Imogen Cooper at Keswick Music Society

This recital was fantastic because Imogen Cooper played with outstanding virtuosity a range of repertoire showing deep understanding and sympathy. Imogen Cooper did not hold back, she took the risks and showed us her full vision of this complex music. We were treated to magnificent performances of all four of Schubert’s Impromptus D899, the graceful No.1, the thrilling No. 2, the journey of No. 3 and then No. 4 charged with so much emotion, so much creativity in the modulation of the tempi (ie rubato) and throwing all the experience and technique of a great musician in to the performance.

As the thrill of Beethoven’s Op. 110 fugue receded and the applause subsided, we realised we had been privileged to an extraordinary musical experience. The journey we had been given encountered a full range of chamber music: thrilling, triumphant through suave and melodious to desperately sad and tragic. Music can be a healing and this was musical therapy in the hands of a master. Every style of playing from elegant and delicate to the heaviest treatment that Keswick Music Society’s Steinway Model B grand piano has received for many years.
I continually marvel at the contradiction that this can happen in a small venue at least as often as in a major concert hall. Keswick is a lovely town in the most beautiful of England’s national parks and something inspires musicians when they perform here. Tonight’s was a full house with overflow seating.
Imogen Cooper returned after this challenging programme and much enthusiastic applause from this musically-informed audience; she described the finale of the Beethoven as “triumphant”, she announced that she felt there is not much to be triumphant about in the world today. So as an encore Imogen Cooper played one of Béla Bartók’s Four Dirges as she feels this as a more appropriate way to end. I’m so sad that she feels the world is this bleak: her music gave us hope that we can make sense of our world.

Dame Imogen Cooper, piano

Schubert: Allegretto in C minor Schubert: Four Impromptus D899
Bach: Chorale Nun freut euch, lieben Christen g’mein (arr. Wilhelm Kempff)
Bach: Chorale Nun kimm der heiden Heiland (arr. Federico Busoni)
Ades: Darknesse Visible
Beethoven: Sonata in A flat major Op. 110

Keswick Music Society at St John’s Church, Keswick