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The third programme of words and music scripted and adapted from letters and diaries by Lucy Parham chronicles the romantic life of one the greatest and most popular composers for solo piano – Frédéric Chopin. The narrative follows his turbulent relationship with the controversial literary figure George Sand, their time together in Majorca, his fragile health and his ultimate demise in poverty in Paris at the age of 39. The readings are interspersed with some of his most loved and poignant compositions.
Nocturne received its London première in the London Pianoforte Series at the Wigmore Hall in July 2010 – the 200th anniversary of Chopin’s birth, with Dame Harriet Walter and Samuel West.
Recent and future performances include the Wigmore Hall, Chopin Festival in Mallorca, Kings Place, Chopin Society London, British Library, St John’s Smith Square, Algarve Concert Series, Richmond Theatre London, Hastings International Piano Festival, Rose Theatre Kingston, Shanklin Theatre, White Rock Theatre, Chipping Campden Festival, Cambridge International Festival, St.George’s Bristol, Hertford Theatre, Yeovil Octagon Theatre, Malvern Theatre, Salisbury Playhouse, Chichester Festival Theatre, Winchester Festival, Almeida Theatre, Perth Festival, Bury St. Edmunds Festival, St George’s Hall Bradford, St Paul’s Knightsbridge, Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Harrogate Festival, Sheffield International Concert Series, Middle Temple Recital Series and the Petworth Festival.
Actors include Juliet Stevenson, Alex Jennings, Dame Harriet Walter, Samuel West, Henry Goodman, Guy Paul, Emily Bruni, Guy Henry, Madeleine Potter, Patricia Hodge, Lloyd Owen, Robert Glenister, Niamh Cusack, Emilia Fox, Michael Maloney, Greg Wise, Rosamund Pike, Anna Chancellor, Roger Allam, Miranda Richardson and Rula Lenska.
The CD of Nocturne is now available on the Deux-Elles label with narrators Harriet Walter and Samuel West.
Nocturne was chosen by The Times as “The Best Chopin of the Year” in 2010
“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.”
“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.”
“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”
“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”
“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”
“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”
“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”