Fabulous Freddy Returns!

Lindsay Perigo's picture
Submitted by Lindsay Perigo on Mon, 2012-05-21 10:59

Undeterred by the traumatic experience of delinquent SOLOist Sam Pierson trying to pimp his sister, the infamous delinquent SOLOist Olivia Lady Slapper, to him ...


... fabulous Freddy Kempf, one of the greats among contemporary pianists, is returning to NZ in December.

He's not even deterred by an elderly, overweight groupie with whom he's had the gracious forbearance to stay in touch:

Stay tuned for details!

Can only say I wanted more.

Sam Pierson's picture

Can only say I wanted more. It's made me want to listen to more Gershwin, with its fresh vitality & vibrance. Freddy was masterful, making every note count & express. He needs return soon - I told him so.

Who could ask for anything more?

Olivia's picture

What a night! The optimism in the music, the audience and the whole event was infectious. Rhapsody in Blue truly was icing on the cake. Freddy always gives his whole heart and soul to his performance – and so did the dynamic conductor, Maestro Coorey. His conducting was a joy to watch especially during the Bernstein piece where he really went to town with the trombones. The NZSO absolutely loved what they were playing, you could tell from their intense focus in which they still managed to appear somewhat relaxed. Perhaps that is partly because of Freddy's marked easy-going-ness. Sometimes it was a little hard to hear Freddy above the orchestra, no matter how forcefully he struck the piano keys (I adore it when he head-bangs). But with all those trumpets, trombones, cymbals and drums I suppose that is to be expected.

Despite us trying our best, we couldn’t induce an encore either – and the pressure was on! But after such a magnificent Rhapsody in Blue we happily accepted that it was the end of a very happy night.

Oh yes – and when Freddy did his solo passages there was an incredible silence around him which was poignant. It made me feel that we were indeed in the presence of true greatness. We happy few!

Fabulous as ever!

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Freddy's performance at the Michael Fowler Centre last night was stellar, as always. He began the programme with Gershwin's Second Rhapsody, written some years after the much-better-known Rhapsody in Blue with which he closed. The latter, of course, is the quintessential evocation of the delectable decadence and heady optimism of the '20s; the former was evidently intended as a tribute to New York City's construction workers as the Great Depression set in in the 30s -- an acknowledgment of their tribulations, suffused with intimations of triumph. Certainly it hammers and hurts, jars and jolts ... and soothes and soars, as Gershwin repairs to more familiar romantic lyricism in the middle. Freddy and the NZSO captured all this to highly focussed effect.

I'm not entirely convinced their second contribution, variations on I Got Rhythm had quite the same focus. I had the sense a couple of times the thing just wasn't quite in sync, but that could just have been me being dizzy, which has been known. Either way, it was still a hoot.

The orchestra offered American in Paris creditably, and there were a couple of other Freddy-less vignettes by Bernstein and Shostakovich that were interesting and fleetingly spectacular, but the climax and highlight of course was Rhaspody in Blue at the close. An alternative title for the Second Rhapsody had been Rhapsody in Rivets, for reasons that will now be apparent -- but it was Blue that had everyone "rivetted," utterly: the rapt silence during Freddy's solo passages was palpable. Not a cough or shuffle, and had a pin been dropped, one would have heard it. The Maestro was strutting his stuff on territory with which we were all familiar, and it was mesmerising. The surging finish was as precise as it was thrilling, a fitting testament to the collaboration between Freddy and conductor-friend Matthew Coorey. The crowd erupted.

(Speaking of the crowd, it was smaller than it should have been. I blame too little promotion too late, and pale posters that, far from grabbing one's attention, refused to do so with resolute reticence. Memo to the publicity folk: the best tool for publicising Freddy is ... Freddy! This is the Age of Cute. Freddy is cute. Use his face!)

Erupt though we might, we couldn't induce an encore. Aucklanders attending tonight, you'll have to work very hard at that! But encore or no, I'm sure you'll be shouting "Bravo Freddy!" with a fervour similar to mine.

Kai Schumacher

Richard Goode's picture


Lindsay Perigo's picture

Will You Remember is by Victor Herbert. Eye Mario never sang Gershwin, a source of puzzlement to his fans. He did many of the standards from the American Songbook, but none by Gershwin, by George.

Ooops! I forgot about Ira!

Rosie's picture

So this George Gershwin title is apt! (Will You Remember)

I love this song. And I won't mention Slayer OR Nelson Eddy's version!

Ha, Rosie!

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Long ago and far away is a Jerome Kern melody. The Gershwin involved is George's brother, Ira, who wrote the lyrics. It's great music: doesn't have to be a symphony, opera or concerto to be great. Of course Mario, as the greatest cross-over artist ever, was not "snobbish," and neither is Freddy, though I can tell you he sets his own performance bar at the highest possible level. One might call it the total passion for the total height.

One shouldn't mention sub-filth like Slayer in exalted discussions such as this.


Rosie's picture

Perhaps an Objectivist pianist in the making?

A similar thought occurred to me also.


Rosie's picture

Linz is not the only thing Mario and Freddy have in common!

What is interesting to me, Linz, is that neither of your two heroes is classically "snobbish" in what he plays or sings. Probably neither would attempt Slayer though!

Perhaps an Objectivist pianist in the making?

gregster's picture

Well done Rosie and Linz, and Freddy.

Lady S

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Knowing your lover's admirable penchant for value-swoon as I do, I'd advise you to take several boxes of tissues.

And yes, what a highlight the dinner was for me. As I said to Rosie, who helped me select a venue, it was akin to dining with Mario. I can't pay a higher compliment than that.


Olivia's picture

Lucky, lucky Linz! What a highlight for you. Smiling

I'm taking my lover on Saturday for his birthday treat - choosing seats is always a major; do I want to see his face as he plays, or his hands?? I chose face. Can't wait too.

He's finally here ...

Lindsay Perigo's picture

... to do an all-Gershwin concert, and we had dinner last night, after two years of e-mailing. Three and a half hours of utter enchantment. I have never felt so privileged, and seldom so elated.

I can't wait for the concert this Friday night, December 7. (Auckland Saturday.)


Ross Elliot's picture

...I don't know what the hell you're doing at that bach, but you have to get out of there.


Mark Hubbard's picture

Careful. I'm in the last day at the Bach, as it happens, and all we've got here is Katherine Jenkins and Charlotte Church Eye


Olivia's picture

Yes! He does indeed - but I don't think he listens to Bach, unlike our Mr. Hubbard.


Ross Elliot's picture

...Sam doesn't look like a pimp. He looks like an accountant.

I'm not sure which one is worse.


Miss PoliteSweet?

Sam Pierson's picture

I think you had other things on your mind, solipsist. Sticking out tongue

Polite and sweet?

Lindsay Perigo's picture

Sis came over all polite & sweet

What time was that? Why wasn't I informed?


Sam Pierson's picture

Monsieur Kempf's Rach 3 brought out the best in me. It also put Linz on his best behaviour & Sis came over all polite & sweet. The only downside of the evening was people became humorous, which I disapproved of.

Shouldn't this news stay on the QT? We don't want the other riffraff out there driving up ticket sales & prices now, in a fit of rational exuberance.


Olivia's picture

You and I both look like blushing school girls. Glad we haven't put Freddy off returning to NZ - perhaps this time he'll succumb to our overtures and at least come drinking with us.

Remember when the cellist collapsed in high drama during the Rach? Even Freddy stopped playing as they had to whisk her off the stage. Such was the power of his performance!

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