12 October 2022
As I’m sure is evident if you’ve followed my writing for any length of time classical music (in its broad sense) is not really something I have a lot of experience of – in fact I’m not sure I’ve ever attended a dedicated classical music event before, but that changed tonight as I headed to St James in Guernsey for the first in the 2022/23 Fanny Davies International Piano Series, in this case featuring Italian pianist Ida Pelliccioli.
I also have to admit to having wondered about the name of the series of events (which has been ongoing for several years) but this was explained at the start as Fanny Davies was a concert pianist born in Guernsey in the 1800s and who, appropriately for tonight’s event, was an early performer of the works of Debussy.
I say that as this concert was subtitled Debussy and Influences and saw Pelliccioli take us on something of a journey through some of the works that influenced Debussy and some of his own works, as well as a couple of others bits.
The first half began with Suite in A Minor from the ‘Nouvelles Suites pour clavecin’ by Jean-Phillipe Rameau, and I’ll admit to being both entirely unfamiliar with the composer and somewhat in a state of culture shock about how one should respond and even listen to the performance, something I’m not really used to in this context.
That said, and this goes for the entire evening, Pelliccioli’s playing was hugely impressive.
These six shorter pieces all seemed intent on playing as many notes as quickly as possible in a somewhat baroque style that, I believe, was originally intended for the harpsichord and I could hear a bit of that in them and, by the end, I was starting to feel I was maybe starting to get my head around things a little and was beginning to find more of a feeling in the music beyond the technical.
The first half then concluded with Claude Debussy’s Homage à Rameau (Images – Book 1 L.110) which instantly felt more familiar in style.
While it, apparently, was written based on the ideas heard in the earlier pieces I’m in no position to say I really spotted the references but nonetheless it sounded terrific and had some moments that were genuinely absorbing and transporting, while also giving us moments that saw the performance really come alive in a way I could more directly interpret.