A cold coming we had of it and there were to be no New Year fireworks to begin 2024 with at Chichester, not even in the Liszt. That was not Andrew Garrido’s style, not today at least. You won’t often hear Clair de lune begin more gently than it did under his thoughtful touch.
Debussy is the composer I hear most of, attending lunchtime recitals often based around a piano, and he established himself immediately by providing the first ‘live’ notes of the year in the Suite Bergamasque. The Prelude is as moonlit as its more famous part but maybe the sun rises at the end. The introspective mind wanders among a variety of rhythms in the Menuet before the delicacy of his crystalline greatest hit and then the Passepied is a brisker dance that Andrew made a little bit Chaplin-esque.
I was expecting Liszt being on the programme to warm the keyboard up but the Three Sonnets by Petrarch aren’t the outlandish showman Liszt at all. Andrew reflected on Petrarch’s lovesickness for the mysterious Laura and how we say ‘fall’ in love rather than ‘rise’ to it.
Sonnet 47 celebrates such suffering as,
the woodlands echo with her name;
The sighs, the tears, the languishment, the love
and we might have thought we were still with Debussy in these lush uncertainties.
Thomas Wyatt rendered 104 as,
I feare and hope, I bourne and freese lyke yse;
and, more demonstrative, wrapped in Rach-like rhapsody, it indulged itself in that feeling of being in love with being in love. And the halting tempo of 123 completed the set with immaculate sensitivity.
It was a gorgeous performance, understated only in the sense that it was not big and bold, but it wasn’t all over yet. ‘Guess the encore’ is an enjoyable game and even more so when one wins. God Only Knows was immediately recognizable but it couldn’t have been arranged by Rachmaninov or Liszt so maybe it was by Andrew Garrido and, yes, it was. More than worthy of a place on Face the Music, for those of a certain age who remember Joseph Cooper arranging well-known tunes in the style of famous composers, it is a wonderful piece in its own right. I don’t think I’ve ever been more overjoyed by an encore.
It’s all on again. I understand Chichester’s programmes are booked up into 2025. God only knows what I’d be without such things.