Elsie Hall, a remarkable South African pianist, was soloist at the Bulawayo Music Club’s monthly meeting last night.
Her forthright playing, allied to exceptional technical equipment and a strong sense of musical structure, makes her readings of the classics refreshing and authoritative.
The first movement of Bach’s Italian Concerto found unaccustomed unity in her minimizing of the contrast usually pointed between the “orchestral” and “solo” sections, and even the boisterous syncopated passage in the development of the first movement of the Beethoven Sonata Opus 10, No. 2, was not allowed to disturb the structural cogency of her account.
But her disinclination to linger and to savor an individual phrase makes her performance of romantic music a trifle perfunctory, lacking the quality Beethoven untranslateably called “innigkeit”. Her Chopin Ballade seemed energetic rather than impassioned.
Faure’s cool detachment and Scriabin’s shifting harmonies benefited from her intellect and discipline, and she rewarded a justifiably enthusiastic audience with a splendidly vigorous account of Brahms’ B Minor Rhapsody, as encore.