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Pianism in the grand manner

In his first solo recitals in Adelaide in over ten years, legendary Australian pianist Roger Woodward performed two much-applauded solo concerts on Elder Hall's Bösendorfer grand.

Roger Woodward has been called "Australia's leading classical pianist" by the Alliance Francaise Sydney. Arthur Rubinstein and Yehudi Menuhin acclaimed his work, and Sviatoslav Richter invited him to appear at many European festivals.

In his first concert on May 28th Woodward performed the entire "Well-tempered Clavier, Book 1" by J.S. Bach. In his second recital, two days later the great pianist gave his take on 21st century Shostakovich's "24 Preludes and Fugues", written in tribute to Bach's master-works.

"Winston Music" Piano technician Geoff Smith looked after tuning and provided a perfect Bösendorfer concert grand model 280.

Elder Hall is one of Australia's finest concert halls. It's located in the heart of Adelaide in the grounds of the University of Adelaide

Elder Hall is one of Australia's finest concert halls. It's located in the heart of Adelaide in the grounds of the University of Adelaide

The Bosendorfer seemed to fire him up

Each concert showcased Woodward's renowned virtuosity and endurance, making the event unforgettable for the Adelaide audiences.

Critics Graham Strahle from THE AUSTRALIAN was excited, too:

".... His interpretations are intellectually strong yet superbly balanced. Rhythmic energy is there in abundance, as may be expected, but so too are poise, control and melodic beauty.

In his Adelaide performance, Woodward's care over voicing stood out above all. He gave a natural, breathing quality to melodic material, bringing themes out from the surrounding texture and making total sense of the music.
The fugues were rapid and utterly clear, kept at an unrelenting tempo to give them tautness and strength.

There was terrific power in the passacaglia-based Prelude No.12 and pure ferocity in its matching Fugue. Woodward served up some pounding force, too, in Prelude and Fugue No. 15.

But he was able to unearth the full gamut of emotion in these pieces: joyousness in the radiant Fugue No.7 and even moments of romantic warmth, in Prelude No.23.

Woodward was in top form and magnificent throughout, showing complete mastery of Shostakovich's multifaceted contrapuntal art.

It seemed he just couldn't keep his hands off the Elder Hall's Bösendorfer grand. Its clear middle register and strong, resonant bass seemed to perpetually fire him up.

Once the cycle was done, and after many in the audience had visibly had their fill of Shostakovich, he was smartly back for three encores: an even more resolutely powerful performance of Prelude and Fugue No.12, and two rapturous Debussy preludes for good measure."

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Open day 2008 at Elder Hall

Open day 2008 at Elder Hall

(Photos: University of Adelaide; Adelaide fringe; Roger Woodward)