Blog - Review

St James's

Mark Darvill-Evans July 27, 2017

This was the ‘big one’- the largest concert to date: London church venue – check, prestigious connection to classical concerts – check, Fazioli piano – check. The setting was perfect, you could image the music drifting up to the stained glass and vaulted roof.

One point worth remembering is that a grand piano fills the room with sound better than the human voice – with the size of the audience we really should have used a microphone for the explanations and little histories of the music. But the music was what mattered most and that aside the venue was perfect.

I think it fair to say a good time was had by all, and certainly by the people I was with by the end of the night after a well-earned drink.

Now there have been three concerts I think it is worth trying to compare – the actual technical aspects of the pianos – in particular playing a Steinway then a Fazioli – I’ll have to leave to Siwan, but the playing and the sound are worth noting.

In some ways the smaller venues of the launch and Walton created an intimate feeling, and I think Siwan played differently to accommodate and emphasis this, whilst at St James’s the space created a more distant, but also smoother sense – closer to the recording in a way, and I believe that goes further than just the pianos being the same. I’m really not sure if a closer or more distant connection servers the music better – perhaps equally, but with different results, and the causes of this might reside not with the artist (although personally I think there is an element of this) but with the perception of the audience – their expectations and mind-set influenced by the size and surroundings od the concert.

It is no revelation that a venue’s spatial make up changes the sound, and form can change the mood of the listener – but how does it affect the performer? What changes in them? And what does influence an audience? We did an experiment with music and wine last year- and that might have some bearing. More of that one later too.