Joanna MacGregor ‘a brilliant light in the piano world’

Eagerly awaited at this year’s Cambridge Summer Music Festival was Joanna MacGregor’s recital on Saturday (July 14) at West Road Concert Hall

John Gilroy, Cambridge Independent, 16 July

‘The renowned pianist arrived on the platform and immediately powered expertly into Beethoven’s 32 Variations. This short work is so demanding that for many performers, one imagines, it would better serve as an encore than an introduction, and especially for the kind of taxing programme with which Joanna was to follow it.

‘Joanna went on to play two sets of [Chopin Mazurkas], seven chosen from almost 60, each of pure gold, one better than the other.’

‘Appropriately following some of the most elusive dances ever written, were three by the Argentinian composer Ginastera. The central piece, somewhat reminiscent of the quieter movements in Albeniz’ Iberia suite, was framed by two wilder ones reflecting Ginastera’s enthusiasm for the life of the Argentine Gaucho. The last of them tested the piano almost to destruction.’

‘An evocative short composition Black Earth by the Turkish classical pianist and jazz improviser, Fazil Say, was next. Here the piano was made at intervals to imitate the sound of the ‘oud’ or short-stemmed Turkish lute, with Joanna reaching in to use her hands to damp the strings and produce the haunting tone of that instrument.

‘By this time the audience had become truly enthralled, and still the Appassionata, one of the greatest of Beethoven’s piano sonatas, was to come.

‘Joanna’s presentation of this deeply romantic and lengthy composition was enormously charged and intense, her movements and expressions revealing the extent to which she was completely inhabiting the music, finding all the subtleties and nuances amidst the turbo-charged energy it demanded.’

‘Joanna MacGregor is a brilliant light in the piano world. Her appearance in Cambridge on Saturday will live in the memory of anyone fortunate enough to have been there.’

Full Review


Joanna MacGregor