The Fantasia eontrappuntistiea is a tough nut for performers and listeners alike, though more approachable for both in its two-piano version, made in 1922. It is rarely attempted and, arguably, its most compelling interpretations-manic hysteria projected by the young Peter Serkin and Richard Goode (LP, Columbia MS 6891) and dreamlike radiance divined by Ursula Oppens and the late Paul Jacobs (LP, Nonesuch 79061)--were left behind in the Silver Rush.
London’s most intimate concert venue, ‘The Red Hedgehog’ was host to a recital by the distinguished pianist, Allan Schiller on Sunday March 11th. Schiller has long established himself as the doyenne of Mozartians ever since an extraordinary debut at the age of ten with Sir John Barbirolli and the Halle Orchestra in the Concerto in G, K.453. Unsurprisingly, Mozart featured on his programme in the form of the C major Sonata, K.330 which received a superb performance, effervescent and tender by turn.
Allan Schiller and the Fitzwilliam Quartet were remarkably successful in Schumann's Quintet in E flat. It is rare to hear a performance inspired by the same kind of youthful passion and lyrical tenderness Schumann felt when he wrote it. Given that sort of inspiration, its difficulties - including the blending and balancing of piano and strings - seemed to fall away.
A nice touch was Schiller's joining in with the players' opening tutti before launching into an account glowing with the sensitivity of chamber-music. Mozart described these works as appreciable by both connoisseurs and public; they seem also to communicate in a secret code with the composer himself, and Schiller was alert to all these levels. The odd note was clipped, but there was also well-balanced solo chording, and, in the finale, gentle double-taking humour.
At 4 o'clock on a scorching Sunday afternoon, a central London concert hall is one of the last places you'd want to be - indeed, I had turned down a chance of a boat trip down the Thames in favour of John Humphrey's and Allan Schiller's piano-duet and piano-duo recital in the Wigmore Hall. Though the Hall - hardly surprisingly - wasn't packed, the nonetheless sizable numbers who turned up were met with a rewardingly unusual programme.
These performances stand head and shoulders above most chamber-music accounts, which merely pass muster on CDs today: the highly-gifted and under-recorded Allan Schiller is one of this country's leading chamber-music pianists as well as being a fine virtuoso in his own right. There is an understanding and deep acquaintance with the music in both these works which are quite exceptional: the Elgar in particular receives an exemplary performance which equals the legendary Harriet Cohen/Stratton Quartet 78's.
With humorous, rippling playing and a bright clear touch he drew the gently tragic undertones from the music and thus won the sympathy and hearty applause from the audience. Schiller played the dark, mournful opening sensitively, but not sentimentally. His simple, straightforward playing of the inexpressibly moving Larghetto, free of any excess of emotion, and his pensive ensemble with the woodwind, proved him to be a Mozart interpreter of the first rank. The Variations of the final movement could not be played more lucidly than we heard here.
Out of all these concerts the most notable was that given by the English pianist Allan Schiller playing the Haydn Concerto with the Sofia Radio Orchestra. It is an easy, non-virtuoso work, and, in being so, it is difficult to project its lightness and unpretentiousness. But Schiller certainly did. He displayed beautifully the clean lines, the joyfulness and its radiance.
Last night we heard a brilliant performance of Beethoven's 'Emperor' given by Allan Schiller and the Halle Orchestra. If not the grandest conception of the work his version had the utmost sparkle and vivacity of a suave and sensuously refined order. In the Allegro the effect of his playing was rather like that of watching an exotic fish flickering upstream. Here the elaborations of the solo instrument wove deftly through an orchestral setting which was by contrast craggy and somewhat wiry in texture. His modulations and tonal colour were exciting throughout.
Allan Schiller is an inspiration and a joy to listen to. He created the wonderfully warm and exciting atmosphere at St George's, Bristol on Saturday 15th February, when he entertained a full house of BRACE supporters to a virtuoso piano recital.
Allan is a free spirit guided by his inspiration, which he gains through the music that he chooses for each individual programme. He is also a very loveable performer, charming and engaging his audience with his delightful smile and introducing each piece personally.