Girl with startling talent

Jennifer Huntly is a young Rhodesian pianist studying overseas. Her recital last evening, was not entirely successful. Nonetheless, I believe that she has a startling talent, and there need be no limit to what she can achieve.

Miss Huntley was clearly discomfited after a memory lapse in the finale of Mozart’s C Major Sonata, K330. This, of course, is every pianist’s nightmare, but I have heard it happen to the greatest, and Miss Huntly should not permit it to unsettle her.

The first two movements were model Mozart playing – crisply articulated, stylishly phrased, and alert throughout to Mozart’s permanent undercurrent of pain. She might arguably made more of the dramatic modulations in the first movement development, but the slow movement was masterly.

Beethoven’s A Flat Sonata, Op. 110, is purged of pianistic effect. I found Huntley’s account of the first movement elegant and too urbane, and much of the argument in the left hand was neglected. The Sherzo has to go fast, but she compounded its difficulties by rushing it headlong. She showed remarkable acuity in the profoundly sad arioso sections in the finale. The fugue, however, needed more control for her fully to realize its triumphant sanity.

The lyrical episodes in the two Chopin Ballades were splendid, but the dramatic passages degenerated into an ugly battle with the notes. And yet Miss Huntly was fully in command of the formidably difficult “Andaluza” by Falla. Did she perhaps dismiss the Chopin pieces as less obviously taxing and needing less effort?

The other Spanish pieces were played with rhythmic subtlety and with spirit. There is no doubt that Miss Huntly can exercise discipline and rigid control, but she does not yet do this consistently

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