Review: Jean-Paul Gasparian at the Elgar Room, Royal Albert Hall

We overlook the connection between audience, venue, and performer. If the audience is in the right frame of mind, the connection will (potentially) be established quicker. Put simply: a relaxed crowd is a comfortable crowd. One thing feeds off another.

I tend to overlook mid-morning concerts. By doing so I forget that such events being scheduled at more conducive times of day makes them better attended.

Jean-Paul Gasparian’s Royal Albert Hall Classical Coffee Morning was so well-attended in fact that I struggled to get a ticket at the box office. Had it not have been for a return, I wouldn’t have got in at all. Once the performance got going so the audience kept coming – standing room only at the back of the Elgar Room. 

The all-important connection between audience and performance was evident soon after the beginning of Gasparian’s programme. The three movements of Debussy’s charming Estampes are a tough opener in a dry acoustic, but the second of the three – La soirée dans Grenade – was where evidence of that connection between audience and performer was evident. Heads were still; attention focussed.

The Mozart was taut throughout with dramatic dynamic shifts and deftly-executed ornamentation. There was clarity and intensity throughout. The third movement of what is a deliciously compact work was especially exhilarating.  

Gasparian clearly felt most at ease during the Chopin works. The Polonaise-Fantasie op.61 is a demanding piece but this was where he thrived. For me, there’s more depth to the work that demands greater expression. Jean-Paul didn’t shy away from the challenge. Come the Ballades in the final minutes of the recital he displayed ease and relish.

Gasparian is a modest presence on stage, focussed on the job at hand, and when its complete, happy to mix with audience members, pose for pictures and sign CDs. There is a gentility to his presence which makes for a relaxed vibe, perfectly matched for the mood of the occasion. 

Jean-Paul Gasparian appears at the Royal College of Music in the Amaryllis Fleming Concert Hall on Sunday 10 June at 3.45pm in a programme including Chopin, Debussy and Mozart. 




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