Aftermath: Art in the Wake of World War One at Tate Britain

 

Tate Britain’s survey of the impact of the First World War on art in Britain, France and Germany, opens with a series of iconic images of the conflict. Jacob Epstein’s Terminator-like torso in bronze from his ‘The Rock Drill’ of 1913-14 is as arresting as ever. There are photographs of shattered cathedrals, helmets dented by shrapnel and post-war Illustrated Michelin Guides to the Battlefields of France. There are Henry Tonks’s unforgettable pastel drawings showing facial injury cases before treatment. Less familiar will be German works such as Wilhelm Lehmbruck’s sculpture ‘Fallen Man’, made for the cemetery of his hometown of Duisburg – humanity crawling away on all fours to die.

Art’s role in documenting and memorializing the war is admirably conveyed, although there’s not much here that you won’t see on a visit to the permanent collections of the Imperial War Museum. What I didn’t come away with was much sense of the personal response of artists to the events of 1914-18.

 

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Otto Dix (1891-1969), War: Skull 1924, etching on paper 257 x 195 mm The George Economou Collection. © Estate of Otto Dix 2018

 

Take Paul Nash, for example, one of several artists who were left with psychological scars once the fighting had ended. Nash spent the early 1920s recovering from ‘war strain’ at Dymchurch on the edge of Romney Marsh, where he painted a series of haunting landscapes, laden with a sense of emptiness and despair. There are stories of Nash staring fixedly out to sea for hours on end, often at night, as if looking into an abyss. On the whole, I’d rather have seen one of those Dymchurch seascapes than another vitrine filled with trench paraphernalia.

And what about the artists who were actually killed in the war? The best-known cases are the French sculptor Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, the German painters Franz Marc and August Macke, and the British painter-poet Isaac Rosenberg. Marc in particular, like Macke a co-founder of Der Blaue Reiter and only 36 when he died at Verdun in 1916, was a huge loss to art. Yet none of these names are even mentioned in the Tate show.

In Room 4 (of eight) there’s an abrupt change of gears and the rest of the show is a whistle-stop tour of the main movements in post-war art, from the angry counterblasts of Dada & Surrealism to the considerably more lyrical mood of the so-called ‘Return to Order’. In the last two rooms there’s an equally breathless attempt to chronicle the war’s impact on society by looking at Neue Sachlichkeit (‘New Objectivity’), Bauhaus and life in ‘the New City’.

 

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Christian Schad 1894 – 1982, Self-Portrait 1927 Oil on wood 760 x 620 mm, lent from a private collection 1994 © Christian Schad Stiftung Aschaffenburg/VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn and DACS, London 2017

 

‘Aftermath’ feels like two exhibitions sandwiched together, one that can’t make up its mind if it’s teaching us that ‘war is hell’ or simply trying to unravel the complexities of post-war art. Worse, all the blood and gore in the early rooms makes the classicizing trend of the 1920s seem frivolous, which it certainly was not (as the Tate itself demonstrated in a landmark exhibition in 1990, ‘On Classic Ground: Picasso, Léger, de Chirico and the New Classicism 1910-1930’).

The Germans are the ones who come out on top in all this, whether it’s the existential Angst of Beckmann and Kollwitz, the mordant satire of Grosz and Dix, the sinister decadence of Christian Schad’s portraits or the weird geometric automata of Oskar Schlemmer. Perhaps the post-war upheavals in German society, far more pervasive than in either Britain or France, provided better take-off points for art. Or maybe they were better artists. In any case, although Germany may have lost the war, in a cultural sense it was the undoubted victor. Until the Nazis showed up, of course.

NM

 

‘Aftermath’ at Tate Britain (to 23 September 2018)

 

Header image: Jacob Epstein (1880-1959), Torso in Metal from “The Rock Drill” 1913-14 bronze 705 x 584 x 445 mm, Tate © The Estate of Jacob Epstein

 

A Great Spectacle: a revved up RA Summer Exhibition & opening of new gallery spaces

Royal Academy of Arts, Piccadilly, London W1

The RA Summer Exhibition, 250 years old this year, is as English as strawberries and cream, Wimbledon tennis, and wasps at a summer picnic. It’s a key part of the summer season and is the world’s most democratic art show: any one can submit work, from professional artists to Sunday painters. Twenty years ago, my mother achieved a long-held dream and had three prints accepted for the Summer Show (this coincided with the birth of my son, her grandson, so it was a particularly special summer for her!). I’ve been going to the Summer Exhibition, initially with my artist mother, and latterly with friends and my co-reviewer NM for years now. It’s a curious beast – the format is essentially unchanged, but in recent years the exhibition has been coordinated by a leading artist, who, along with the hanging committee, brings a personal vision to the show. In fact, the unchanging format of the exhibition always leads NM and I to ponder “what will this year’s show be like?” as we make our way to Burlington House.

On the occasion of the exhibition’s quarter-millennium birthday, this year’s coordinator is Academician, Turner Prize winner and lovable National Treasure Grayson Perry, and his love of colour and keen, but largely benign, eye on the paradoxes of modern society and its social mores, has resulted in a significantly zhuzhed up show. It’s vibrant, witty and joyful, with much to amuse and delight, and also give pause for more serious reflection on where we are today: there are two works concerning Grenfell Tower and a Brexit piece by Bansky in the same room (its walls painted sunshine yellow) as a rather pompous picture of Nigel Farage (beneath – perhaps significantly, depending on how you wish to read it – a picture of a dog vomiting). These on point juxtapositions combined with a show pulsating with vivid colours, textures and vibrant imagination make this the best Summer Exhibition I have seen in years.

 

 

 

Added to that the 250th anniversary marks the opening of expanded galleries, and the Summer Exhibition takes the visitor on an intriguing meander through some of the new spaces. The RA acquired the building on Burlington Gardens which used to house the Museum of Mankind, an elegant Victorian pile, and it’s been transformed thanks to architect David Chipperfield into a pale and interesting gallery space, and increasing the RA’s footprint by 70%.

An elegant bridge joins Burlington House with the Burlington Gardens building. Visitors descend via the original garden steps, uncovered and set alongside cool shiny terrazzo. In this exhibition space, there are paintings, prints, drawings and sculptures (including two fascinating anatomical sculptures) from the RA collection, works not previously displayed, to remind the visitor that this is also an art school – an academy. A large, uber modern picture window offers a glimpse into what was once an unseen yard, now attratively laid out by landscape architects Wirtz: when finished, it’s going to be really wonderful. From here, you can also appreciate the rear of Burlington House and the scale of the building, before proceeding into the expanded gallery space. Visitors can appreciate not only the well-proportioned public rooms, but also the “below stairs” details such as the 18th-century brick vaults, which have been beautifully restored. The loos are pretty stunning too – sleek steel cubicles set in a room to delight any bricklayer worth his salt (I know my builder, Hugh, would appreciate the craftsmanship and skill of his 18th-century counterparts).

Back to the Summer Exhibition, and not content to be confined to the main gallery, the show spills out into the courtyard of Burlington House, with a giant sculpture by Anish Kapoor, and beyond – onto Piccadilly and the surrounding streets. Look up and you’ll see colourful flags designed by leading Academicians fluttering in the summer breeze (read more here). It’s clear that as coordinator of this year’s show, Perry has done wonders for it – no longer a rather worthy trudge through contemporary art, it’s now a vibrant celebration of creativity and imagination and I hope this sets a positive precedent for future years.

Recommended

FW

 

Poor David Griffiths, he only wanted to see his respectful portrait of Nigel Farage hanging in the 250th Summer Exhibition. According to his website, Griffiths is ‘one of Wales’ most well-known portrait painters…trained at The Slade School of Art… under the direction of Sir William Coldstream, Sir Ernst Gombrich and Sir Anthony Blunt’. Impressive credentials indeed. Still, it doesn’t hurt to get some national coverage. So why did they have to go and stick ‘Farage’ underneath a picture of a dog throwing up and next to a giant fibreglass sculpture of the Pink Panther?

The Royal Academy, it would be fair to say, has evolved since the days when a former president, Sir Alfred Munnings, offered to horsewhip Picasso in the name of art; you couldn’t argue that the RA, one of our most prestigious cultural institutions, had to be dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century. All the same, Grayson Perry was an inspired choice to chair this year’s selection committee, because if you need someone to blow away the residual cobwebs, Perry’s the man. Only don’t expect him to take things too seriously.

Perry, with characteristic pizzazz, has used the raw material of the ‘send ins’ (including, it must be admitted, some right old tat) to deliver a droll commentary on the world of art, and indeed the world generally, in 2018. There’s sterling support for this project from Perry’s co-curators, including Phyllida Barlow, Conrad Shawcross and Cornelia Parker, and an impressive line-up of guest artists, among them Anthony Gormley, Anish Kapoor, Ed Ruscha, Bruce Nauman and Anselm Kiefer.

Don’t miss the Sackler Gallery, on the second floor, which this year has been made over to printmaking, and where among other things you’ll will see an intaglio print by Queen Sonja of Norway no less. This I find deeply symbolic. Thirty years ago, the best we could hope for from royalty would have been a fussy little Prince Charles watercolour accompanied by much bowing and scraping from Sir Hugh Casson. But – guess what? – Queen Sonja actually has talent. She’s also, for good measure, a member of Europe’s funkiest dynasty: last year she and King Harald celebrated their 80th birthdays with a surfing holiday in South Africa.

NM

Chris Orr MBE RA /The Fauves Picnic/Silkscreen 55 x 75cm John Bodkin / Dawkinscolour

Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, 12 June – 19 August

Full details

 

Header image: Michael Landy RA, Closing Down Sale, Mixed media and audio (Image courtesy the artist and Thomas Dane Gallery, © Michael Landy)

My Favourite Things: A Word in Your Shell-like

Aporrhais Pespelecani is a marine snail, the thing that lives inside a seashell, a little mollusk that can be found from the Norwegian coast to the shores of the Mediterranean. It has a very pleasing shape, which seems designed to fit into the human hand – a deep bowl, and 3 or 4 spiny ‘fingers’, radiating out like the struts in the webbed foot of – well, a pelican, which is how the snail gained its name.

 

It can also be found in Gallery 156 of the Metropolitan Museum.

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About 500 years BCE, a workshop somewhere in Greece or in its islands began sculpting these shells in marble. We have no idea how many were made, but only a very few have survived (the British Museum has one; so has the Getty), and given how complex and delicate the shape would have been to sculpt, maybe all of them were the work of one single workshop, maybe of one single mind that saw the natural original, washed up on a beach somewhere, and was inspired, and worked at the design, and then worked at it some more, until they had perfected it. They made it bigger than the shell is in life, so this one, if you were to hold it, would project either end of your palm, with the tips of your fingers fitting between the spines.

 

This is far and away the finest of the survivors. The marble it is carved from is snow-white, and has tiny sparkles of quartz in it, like snow again. As you crane your head to see all the way around it, held upright in its  display case, you begin to realize how magically put-together is the shape – the soft round of the bowl, the delicate spines, the tiny whorl at one end (a separate piece, like the stopper to a bottle), the flat lip at the other. The way all these shapes fit together is half the enchantment of the piece. The other half is what it tells us of us, that human impulse to take something from nature, and recreate it, give it new form, give it rebirth as art, and how that defines us and has propelled us forward from all those centuries ago to what we are today.

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Its surface tells of a final chapter in its history. The marble has been eroded by the action of water and sand. This shell that is not a shell was returned to the ocean at some point, which took the bright paint that would once have covered it (there’s a tiny trace left, on the whorl), and gave it its foamy whiteness, and wore at its spines, just as it would have done a real Aporrhais. In other words, it is so beautiful, it fooled even the sea.

Real Pelican’s Foot shells, with that suggestive, hand-friendly shape, were used as libation vessels, and then maybe cast back into the sea. Their carved marble cousins were probably made for the same purpose. Perfected, painted, used – and cast back into the element that inspired it. Everything about this is as perfect and organic a whole as it is possible for a work of art to be.

JCH

 

Favourite things: Wigmore Hall, London

The first in an occasional series in which ArtMuseLondon reviewers select favourite art works, places, music…….

Wigmore Hall, nestling unobtrusively just a stone’s throw from the bustle and litter of Oxford Street in a row of tall Edwardian façades, is London’s pre-eminent venue for chamber music, song recitals and solo piano concerts. It was built to provide the city with a venue that was impressive yet intimate enough for recitals of chamber music. With near-perfect acoustics, the hall quickly became celebrated across Europe and featured many of the great artistes of the 20th century.

Originally called Bechstein Hall, it was built by the German piano manufacturer Carl Bechstein, whose busy showroom was next door, and opened on 31 May 1901. At the turn of the twentieth century, Carl Bechstein was Europe’s leading piano maker, its instruments preferred by most pianists outside America, where Steinway predominated. The Bechstein piano company built similar concert halls in Paris and St Petersburg to showcase its instruments and the leading performers and singers of the day. With its special barrel roofed oblong design, beloved of many musicians, the hall boasts a fine acoustic, while its small size (its capacity is c600 seats) makes it the perfect place to enjoy intimate chamber recitals.

bechstein-hall

When it opened, Bechstein Hall was promoted as the best of places for intimate music making, and boasted unrivaled comfort and facilities for patrons and artists with its elegant green room up a short flight of stairs behind the stage (so that singers did not arrive on stagBechstein Hall programmee breathless). At the time of its opening, concert life and leisure in general in London were enjoying something of a revolution. Theatres and music halls were opening across the west end, a wide public was being introduced to the experience of shopping for pleasure in the new “department stores” (Selfridges is a mere 10 minute walk, at the most, from Wigmore Street), and with cheap and efficient public transport, it was easy for people to enjoy these delights in the centre of the metropolis. A new breed of international concert promoters, agents and impresarios, such as Robert Newman, who with conductor Henry Wood founded the world-famous Proms, were dedicated to organising high-quality recitals, and Bechstein Hall alone scheduled two hundred concerts. The opening concert featured the virtuoso pianist and composer Ferruccio Busoni and violinist Eugène Ysaÿe; soon London’s concert-going populace were flocking to Bechstein Hall to see Frank Merrick and Leopold Godowsky, Artur Schnabel, Chopin specialist Vladimir de Pachmann, Camille Saint-Saens, Max Reger and ‘Valkyrie of the Piano’, the Venezuelan lady pianist Teresa Carreňo. The hall continues to enjoy special associations with leading international performers to this day.

The hall was designed by architect Thomas Edward Collcutt who also designed the Savoy Hotel on the Strand. The interior is Renaissance style, with marble and alabaster walls, and above the small bell-shaped stage is a beautiful Arts and Crafts frieze designed by Edward Moira depicting the Soul of Music. In the lights of the hall, the frieze vibrates with the burnished radiance of a Byzantine mosaic.

WigmoreHallInterior-3

During the First World War, it became increasingly difficult for Bechstein Hall to trade viably. Strong anti-German sentiments and the passing of the Trading with the Enemy Amendment Act 1916 led in June 1916 to the hall’s closure, and all property including the concert hall and the showrooms was seized and summarily closed. The hall was sold at auction to Debenhams, was rechristened Wigmore Hall and opened under its new name in 1917.

Alongside its reputation for chamber music of the highest quality, the Wigmore’s audience is famous for its loyalty, intelligence and discernment. It is considered by many musicians to be one of the most demanding audiences of any international concert hall, which brings its own unique set of pressures, and many performers will play a programme in regional venues and for local music societies before “doing a Wigmore”. But the hall holds a special place in the affections of many performers, who regard it as their artistic home in London.

There are no rough edges in this beautifully proportioned, perfect shoe-box of a hall, no jarring modern architectural details to confuse and distract. The tread of the thick crimson carpets is complimented by the red Verona marble frieze, the bustle of Oxford Street and the West End forgotten in the spacious vestibule and elegant green room. Whether playing at the Wigmore or being in the audience, one feels a sense of history, of heritage, for the Wigmore inhabits a different era and ethos to other concert venues in London. All the time one is aware of the great performances that have taken place in the hall, and the walls of the green room are lined with photographs confirming the heritage of the hall: Rachmaninoff scowling, as if the last thing he wanted to do was play the piano, Britten’s severe stare, Tippett’s twinkling eyes.

Vikram Seth’s “sacred shoebox”* is also my sacred space, and when I walk through the glass doors into the vestibule, usually having battled against home-going commuters (everyone going the opposite way to me!), I feel a palpable release of tension. As a member of the audience, attending a concert at the Wigmore has its own special rituals from the moment one steps through the glass doors. The richly-carpeted vestibule is a place where people meet, queue for tickets, purchase programmes, CDs or magazines. Sometimes if you arrive early, you might hear the soloist warming up or the piano tuner making some final adjustments, and that can lend an extra frisson to the evening, a tantalising hint of what is to come. Downstairs the bars and restaurant resonate with lively pre-concert conversations, and sometimes when I am there with friends we might spot a “musical celebrity” – Steven Isserlis, Alfred Brendel, Julian Lloyd Webber. I usually arrive in good time for drinks and chat with friends before the audience bell summons us to the hall and we happily sink into the plush comfort of the crimson seats. In the auditorium, in the moments before the concert begins, one senses the great collective breath of the audience’s expectation.

In 2006, attending a concert of piano music by Fryderyk Chopin by a British pianist I’d never encountered before, the Wigmore Hall took on an additional significance for me, signalling the start of an at times intense and deeply-felt friendship with the pianist who played that night. It was a difficult period in my adult life, a time when I realised, with a shock, that the boundaries of one’s emotional life are not completely impermeable, but ultimately it led, indirectly, to my writing about music for my blog The Cross-Eyed Pianist and in concert reviews, and to taking up the piano again seriously in my 40s. In fact, on reflection, Wigmore Hall rather than pianist had the greater influence: the place provides me with ongoing pleasure and stimulation, and I attend a concert there at least twice a month.

People, usually those who have never stepped inside the Wigmore let alone enjoyed a concert there, grumble about the great age of the audience, but this fiercely loyal audience is what makes the hall – for without an audience there is no such thing as a “concert”. In fact, the Wigmore audience is getting younger and more diverse as the hall has broadened its remit. Today, in addition to lunchtime, evening and Sunday morning “coffee concerts” (where the ever-popular sherry is served after the concert), Wigmore Hall offers a lively education programme, music for small babies and toddlers, and “Wigmore Lates”, concerts which start at 10pm and include not just classical music but jazz and folk too. There are masterclasses and study days with leading performers and composers on subjects such as Schubert’s last piano sonatas and coping with performance anxiety. And on the annual London Open House Weekend visitors can explore the backstage area and even take to the stage, momentarily at least, and maybe dream of playing to a full house…..

FW

 

*Vikram Seth – ‘An Equal Music’


wigmore-hall.org.uk

 

 

Tunnel Music – Eos Trio at Brunel Museum

The ArtMuseLondon team ventured to Rotherhithe Wednesday night for a fine concert in a most unusual venue  – the massive iron shaft down to the Thames tunnel, the first road tunnel under the river, conceived and built by Marc Brunel, and his then unknown  son, Isambard Kingdom. Known as the Eighth Wonder of the World, the tunnel – the first in the world under a major river –  opened in 1843 and hundreds of thousands of people walked through it in its first weeks. Originally the entrance hall to the tunnel, the shaft later provided ventilation from the steam trains which ran beneath, and many vestiges of its earlier role remain, from the soot-scorched walls with their crumbling stucco to the rumble of Overground trains which now run below in the original tunnel. The space was converted to a performance venue in 2016, complete with a freestanding cantilevered staircase (designed by architects Tate Harmer) of which Brunel, father and son, would be justly proud.

The space has a surprisingly good acoustic – with such a high ceiling it’s akin to a large church – and is atmospherically lit to create an intriguing and intimate concert space. But take a cardigan or wrap as, despite the warm evening, inside the shaft was distinctly chilly!

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Formed in 2017, Eos Trio (Angela Najaryan, Paul Evernden and Jelena Makarova) are a violin, clarinet and piano trio, all alumni of the Royal Academy of Music. They have a passion for both new and older repertoire, and their programme for the evening reflected this, beginning with a Sonata by CPE Bach (arranged for their combination of instruments by Paul Evernden), Arvo Pärt’s Frâtres for violin and piano, a new work by Greek composer Dimitris Maragopulos for clarinet and piano, and Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time (for which the trio were joined by Canadian cellist Daryl Giuliano).

This was a most interesting concert, and once one’s ears had tuned in to the rather unusual, echoey acoustic and the strange rumblings and other “noises off” from the railway beneath, it proved an absorbing evening of music, sensitively and imaginatively played. Being so close to the music made it all the more powerful, especially the Messiaen, where the stark venue served as a reminder of the place where the Quartet was originally composed and premiered (a German prisoner of war camp). But this concert wasn’t just about the music – the venue was an integral part of the performance, providing a dramatic backdrop to some of the most spiritually profound music of the 20th century.

 

FW


Eos Trio

Brunel Museum

Just add water: Monet and Architecture at the National Gallery

Monet was born a city-boy, in Paris, but grew up to be the great philosopher-artist of the rural (haystacks) and the bucolic (his lily-pond). Aside from his mirage-like studies of the front of Rouen cathedral, you don’t think of him in relation to architecture, or as having been inspired by the hustle and bustle of city life. Correcting that impression (forgive the pun) is just one of the reasons to visit this deeply satisfying, gently surprising show.

A while ago, it seemed any London gallery finding itself short of cash would schedule a ‘can’t fail’ Impressionism show – until some of them did. The public, it turns out, does know when a pot of paint is being flung at them. But the National Gallery’s show – carefully considered, strongly themed, beautifully paced, and including a number of works rarely if ever seen in London – demonstrates how it should be done. It also rather daringly does it without wall-text. So if it’s important to you to know the title or date of what you’re looking at, you’ll need the audio guide. The show, however, makes perfect sense without.

I want to paint the air”, Monet declared in 1895, and in works such as Fog Effect of 1875, a painting which I simply fell in love with, there and then, did just that.

Effet de brouillard, 1872
Fog Effect (Effet de brouillard), 1872, 47 × 73.7 cm, Mr Joseph D. Conté and Mrs Lynn Von Freter Conté, © Photo courtesy of the owner

His words might put you in mind of Hockney’s Yorkshire landscapes, painting the atmosphere weighing down on the land; the painting certainly will. Suddenly Monet stands in a new relation not only to Hockney but to Millet, and Millet’s scenes of stubbly French fields. Other bits of artistic connective tissue, made visible here, link him to Dutch landscape painting, to Turner, and to Whistler’s London riverscapes above all – indeed, you start to imagine that the two of them must almost have been painting away on the banks of the Thames, easels almost side-by-side, even if a good couple of decades separate their river-scapes.

Charing Cross Bridge, reflets sur la Tamise, 1899-1901
Charing Cross Bridge, Reflections on the Thames (Charing Cross Bridge, reflets sur la Tamise), 1899-1901, 65 × 100 cm, The Baltimore Museum of Art, The Helen and Abram Eisenberg Collection, BMA 1945.94, © The Baltimore Museum of Art / Photography By: Mitro Hood

The show also makes you reconsider quite how deliberate and structured Monet’s works were, for all their evanescent, catch-the-moment qualities. He worked out what he wanted to do and how to do it in canvas after canvas, in a series of precise experiments – portraits of backyards, of train stations, of churches and boulevards in different lights, palettes, and weather. What the city and its architecture gave him was life and energy and movement on the surface; the work all goes on underneath. It also gave him steam, rain, snow, fog and pollution – water in every scintillating, evanescent, structure-dissolving form. When he retired to Giverny (the show ends of course with the National Gallery’s own Water-Lily Pond of 1899), you wonder if this was because with failing eyesight, the softer forms of nature were easier to interpret than those of hard architecture. But even there, water was still the key.

JCH


Monet & Architecture, National Gallery, London

Until 29 July 2018

Iconoclassics with Anthony Hewitt – Classical music in an iconic jazz venue

The Jazz Room in Barnes, SW London, affectionately known as “the suburban Ronnie’s Scotts” (and almost as longstanding as the eponymous Soho jazz club), resonated to a different vibe on Sunday evening when internationally-renowned pianist Anthony Hewitt – an artist more used to playing in hallowed gilded spaces such as the Wigmore or Carnegie Halls – gave a concert of classical music by Bach, Brahms, Debussy, Ravel and Gershwin – all performed on the Yamaha upright piano which resides in the Jazz Room. It’s a very good piano, but it ain’t a Steinway model D!

Yet such is Anthony’s skill and sensitively that he wrought myriad sounds and colours from the modest instrument – and somehow listening to Bach (Partita No. 1) in a venue normally reserved for jazz, one suddenly becomes hyper-aware of all the jazzy syncopations and offbeat rhythms inherent in Bach’s writing.

The piano music of Brahms, more usually heard on a modern concert grand, had a lightness which lent a greater poignancy and tenderness to his Op 119 piano pieces; while in Debussy’s Estampes multi-layered lines and textures were revealed.

The second half of the concert swung to the sounds of Ravel’s decadent and sensuous La Valse and Gershwin’s Rhapsody in blue, his vibrant and exhilarating evocation of the melting pot of America and the sounds of the big city. Anthony did a remarkable job in drawing so much colourful sound out of the Yamaha upright to achieve brilliant results.

For the audience, the small size of the Jazz Room means one gets up and close and personal with music and performer in a way which is never possible in a larger or more formal venue. Such closeness creates a very special sense of communication and shared experience between audience and performer, and throughout the concert there was a very palpable sense of people listening really intently – a great compliment to the music and the pianist. In addition, Anthony introduced the music engagingly and audience members were able to meet and chat to him after the performance. As one audience member remarked “the Jazz room is a real gem and now to start a classical series there is an added bonus”.

The concert was billed as “Iconoclassics”, paying homage to the Jazz Room’s iconic status as one of London’s leading jazz venues. More like this please!

The Iconoclast returns…… Anthony Hewitt performs at the Jazz Room on Sunday 26th August. Further information and tickets www.7stararts.com

 

7 Star Arts says: audiences can enjoy more classical music, fused with jazz, world and original compositions on 10 April when pianist and composer Helen Anahita Wilson makes her Jazz Room debut. Book tickets