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Review: Gwilym Simcock



Gwilym Simcock Solo Piano
(Kings Place Hall One, part of “Samuel Joseph presents”)

Gwilym Simcock has just made a solo piano recording for the German ACTMusic label. It will be released in January, probably in their Piano Works series. The recording was made at the “Schloss Elmau Cultural Hideaway & Luxury Spa” (above) in Upper Bavaria.

This recording venue turned out to be rather less hidden away than would be ideal: the pianist and the engineers were obliged to fit their work around interruptions from extraneous tractors and lorries.

There were no such distractions in the near-ideal acoustics of Kings Place Hall One last night, where the material written for the recording was receiving its very first public performance in front of a very appreciative audience.

What came across most vividly on a first hearing was the breadth of the palette of styles, of textures and voices which Simcock conjures up: Mezzotint was exotically perfumed with Ravel. Gripper was far more jazz-inflected, with a jaunty bass figure rocking back and forth, Wake-Up Call seem to disappear off into free improvisation, but later built in one of those full textures where the ear tells you that Simcock definitely has many more than ten fingers. Can We Still Be Friends was deliciously elegaic and reflective. The standard My One and Only Love was a high point and received cheers. “On Broadway,” played as a birthday gift to Professor Max Steuer, who was in the audience, was a miracle of completely letting it rip, while also staying in total control.

Gwilym Simcock keeps developing, moving forward. I’m looking forward to hearing this music again when the album comes out.

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