Improvising at the keyboard is a skill which was very common up to the time of the 20th century and Beethoven was probably the king of improvisers in his time. After that time the skill of improvising was chiefly at the organ in the main cathedrals of Europe but fortunately there has been a revival of improvising at the piano this century.
The club had invited Douglas Finch, Professor of improvising at Trinity College London to lead a small workshop at the club as the first part of his recital. Two pianists, young Carrie Craig together with Peter Sheldon, were put through their paces by their mentor. Douglas showed them how to step out of their comfort zones and be a little daring: they should both be congratulated on their efforts in that direction within a very limited time frame.
Following the interval Douglas amazed us with his rendition of three classical masterpieces — firstly a late work by the gifted Spanish composer- Albeniz called ‘Evocacion’ ; this was followed by a dreamy postlude featuring well-known Spanish melodies – then a work by Beethoven; his variations on ‘God save the King’ became very much Douglas’ own work especially in the postlude when he managed to combine this melody with ‘Raindrops keep falling on your head’ plus the European Union anthem. The 4th Ballade by Frederic Chopin was given a rousing interpretation after a moody introductory improvisation. The true fun part of the recital was Douglas’s creation of medleys on the spot much hilarity was caused by his superb salad of themes.
Harold Chaplin, Chairman
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