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Paul Lewis, St George’s; Asif Sirkis, Future Inns

May 13, 2011

Oops behind again. So quick notes on Paul Lewis, back at St George’s 6 May

One of the pleasures of following a series where a great performer explores a single composer’s work is being introduced to new pieces. Hearing Schubert’s Sonata D894 for the first time was like seeing a Shakespeare play you’ve never seen performed before (an experience we’ve also had this year). It is full of quotes, things you know but couldn’t quite place, but seeing the whole thing unfold gives you a new appreciation of a genius at work, and a slightly puzzled feeling about having overlooked this particular example ’til now.

I came home to search for suitable downloads to get to know it more thoroughly, but not before appreciating this brilliant live rendition, benefitting as usual from St George’s acoustic friendliness toward solo piano. Lewis is a must-see player, and this Schubert series is going to stay in the mind for a long time. I even have tickets for the next one which involves some singing – by Mark Padmore. I’m allergic to most voices used in that style, my failing Im sure, but if anything can overcome that unfortunate condition it will be the combination of Lewis and St G’s.

Asaf Sirkis trio gig at Future Inns a couple of days later was a committed couple of sets by three excellent musicians – Sirkis on drums,  Tassos Stiliopolous on guitar and Rod Teague on bass guitar. I had to work a bit to focus on their virtues at first because of a spoilt jazz-listener’s post-Cheltenham mood – if it wasn’t as good as what we heard there a week before, why be interested? Specifically, this was drum heavy (well he is the leader) and I really wanted to be listening to Eric Harland.

Unfair, obviously, as in any normal week one would be grateful to hear anyone as good as Sirkis – who has a nice touch when he wants to, and could doubtless make a handsome living on sessions but takes his own music on the road instead. Some interesting compositions, though they lean toward a jazz-rock sound which comes across as a little dated, and fine guitar – especially in the second set. Glad they slipped this one in before the club’s untimely demise in a few weeks…

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