at an intermission.” However, patrons were seen, and heard, entering the auditorium during one of Mr. Ormrod‘s pieces. This proved to be quite a distraction.
Over all, it was an evening well spent, and I look forward to the next performance in the fourteenth season in the Performing Arts Series, on March 20, 2009, that of Joy Cline Phinney (piano), Amadi Hummings (viola), and Vanessa Holroyd (flute).
Richard Ormrod is a British pianist who has won five major international competitions. He studied piano with Beate Popperwell, Michael Young, Rita Sloan, and Elisso Virsaladze and had additional coaching with Gyorgy Kurtag, Menahem Pressler, Ferenc Rados, Joseph Kalichstein and others. He serves on the piano faculty of the University of Wales in Cardiff, the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, and Trinity College, London.
Derry Etkins is a Musician/Educator whose career spans three decades, He has been a Radio Presenter and Music Commentator in Guyana and Barbados. Currently, he teaches music at a High School in the British Virgin Islands.