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•   "...an unalloyed pleasure." The New York Times

•   "...some of the most educated, agile and subtle fingers in the business. If ever a recital warranted a capacity      audience, it was this." The West Australian

•   "...keen intelligence, finely poised restraint, and beautiful tone." Buckinghamshire Examiner

•   "At a time when pianists are extremely thick on the ground, Graham FItch gave me satisfaction which comes       all too infrequently." Berkshire Countryside

•   "His sensitive playing of the concerto [Mozart K491] immediately impressed me. Phrases had wonderful shape,      and deep musicality: a pianist of integrity and profundity." Die Burger

•   "Fitch's style is marked by a breezy, laid-back presentation, impeccable keyboard technique, a deep      knowledge of the musicological facts and a truly phenomenal musical memory." Toowoomba Chronicle

•   "This was playing of stature and great sensitivity." Dame Fanny Waterman


Recital - Graham FItch, piano, Octagon Theatre
The West Australian, Monday July 5 1999
Review by Neville Cohn

To negotiate Bach’s monumental Goldberg Variations, one of music’s most hazardous obstacle courses, and emerge with honour reasonably intact is no small achievement. To come through the ordeal without compromising the sanctity of the printed note - and banners triumphantly flying - is rarer still.

Like some musical Caesar, Cape Town-based Graham Fitch came to Perth, played and conquered.

With the worldwide swing towards authentic performance practice, opportunities of hearing Bach’s masterpiece on the piano (as opposed to the harpsichord, for which it was intended) are few - especially by a pianist who is clearly a master of the instrument.

There is nothing in the least showy about Fitch’s stage manner; it borders on the austere. And in performance, there is not a hint of pretentiousness, of playing to the gallery. On the contrary, Fitch addressed the work with the utmost seriousness of purpose. No fudging here, no resorting to the damper pedal to cover technical weaknesses; there were none, anyway.

As a feat of memory, this was a remarkable effort with, at one point, only the briefest weakening of concentration over a timespan of well over an hour, Fitch’s playing, moreover, sounded as fresh and authoritative at the end of this marathon as in the earliest of the 30 variations. It left one wondering anew at the incomparable richness of the music, fashioned from the most modest of bases; a little sarabande Bach tossed off years earlier for the delectation of his second wife, and a prosaic, borrowed folk tune about cabbages.

Throughout, Fitch, employing some of the most educated, agile and subtle fingers in the business, gave us an account that brimmed with felicities.

Invariably, Fitch’s choice of tempi sounded entirely right, taking the first of the variations, for instance, at a good, sturdy pace, as appropriate as that set for variation five (an excruciatingly difficult essay involving crossing hands) with its buoyancy of momentum and springy rhythms.

And in variation 12, digital wizardry was brought to bear on contrapuntal lines that, in Fitch’s hands, coalesced and separated in a way that appeared simplicity itself.

It isn’t, of course; it’s villainously difficult. But at no time was one conscious of even the slightest strain on the part of the pianist.

Perhaps it is only those who have endeavoured to breathe life into these unforgivingly difficult measures who can fully appreciate Fitch’s achievement.

In variation 13 for instance, he did wonders in essaying note patterns that were, in their way, as intricate and beautiful as finest Brussels lace. The fluttering trills in variation 28, too, were presented with as much authority as a simulation of bold drumbeats in the episode that followed.

Elsewhere, Fitch was entirely persuasive in moments during which he produced sound patterns of such delicate, fragile quality that they reached the ears as if filtered through layers of fine gauze.

What a shame there were such big islands of empty seats at the Octagon. If ever a recital warranted a capacity audience, it was this.