Friday, 3 June 2011

Lunchtime concert at St. Pancras Parish Church

St. Pancras Parish Church hosts regular lunchtime concerts every Thursday. These are about an hour long and tend towards two or three performers playing classical chamber music, often of the difficult twentieth-century kind. Classical music is not at all what I normally listen to, but the atmosphere of the church and the evident dedication of the musicians adds up to a kind of magic.

The church is an impressive neoclassical building featuring a row of caryatids facing the Euston Road. The steps and entrance portico are used by a flower seller and rough sleepers, though not simultaneously. After the nearby Tavistock Square bus bombing in 2005, bunches of flowers were piled high on these steps.

Last week pianist Maria Razumovskaya performed Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition. This was the original piano version, not the version orchestrated by Ravel. A grand piano on casters had been wheeled out in front of the altar for the occasion. Inside, the pews were maybe a quarter full, with space to spread out. Ms Razumovskaya is a recent graduate from the Royal Academy of Music in London, and she is evidently an accomplished performer. In contrast to her publicity photographs, she played with great seriousness, eyes half closed, not the slightest hint of a smile at any point. The drama built up along with the volume. She pounded that piano, making more noise than seemed possible. Pictures at an Exhibition has been criticised for clumsiness, even for ugliness, but she made it work. What could have been an uncomfortable half-hour on a hard wooden pew passed all too soon.

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