Barbara Manning is a much loved local pianist.
She has been active as a soloist and accompanist in the Hertford and Ware districts for many a year. We always like to fill the Quaker meeting hall with an appreciative audience in order to foster the chemical reaction which takes place when live music is made; we were not disappointed when Barbara had the pleasure of playing to a near capacity audience.
I am going to entitle this concert ‘Barbara Manning – Musical Mountaineer’!
The distant peak she had in mind to conquer was the Sonata in B Minor by Franz Liszt. The actual scaling of this pinnacle was reserved for the second half of the concert. The first half was made up of music in the foothills of the mountain.
Barbara put her best foot forward with a sprightly rendition of Haydn’s famous D major sonata, her agile runs (especially in the left-hand!) reflected some of the composer’s warmth and humour. By way of introduction Barbara mentioned his visit to Hertford those years ago – what fun it would have been to have met him!
Barbara’s serious warm up for the ascent was firstly via Chopin with his Impromptu No 2, followed by a portrayal of February and Carnival time from Tchaikovsky’s ‘The Seasons’. The Chopin displayed Barbara ‘s mastery of the Romantic style and the Tchaikovsky showed that a lot could be made of what the composer restively described as his ‘pancake’ music demanded by his publisher on a monthly basis.
Barbara then played the Variations on a Theme by Corelli – a sort of final tone up before heading for the distant peak. This was an ideal choice for the event as she proved that her technique and sensitivity to dynamic shading we were up to the task in hand
After the interval it was time to listen to one of the major piano works of the Romantic period. Barbara divulged that this was her first ever performance of the Sonata in B Minor by Franz Liszt. One could not help wondering at Barbara’s drive and daring as her fingers raced madly up and down the keys, especially in the lengthy and complex fugue which brought the sonata to a close. One felt that the act of listening was as challenging as that of playing this monumental work.
A smile of satisfaction was written on her face as Barbara rose to receive a mighty accolade. A relaxing encore was the second prelude of the set of three by Gershwin – a bit like sharing some Kendal mint cake at this summit of musical achievement. Well done Barbara and come again soon!
To relive Barbara’s recital, or to see a snippet of what you may have missed, please click on the play icon in the following video:
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