Saturday, August 8, 2009

A Concert to Rememer

11.30pm, and just returned home from the metropolis. Darling daughter organized tickets and took us in her jazzy Mazda MX6 to the beautifully restored Adelaide Town Hall concert hall to see, hear and appreciate a David Helfgott concert.

I am happy to say that I have not seen 'Shine' with Jeffrey Rush but now, after seeing the real thing, may yet do so. I always also like to read the book and make my own impressions before seeing someone elses.

The programme consisted of Rachmaninov Predudes, Mozart's Sonata No.8 in A minor and
Beethoven's Waldstein sonata.

Unlike the young pianists of today who have had all the advantages of modern technique and Masterclass refinement in phrasing, Helfgott's music is, one might say, rather more basic but
his total personal identification with it is unique.

He rushed upon the stage as though there were not enough time in life for playing his chosen instrument, and literally ran across the stage with bows and thumbs up signs to sit at the piano...
no niceties of adjusting piano stool or flipping his coat-tails back, lifting his hands portentously and composing his face to the piece to come, let alone flicking back that artistic lock of hair etc., no, having reached the piano he launched straight into the piece before he was even properly seated. There was a tremendous urgency to be at one with the music and the piano.The tempo may have run away with his fingers as he kept looking at the audience to see that they too enjoyed it. Van Cliburn's gentle hums were as nothing to the sonorous tones emanating from Helfgott, yet all was accepted through the deep infectious enjoyment of music that spread like a mist over the audience and carried all before it to a higher plane of identifying with sound itself.

The interruption of the illiterate applauding in the middle of a movement did not phase him at all. he half rose, bowed, but all the while did not miss a beat in his playing. Quite remarkable in anyone else perhaps, but Helfgott seems to actually be the music.

It was an evening of pure enjoyment, with an audience akin to the adoring fans of Liberace but without the glitz and props. Three encores to standing ovations, Chopin's Minute Waltz played in 30 seconds...his fingers moved with unbelievable dexterity and speed. Next came Manuel de Falla's 'Ritual Fire Dance' setting the very sky ablaze and after yet another standing ovation, we thrilled to the Bumble Bee flying past us at super sonic speed.

All in all, a memorable evening's entertainment!


  1. Arija you always say the right things to me.

    Sheldon is all of that and more.

    Love Renee xoxo

  2. What a special treat and how your words are music..all I could come up with is that I went to a concert. You paint the entire experience with your prose...Michelle

  3. Arija, how wonderful that your daughter made these arrangements. Sounds like music to my ears.

  4. A beautifully written review Arija. You've made me want to check this guy out again. I saw 'Shine' and loved it, but that was many years ago.

  5. What a special night! Manuel de Falla's Ritual Fire Dance is a favorite of mine. The ballet he compposed it for El Amor Brujo is just so intense and beautiful.
    And did you ever see the movie Shine about Helfgott's life?


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