Concert Reviews

Performing Poulenc's Double Concerto with Wendy Hiscocks & the Gunma Symphony Orchestra conducted by Kimbo Ishii-Eto, opening concert of the 2002 Kusatsu Festival and Summer Academy (photo: Hiroshi Isaka)

The absolute high point of this year’s chamber music series was the concert by British pianist Roy Howat. – Klosterser Zeitung, 16 September 1994.

Not only has Roy Howat made a speciality of French music, he performs it with sovereign skill, attaining a perfection that demands a rare finesse of touch, a technique that allies ‘pearled tone’ with a very wide palette of colours, a very special use of the pedals, and above all a profound awareness of the composers’ intentions. Rare are those who approach French music of the early 20th century with such happy results. So, a piece of advice: seek out Roy Howat’s recordings, they will prolong the dream evening this pianist gave us. – L’Express, Neuchâtel, 2 December 1994.

The rhythm which dances through all of Roy Howat’s playing was as evident in Robin Orr’s atmospheric pieces as in the other works by Chabrier, Debussy and Schubert. He drew the audience into the music, varying the tone and texture to draw out all the colours of the French pieces and those by Robin Orr. However, it was the wonderful drama of the Schubert C minor Sonata and its magical finale that really crowned an enthralling recital. – Aberdeen Press & Journal, December 1994.

And what a wonderful interpreter of Debussy Howat is. The first series of Images was beautifully textured, Howat’s perfectly controlled technique, his intelligence and passion for the music making this a performance of rare quality – The Christchurch Post (New Zealand), 30 May 1995.

Roy Howat possesses the qualities that transform a simple recital into a special event. His playing, a lesson in interpretation and a model of poetry, is of those who can captivate without demagogy, who can illuminate without pedantry. …A dream programme, sumptuously performed. –  La Tribune de Genève, March 1989.

Roy Howat’s field of expertise is French music, and he tilled it impressively in this recital… He is an economical pianist in his keyboard manner, but his musicianship is generous. – Fred Blanks, The Sydney Morning Herald, 1987.

This wiry, soft-spoken Scot is one of the treasures of the musical world, a pianistic athlete of superlative skill, with a crisp, enquiring mind … his Debussy was a revelation. Convention has tended to relegate Debussy to a sort of Lotus Land for the Lyrically Limp-Wristed. Howat brings the Frenchman home, interpreting his sensuality not only in the light of his intellectual daring, but also in the light of his immense admiration for Chabrier, whose much-loved ‘Idylle’ made a perfect start for a string of encores. Howat had already beamed Chabrier’s bright Southern sunshine into the Arch-Impressionist’s Estampes and Preludes, Book 1, restoring to them a warmth, a dancing energy, a sardonic edge and simplicity fogged in more conventional readings. It’s a major revision of the Debussy ‘way’: I was utterly convinced by it. – Charles Southwood of ABC Classic FM, in Échanges (Alliance Française, Australia), June 1997.

His playing was always intelligent… the tone he drew from the piano being full, fresh and with many subtle shadings… I look forward to hearing Dr Howat again – The Times, following Roy Howat’s London Wigmore Hall debut in 1980.