Reviews

Michael Endres

Lindis Taylor


The Mulled Wine Concert, Michael Endres, Paekakariki, January 28, 2012

Last Sunday, at one of the world’s very few concert halls that stand only 50 metres from a sparkling surf beach, the year’s series of high class musical concerts was launched.

Paekakariki’s celebrated Mulled Wine Concerts started with a piano recital by Michael Endres, currently professor of piano at Canterbury University; sadly, he is returning to Germany soon.

A special piano was obtained for the concert – a Schimmel, from Auckland, courtesy of several local sponsors. Getting it to Paekakariki by Sunday was beset by a series of problems and mishaps and only efforts by Mainfreight staff and by the piano tuner, far beyond the call of duty, saw the piano in place and tuned in time.

The hard wood surfaces of the hall can make it difficult to control piano sound and this indeed proved troublesome at times

But it never obscured the essential quality of the piano or Endres's superb interpretations of the music, much of which demands fairly exuberant and energetic playing. The encore – Chopin’s gentle, exquisite Barcarolle – perhaps suffered most from the acoustic.

The concert began with six of Mendelssohn’s Songs without Words (Op 19, one of six sets). Many of them have been permanent favourites since they were published and Endres’s treatment of the charming, romantic pieces would have brought back memories as well as admiration for the subtle handling of the moods, rhythmic changes and, yes, the dynamic variations inherent in the music and brilliantly rendered by the pianist.

It surprised many and confused some when, at the end of the last piece – a Venetian gondola song – Endres launched into Schubert’s Sonata without pause, or waiting for applause. Perhaps he wanted to draw attention to the kinship between Schubert and Mendelssohn, which indeed is plainly there in the warm-hearted G major sonata. The playing of Schubert demands a special sensibility and Endres’s playing was in perfect sympathy with the composer. The last movement, Allegretto, was a special delight, as the mix of grandeur and optimism emerged vividly from his hands.

Perhaps the most looked-forward-to work was Schumann’s Carnaval, a sustained collection of thematically-linked vignettes depicting puppet-theatre figures as well as portraits of friends and loves and his own inventions. It’s one of the most joyous creations in all music and, as Endres demonstrated at Parekakariki, responds marvellously to the most hair-raisingly virtuosic performance.


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