Duelling sounds kick off long night in empty hall

SIMON SWEETMAN
Last updated 08:01 24/06/2013

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REVIEW: Richard Clayderman

Michael Fowler Centre, Friday, June 21

French pianist Richard Clayderman sold millions of records by combining easy listening pop melodies and trace-around classical playing. In fact, he has sold so many albums he has been deemed the world's most successful pianist by the never-discerning Guinness World Records.

It's a very small audience to greet Clayderman - embarrassing, in fact. The Michael Fowler Centre hall is almost echoing with the emptiness, just the handful of front rows full, two-thirds of the auditorium offering a silence that should speak louder than any other form of criticism. This concert could have been held in the foyer.

Clayderman wastes no time, delivering signature hit Ballade pour Adeline and introducing his pick-up local string trio. The piano and strings fight for space around the clatter of pre-recorded horns, synthesisers, tinny keyboard drums and other church-service arrangements that evoke plastic flowers, smoke-tainted doilies and soft-porn record covers.

Clayderman isn't even the main act to begin with - the first few numbers so strongly feature the backing tapes. It's the waiting room before one enters musical purgatory.

The sound mix is sorted for the highlight of the evening, the Adagio from Khachaturian's Spartacus ballet, perhaps best remembered in New Zealand as the theme to the television series, The Onedin Line. Clayderman pushes the piece to its proud swell of conclusion. He is a thoroughly competent pianist.

When he performs You Raise Me Up he plays the intro completely out of time with the metronomic count-in from the behind-the-curtain backing track. He finds his way into the song eventually and heads sway slowly, softly. I've had some long nights among pitifully small audiences. And this was certainly one.

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- The Dominion Post

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