Pianist Fiona Addie chose two very dissimilar fruits of the late Romantic era for her appearance last night with the Bulawayo Municipal Orchestra under Hugh Fenn.
Cesar Franck’s Symphonic Variations is practically owned by the ladies. Surpirsingly, Miss Addie’s performance was less satisfying than her account of Liszt’s Hungarian Fantasia usually the province of muscled male virtuosi. She dug quite perceptively – even poetically into the reflective anecdotal quality that dominates most of the Franck, but by holding back in the final pages she missed something of the bounce and vitality.
I wondered at the time whether a sense of marginal technical security was the reason for her reticence. It was an unfair thought, though, as she proved with a robust and outgoing reading of the Liszt, unconcerned by most of its demands on her technique.
The orchestra reversed the honours by accompanying much more effectively in the Franck than in the Liszt, which had an unfair rate of casualties in wind and brass.
The players seemed to wind down as the evening progressed. Bellini’s overture to Norma had a dynamic, disciplined performance, and later on the account of Debussy’s Petite Suite was well integrated and engaging. Perhaps discouraged by the Liszt, the orchestra was dispirited in Glinka’s Kamarinskaya.