Catherine Leonard at the Wigmore Hall
How do you fill up the prestigious Wigmore Hall if you are not a household name? Employ an effective PR agency.
I queued for my pre-booked tickets at 7 pm while my friends waited in the lobby. Before long, the entire hall was filled to the brim.
Who is this young violinist from Northern Ireland? Within minutes into the first piece, Catherine Leonard had broken a string. Her apologetic expression communicated to the packed audience of both honest helplessness and intimacy. When she returned some minutes later, she and the pianist Charles Owen were greeted with overwhelming enthusiasm.
Such is the charm and grace of a beautiful woman --- to placate the audience with her smile and a toss of her hair.
The pieces chosen were not familiar to me. Following Lutoslawski came Prokofiev's Sonata No. 2, op. 94a. The programme notes by Francis Humphrys were well-written and well-researched.
Leonard's engaging performance reminded me of Mengerov's concert at the Royal Festival Hall a few years ago. Both held the instrument with full control, and both exhuded raw sexuality. Mengerov was testosterone-driven, while Leonard showed her wild feminine side. One couldn't listen to her play without following the swings of her long, curly brown hair, bare shoulders and long arms, and slim torso.
How could a single instrument -- the violin --- bring out the personality of the performer? With Mengerov, it was vibrant masculinity. With Leonard, it was beauty and sensuality.
Thanks, Gordon, for letting me know about this concert. It dawned on me finally that people don't go to a concert just to listen to the music. They go to experience it.
17 December 2003 Wednesday
Lutoslawski's Partita for Violin and Piano (5 movements)
Prokofiev's Sonata for violin and piano in D major (4 movements)
Interval (20 minutes)
Beethoven's Violin Sonata no. 6 in A major (3 movements)
Ravel's Sonata for violin and piano in G major (3 movements)