Arts Festival Dunedin presents Michael Houstoun
Monday, September 24, Glenroy Auditorium
New Zealand pianist Michael Houstoun lived up to his status as a national treasure this week, giving two superb and well-received performances in Dunedin for Arts Festival Dunedin.
In a full-length recital on Monday evening, Houstoun was masterful indeed, his serene facial expression belying the rapidly flying, skilful fingers.
The cleverly selected programme began with J.S. Bach’s monumental English Suite No.2, filled with the great composer’s signature complexity and contrapuntal style.
Houstoun tackled the difficult work with aplomb, bringing the work’s lovely melodies to the fore amid the thousands of notes.
Following on from this, Houstoun’s performance of Chopin’s glorious Ballade No.1 and Ballade No.2 took the audience on an emotional roller coaster.
From moments of quiet, aching beauty to intense, passages of muscular virtuosity, the pianist was in total command, leaving his audience a little breathless at the break.
The concert’s second half began with Mozart’s dramatic and often melancholy Sonata in A minor – given a sensitive treatment by Houstoun.
The wonder of Chopin then returned to round off the programme with more joy and fireworks in Ballade No.3 and Ballade No.4.
Drawn back by hearty applause, Houstoun concluded his stunning performance with a beautiful Chopin Nocturne, sending his audience into the night thoroughly satisfied.
Houstoun returned to present a St Paul’s at One performance on Tuesday, also at the Glenroy.