“From the opening Elégie Op. 3 to the closing Moment Musical No.6 Parham and Goodman between them paint a loving, 100 -minute portrait of the ever-melancholic Rachmaninoff”
***** 5 stars
One of Britain’s finest pianists, Lucy Parham applies her sensitivity and imagination not only to concertos and recitals, but also to portraits in words and music of such composers as Schumann, Rachmaninoff, Chopin, Liszt and Debussy. Lucy Parham has performed throughout the UK and Europe, South Africa, USA, Canada and Russia. As a concerto soloist with leading orchestras, she has appeared in the UK with the London Philharmonic, Philharmonia, Royal Philharmonic, BBC Philharmonic, RTE Orchestra, Ulster Orchestra, BBC Concert Orchestra, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, London Mozart Players, City of London Sinfonia, Hallé and Royal Scottish National Orchestra, and abroad with the Russian State Symphony Orchestra at the Tchaikovsky Hall and Great Hall in Moscow, Bergen Philharmonic, L’Orchestre National de Lille, L’Orchestre Rencontres Suisse, and on three tours with the Sofia Philharmonic and the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra. In 2002 she joined the BBC Concert Orchestra and conductor Barry Wordsworth on a six-week 50th Anniversary tour of the USA and she has toured the UK, Mexico and Turkey with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra with whom she has now given over sixty concerts.
In recent years, Lucy Parham has established herself as a leading interpreter of the works of Robert Schumann and of his wife, Clara. Her unique recording of both Robert’s and Clara’s piano concertos (with the BBC Concert Orchestra and Barry Wordsworth on Sanctuary Classics) was named Critics’ Choice of the Year by BBC Music Magazine. Among her other recordings are concertos by Ravel, Franck and Fauré (with the RPO for RPO Records), Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue (with both the BBC Concert Orchestra for BBC Worldwide and the RPO for EMI Gold), a solo Chopin CD for ABM, the album ’The Romantic Piano’ for Sanctuary Classics and an acclaimed solo Schumann CD on ASV.
2002 brought the premiere, in the context of Wigmore Hall’s Masters Series, of her first concert of words and music concert, Beloved Clara, which traces the relationship between Robert and Clara Schumann and Brahms. It has since been performed around the UK and in Los Angeles (where it was recorded for broadcast on National Public Radio) and at over 100 venues. The return performance of Beloved Clara to the Wigmore Hall’ London Piano Series in 2010 received a five star review in the Independent – “ a lovely entertainment – flawlessly performed”. Critical acclaim for ASV’s CD release of Beloved Clara, featuring actors Joanna David and Martin Jarvis, has included selection as CD of the Week by The Sunday Times, Guardian and Observer.
The success of Beloved Clara has inspired four further evenings of words and music. Liszt – An Odyssey of Love, premiered in 2008 in the Wigmore Hall’s London Pianoforte Series and has since received numerous performances around the UK; like Beloved Clara, it was also taken to Los Angeles and broadcast on National Public Radio. In 2010, Nocturne – The Romantic Life of Frédéric Chopin made its London debut at the Wigmore Hall, with Dame Harriet Walter and Samuel West taking the roles of George Sand and the composer. The CD of Nocturne has been released on the Deux-Elles label (with Harriet Walter and Samuel West) to critical acclaim. The CD of Odyssey of Love (with Juliet Stevenson and Henry Goodman) was released in 2015, also for Deux-Elles. In 2012, the 150th anniversary of Debussy’s death, a fourth biographical portrait, Rêverie – the life and loves of Claude Debussy was performed throughout the UK, culminating a performance at the Wigmore Hall, as part of the London Piano Series. The CD of Rêverie (with Alex Jennings) was released in 2017 and was a “Critics’ Choice of the Year” by Music Web International. Her next show, Elegie – Rachmaninoff, A Heart in Exile was premiered at St Johns Smith Square and is now touring the UK. The CD (with Henry Goodman) has recently been released.
Her latest show I,Clara celebrates the 200th anniversary of the birth of Clara Schumann and begins touring from February 2019.
Celebrated actors who have collaborated with Lucy Parham in these composer portraits include Juliet Stevenson, Harriet Walter, Simon Russell Beale, Simon Callow, Jane Asher, Jeremy Irons, Roger Allam, Henry Goodman, Dominic West, Emilia Fox, Joanna David, Alistair McGowan, Patricia Hodge, Niamh Cusack, Rosamund Pike, Tim McInnerny, Michael Maloney, Gabrielle Drake, Edward Fox, Lloyd Owen, Robert Glenister, Greg Wise, Samuel West, Alex Jennings, Martin Jarvis, Timothy West and Charles Dance.
A collaboration with renowned actor Henry Goodman in Strauss’ epic melodrama, Enoch Arden for several performances has resulted in an acclaimed recording released in 2016 for Deux-Elles. Her special connection with Schumann was recognised in invitations to direct two anniversary festivals devoted the composer: ‘The Poet Speaks’ at Cadogan Hall in London in 2006 and the Schumann 200 Festival at King’s Place, London in 2010.
Lucy Parham first came to public attention as the Piano Winner of the 1984 BBC TV “Young Musician of the Year”. Having made her Royal Festival Hall concerto debut at 16, she has since appeared regularly at all the major concert venues in London and around the UK. Conductors with whom she collaborated include Barry Wordsworth, Sir Charles Groves, Bryden Thompson, Jane Glover, En Shao, Richard Hickox, Antoni Wit, Owain Arwel Hughes, Yoav Talmi, Carl Davis, Veronika Dudarova, Martyn Brabbins, Sian Edwards, John Wilson and Jean-Claude Cassadesus. She has appeared at almost all the major Festivals in the UK.
Lucy Parham is frequently heard as a guest or presenter on BBC Radio 3 and 4 including the Today programme, Front Row, Something Understood, Building a Library, Sunday Feature, CD Review, Proms Plus, The Essay, Tales from the Stave, Music Matters, Composer of the Week, Young Musician of the Year, Sunday Salon and Saturday Classics. She has broadcast on BBC TV and Radio 3 as the commentator on the Leeds International Piano Competition in 2006, 2009 and 2015. She has frequently been a jury member for the final of the BBC Young Musician of the Year and in 2016 she was a member of the jury at the Robert Schumann International Piano Competition in Zwickau, Germany.
In 2017/18 she presents her second series of Sheaffer Sunday Matinees – comprising al five of her Composer Portrait concerts. She has been the Artistic Director of the Kings Place Coffee Concerts (Word/Play) and of the Guildford Spring Festival.
Lucy Parham is a Professor at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London.
Acknowledged as one of Britain’s finest pianists, Lucy Parham applies her sensitivity and imagination not only to concertos and recitals, but also to portraits in words and music of such composers as Schumann, Chopin, Liszt, Debussy and Rachmaninoff.
Her life-long passion for the music of Schumann inspired the original concept of the words and music evening, Beloved Clara. Two further evenings, Liszt – An Odyssey of Love and Nocturne – The Romantic Life of Frédéric Chopin also premiered in the London Piano Series at the Wigmore Hall. These musical portraits have toured the UK and abroad, also making their US debuts in Los Angeles and subsequently broadcast on NPR across the USA. The fourth programme, Rêverie – the life and loves of Claude Debussy was premiered at the Wigmore Hall London Piano Series with Henry Goodman. The CDs of Beloved Clara (Martin Jarvis/Joanna David), Nocturne (Samuel West/Harriet Walter), Odyssey of Love (Henry Goodman/Juliet Stevenson) and Rêverie (Alex Jennings) have all been released to critical acclaim.
Her fifth show, Elégie – Rachmaninoff, A Heart In Exile” is touring the UK and the CD (Henry Goodman) is now available.
The latest Composer Portrait I, Clara has been created for 2109. It celebrates Clara Schumann’s 200th anniversary.
Celebrated actors who have collaborated with Lucy Parham in these composer portraits include Juliet Stevenson, Harriet Walter, Henry Goodman, Simon Russell Beale, Simon Callow, Henry Goodman, Dominic West, Joanna David, Roger Allam, Alistair McGowan, Patricia Hodge, Niamh Cusack, Rosamund Pike, Tim McInnerny, Edward Fox, Robert Glenister, Samuel West, Alex Jennings, Martin Jarvis, Timothy West and Charles Dance.
Lucy Parham has made numerous recordings including Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue (RPO/EMI Gold), concertos by Ravel, Fauré and Franck (RPO Records) and two solo Schumann CDs (ASV). Her CD of Clara and Robert Schumann Concertos (BBC CO/Sanctuary) won the BBC Music Magazine “Critics’ Choice of the Year”
Lucy Parham first came to public attention as the Piano Winner of the 1984 “BBC Young Musician of the Year”. Since her Royal Festival Hall concerto debut at the age of 16, she has played throughout the UK as concerto soloist with most of the major British orchestras and is a frequent recitalist at the Wigmore Hall. She has also toured the USA with the BBC Concert Orchestra on their 50th anniversary, as well as Mexico and Turkey with Royal Philharmonic Orchestra with whom she has now given over 60 performances. Abroad, she has toured with the Russian State Symphony, Sofia Philharmonic, Bergen Philharmonic, Polish National Radio SO and L’Orchestre National de Lille.
Lucy Parham is a regular guest and presenter on BBC Radio 3 and 4. Programmes include Something Understood, CD Review, Front Row, The Today programme, Proms Plus, Tales from the Stave, The Essay, Music Matters, Building a Library, Composer of the Week, Young Musician of the Year and Saturday Classics. She has broadcast several times on the BBC as the commentator on the Leeds International Piano Competition and has frequently been a judge and radio presenter for the Final of BBC Young Musician of the Year. She was invited to be the Director of the 2006 Schumann Anniversary Festival at Cadogan Hall and the Director of Schumann 200 Festival at King’s Place in 2010. In 2016 she was a member of the jury at the Robert Schumann International Piano Competition in Zwickau, Germany.
In 2017/18 she presents her second series of Sheaffer Sunday Matinees – comprising all five of her Composer Portrait concerts. She is Artistic Director of the Kings Place Coffee Concerts (Word/Play series) and of the Guildford Spring Festival.
Lucy Parham is a Professor at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London. www.lucyparham.com
“Lucy Parham’s trailblazing evening concerts in which she fuses music and words with the help of some of our most distinguished thespians, have become one of the must -see events on the musical calendar. In an age that has seen the piano become increasingly objectified, Parham takes her listeners back to a golden age when music was a metaphor for life itself. Hers is playing that is not so much about the actual notes but exploring the elusive regions of expressive reverie that lie tantalisingly hidden between and behind them.”
BBC Music Magazine.
“From the opening Elégie Op. 3 to the closing Moment Musical No.6 Parham and Goodman between them paint a loving, 100 -minute portrait of the ever-melancholic Rachmaninoff”
***** 5 stars
“This is the crowning glory of Parham’s Composer Portrait series”
***** (5 stars)
“Narrated snapshots of Rachmaninoff’s life interspersed with Parham’s soulful playing. Henry Goodman captivates.”
**** (Four stars)
“A superb evocation of the life and music of Sergei Rachmaninoff.
The design of the listening experience is skilfully and subtly structured, and the manner is engaging and intimate, so that the great Sergei himself seems to be recalling his life for us as we listen.”
“Lucy Parham’s trailblazing evening concerts in which she fuses music and words with the help of some of our most distinguished thespians, have become one of the must-see events on the musical calendar.”
“Many melodramas were deliberately contrived for domestic performance. Lucky indeed would be the home that could command the services of two such artists in their midst.
This recording would have rejoiced the composer’s heart “
Enoch Arden CD (Lucy Parham/Henry Goodman)
“I much enjoy performing these concerts. Why? Well, let’s face it, I have a free seat listening to Lucy Parham’s sublime playing!”
“Audiences have told us that because of music and words they gain extra insight into the composers’ lives – and to the creativity behind the music. Which is just what’s intended! “
“There is nothing more satisfying than listening to great music, beautifully performed, while, at the same time, learning a little about the world in which it came into being and about the people who created it.
Lucy Parham’s concerts offer just that – a wonderful way to spend a couple of hours.”
“Lucy has a real gift for drawing her audience into the music through these beautifully crafted programmes. I always feel as if I am performing chamber music, such is the intimacy of each show. To sit by her whilst she plays transports me to another world.”
“We’re not good in this country at appreciating ‘home-grown talent’. Somehow even the most appreciative public fails to expect English women pianists to be fabulous Chopin players. Yet Lucy Parham proved that is exactly what she is, blending full-blown, technicolour romanticism with sophistication and intuitive intelligence.”
“Performing in Lucy’s shows is very special, and sharing the stage with a brilliant concert pianist is a pleasure and a privilege. Each one is much more than just reading a selection of letters and diary entries, as Lucy’s plays (that is how I think of them) require complete immersion in the character. The music and the words carry both actor and audience on a great journey. What she has created is remarkable. I always look forward to the next opportunity.”
“I really love doing these concerts with Lucy. The letters and journals of these two great artists enable the audience to hear their music freshly, illuminated by the insights into their personal and domestic lives. Lucy’s passion for these great composers infuses the whole evening, and her playing is glorious.”
“Lucy Parham is a true artist and these unique concerts enable the listener to connect to the spirit and soul of the composer.”
“These wonderful concerts are so cleverly organic because the composers become alive again. This happens before your eyes and it transforms the musical experience for the audience.
The composers speak directly, frankly and intimately about the secrets of the lives shared and, coupled with the superb playing of Lucy Parham, their music is transformed”
“The readings combine great dignity with a delicate poignancy. The changing moods of the Schumann and Brahms repertoire, from the capricious and turbulent to the reflective and haunting, are deftly interpreted by Lucy Parham. The whole is an intimate portrait, with the passions of the presenters as palpable as those of their subjects.”
“This is a beautifully put – together portrait of one of classical music’s most romantic and tragic marriages and it’s every bit as glamorous and star crossed as Romeo and Juliet. Brahms’s description of Schumann’s death, with Clara kneeling by his bed is almost unbearably moving. Kleenex required”
“Lucy is not only an excellent pianist – she is also a musical communicator par excellence who demonstrates a strong rapport with the music she performs and possesses a deep insight into the character of the composers who wrote it. We could not have had more eloquent readers than Dame Harriet and Alex Jennings to speak the words, their performances harmonising so beautifully with the atmosphere created by the music. But this was essentially an evening where the music took centre stage. Lucy Parham surmounted the challenges of the optimistic Ballade No 3 with ease, while her performance of the No 4 with all its grandeur and profundity was a revelation and greeted with acclaim by the perceptive audience. The whole evening was a remarkable accomplishment”
“There’s no better version (of the Robert and Clara Schumann/Brahms story) than the one devised and presented by pianist Lucy Parham. A lovely entertainment, flawlessly performed”
***** (5 stars)
“These composers are frequently heroes of mine. It is fascinating to try and embody them. I learn a lot about them that I didn’t know previously. And I get to hear some beautiful piano music, inspiringly played, at very close quarters”
“Narrating George Sand or Clara Schumann and then hearing the music they inspired really makes what I have to say more vivid. I love working with Lucy because she plays so beautifully and she delights in collaboration…which I delight in too”
“I love performing Lucy’s shows because the narrative and the music inform each other, and therefore make each individual composer more accessible to an audience, especially those (like myself!) who are maybe not as familiar with classical music as others”
“I feel so fortunate to be able to work with a musician like Lucy, such a brilliantly accomplished and sensitive artist. I certainly take inspiration from hearing such undeniably great music up close and personal, as it were. It has been a huge privilege to be a part of Lucy’s recreations of the lives of Chopin, and Debussy, and now Rachmaninoff”
“I love doing shows with Lucy. I read the fascinating lives and letters of great composers and then get to hear their music, played on a beautiful piano by a truly miraculous performer”
“It is a great treat and privilege to sit so close to Lucy Parham at the piano and hear this wonderful music. It stimulates the emotions and brings one closer to the composers we play. It is also exciting to give some kind of living presence to these fascinating musical geniuses who lived so long ago”
“In an age that has seen the piano become increasingly objectified, Parham takes her listeners back to a golden age when music was a metaphor for life itself. Hers is playing that is not so much about the actual notes but exploring the elusive regions of expressive reverie that lie tantalisingly hidden between and behind them”
“The concept is brilliant, it totally works, is engaging, insightful and informative, and there is not a trace of tricksiness or flash about it.”
“A beautiful performance by Lucy Parham and Henry Goodman”
“Winningly compiled and performed, Parham’s drama places the French composer’s music in fascinating context. Jennings narrates with wit and authority” ****
“It is a pleasure to perform these highly original shows. With such an irresistible combination of letters, diary entries, observations of the period – and the music – audiences are drawn closer to the composers’ often turbulent lives. Tears, laughter and a pin-drop atmosphere are testament to the validity of this heartfelt approach.”
“The music in Parham’s programme was chosen to reflect the mood of the letters, and this it did with great success. Henry Goodman is a brilliant character actor, and here he gave us a gallery of characters… he cast a bleak spell as the loneliness of fame and the bitterness of illness kicked in. Meanwhile, Parham’s playing superbly covered the musical bases, from the lazy opulence of ‘Soirée dans Grenade’ to the glacial chill of ‘Des pas sur la neige’, from the tintinnabulation of ‘Pagodes’ to the chaste beauty of ‘La fille aux cheveux de lin’.” ****
“It is a treat to hear playing in which expressively, nothing is extraneous and everything is at a high level of intelligence and imagination”
“Lucy Parham surmounted the challenges of the optimistic Ballade No 3 with ease, while her performance of the Ballade No 4 with all its grandeur and profundity was a revelation. The whole evening was a remarkable accomplishment”
“Parham performs with real sensitivity and elan… Juliet Stevenson and Henry Goodman declaim the letters with relish.”
“Liszt’s intimate letters and diaries come to life on this CD with pianist Lucy Parham and two formidable actors, Juliet Stevenson and Henry Goodman. To hear the actors narrate life, love and langour is a rare pleasure, as rare as finding a programme where words, music and poetry are tightly connected. Particularly magical are the yearning Un Sospiro and thrilling Chasse Neige. And Parham has total control of even the most difficult passages. With music ranging from hushed inwardness to stormy flashiness, Liszt led a life paralleling his music – and here it is, all bound together in living in music history.”
***** (Five stars)
“Lucy Parham has carved out a unique concert hall slot with her words and music portraits of the great pianist-composers. To achieve this requires multiple skills – researching and compiling the texts, securing the services of top-flight actors to narrate, devising the music to fit, and performing this herself.
Liszt emerges as the contradictory and likeable individual that he clearly was. Henry Goodman and Juliet Stevenson excel in their spoken portrayals of the man himself and the two high-octane ladies in his life.
Parham’s playing searches out lyrical artistry and tonal loveliness; in Chasse Neige, she brings out all its haunting poetry and the Petrarch Sonnet No 104 and Un Sospiro could hold their own anywhere.”
**** (Four stars)
“Parham is extremely enterprising… she has crafted a memorable yarn that’s delivered with consummate narrative coherence by actors Juliet Stevenson and Henry Goodman, while Parham provides musical context and links through her performances of carefully selected gems”
“Parham’s velvet-gloved sonority and rare ability to impart a poetic coherence to Chopin’s stream-of-consciousness flights of inspiration has one listening afresh.”
“The Best Chopin of the Year”
“A passionate, humorous and deeply moving portrait of the relationship between Chopin and Sand”