Cover Feature
International Piano Magazine

(Issue No 20, July/Aug 2013)

Cover Interview Pianist Magazine
(Issue No 28, page 12, 13, 14)

So many things happen for a
reason,’ says Lucy Parham,
who emerged into the spotlight
at the 1984 BBC Young Musician
of the Year.
Her love of Schumann is the
reason behind her new recording and a festival she’s just launched
in London

Elégie - Lucy Parham

Rêverie - Lucy Parham

Beloved Clara - Lucy Parham
Odyssey of Love - Lucy Parham
Nocturne - Lucy Parham
Press Reviews

Odyssey of Love
Liszt and His Women

  • “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. In a carefully thought out selection of pieces, 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)
    Pianist Magazine, September 2015

  • “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. Despite the title, there is nothing remotely sensation-seeking about the contents of this release. On the contrary, Liszt emerges as the contradictory and likeable individual that he clearly was – phenomenon whose personality, like his music, combined spectacle with reflectiveness and, in his later years, much melancholy. 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 a memorable strand of lyrical artistry and tonal loveliness. There are no dud interpretations and the best – Petrarch Sonnet No 104 and Un Sospiro – could hold their own anywhere. In Chasse Neige, Parham brings out all its haunting poetry – a quality she also finds in the sparer, late-Liszt sound-world of Sancta Dorothea and Am Grabe Richard Wagners ”
    Performance **** (FOUR STARS)
    Recording ***** (FOUR STARS)
    Malcolm Hayes /BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE/ JULY 2015

  • “As a grizzled Lisztophile of many decades standing, I've been listening with great pleasure and enjoyment to pianist Lucy Parham's latest exploration, through words and music, into the life, mind and many loves (in this case) of a great composer, here Franz Liszt. Parham is extremely enterprising, having scripted the tale of Liszt and two of his greatest loves, Countess Marie d' Agoult and the almost unbelievable, cigar-smoking Princess Caroline Sayn-Wittgenstein, by drawing from correspondence and diaries. 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, including Un Sospiro, Schubert and Schumann song transcriptions and some less-familiar later pieces. Parham's virtuosity is functional, never spangly. She's done other composers, including Chopin and Schumann - I must get 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. ”
    Michael Tumelty/ Scottish Herald/ June 2015

The Romantic Life of Frédéric Chopin

  • “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. She paints the rich musical canvases of the ballades with a beguiling range of hues and colours and an exquisite feeling for rubato that appears to grow naturally out of the music's internal fabric. Indeed, no matter how many times one has heard these captivating miniatures, 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. Experienced in the context of Harriet Walter's and Samuel West's compelling exploration of the Chopin-George Sand love affair through their letters and diary entries, the music assumes a special sense of poignancy. ”
    Performance **** (FOUR STARS)
    Recording ***** (FIVE STARS)
    Julian Haylock, BBC MUSIC MAGAZINE / APRIL 2014


  • “Winningly compiled and performed, Parham's drama places the French composer's music in fascinating context. Jennings narrates with wit and authority” **** (FOUR STARS)

  • “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’.” **** (FOUR STARS)

Beloved Clara

  • “Lucy Parham is steeped in Schumann’s life and music, as was evident from the passion and empathy she brought to the first movement of his Piano Sonata No.2, in which he pours out his passionate feelings for Clara.This sensitive portrayal engendered a fuller appreciation of three musical icons and their music. Lucy Parham’s impressive and informed playing was the icing on the cake.”

  • “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)

  • “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.

  • On their wedding day in 1840, the composer Robert Schumann presented his bride Clara with a diary, proposing that they both use it to record the hopes, fears and events of their marriage. On that happy day, how could they know that only 16 years later he would have gone insane and died, and she and her seven children would have been abruptly deserted by the young Johannes Brahms, their protégé and friend? Moving extracts from the diary and their letters tell the tragic story. Martin Jarvis and Joanna David perform with touching sensitivity, and pianist Lucy Parham provides another eloquent “voice”, playing the music that all three composed in the turmoil of their passionate lives. Executed with talent and flair.

  • Beloved Clara can be seen live on stage with the actors and Parham, but for those not fortunate enough to hear it live, this well-produced disc gives and hour-long reflection on the three musicians. The music is played with tenderness, respect for the composer and devoid of any idiosyncrasies by Parham, not least thanks to some well-chosen music examples, played with tenderness, respect for the composer and devoid of any idiosyncrasies. Readings from the diaries and intimate letters are delivered with great flair and authority by the actors Joanna David and Martin Jarvis. If you only get a very short snapshot of the Schumann Pianos Concerto, you can hear Parham play it complete on her ASV/Cirrus Classics recording and if you want a recording close to what Schumann had in mind, this is a fine recording to go for.
    PIANIST MAGAZINE October 2007

  • “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.”
    THE OBSERVER - 29/07/07

  • This is a concert programme that has proved popular, and the sequence of piano pieces (all solos, except for the opening splash of Schumann’s Piano Concerto, done with the BBC Concert Orchestra under Barry Wordsworth) and readings builds up a moving picture of the life of Schumann, his pianist-composer wife, Clara, and Brahms. It is a tragic tale: Schumann went mad, Brahms’s passion for Clara was unfulfilled. The music of all three is heard, along with a piece by Mendelssohn. Parham puts across her sensitive choice of 15 short items feelingly, and the narrators are excellent. The texts move from open-heartedness into ever more troubling complexity.
    Paul Driver
    THE SUNDAY TIMES - 22/07/07

  • Lucy Parham is one of the finest Schumann exponents around. But rather than record a straight recital on this occasion, she has chosen to weave a set of sublimely played miniatures by the Schumanns, Brahms and Mendelssohn against the background of the love triangle that was Robert and Clara Schumann and Johannes Brahms. Using the composers’ private diary entries, as read by Joanna David and Martin Jarvis, it’s the kind of thing that could easily stumble on the path of good intentions, yet everything is so compellingly presented that one can hardly help but become wound up in the narrative
    Julian Haylock
    **** (four stars)

  • All three performers are given a satisfying amount of good material into which to sink their teeth. The music is well chosen and played with an exquisite touch and stylistic empathy by Parham.

Schumann Piano Sonata No.2 in G minor, Op.22, Kreisleriana, Op.16, Papillons, Op.2 - Lucy Parham (piano)

  • "Finding a satisfying course between the 'Florestan' and 'Eusebius' (the former an outward-going, robust figure, the latter a subdued introspective) in Schumann's complex creative personality is one of the greatest challenges faced by any pianist. Three cheers for Lucy Parham, then, who manages to characterise these keyboard classics without resorting to pianistic hyperbole. By keeping everything within sensible interpretative parameters Kreisleriana's neurotic changeability and the stylistic flutterings of Papillons are made to cohere more convincingly than usual. This is a charming recital."
    ASV CDDCM 4501
    Julian Haylock

  • This is a well-recorded and well-played disc that can join the list of great Schumann interpretations and give pleasure to aficionados of Schumann’s piano music.
    Parham has the right temperament for Schumann’s two-sided musical personality, creating a spontaneous, ebullient effect in the extroverted music, and a sensitively phrased, warm effect in the intimate, introspective music.

  • Lucy Parham is a real Schumann enthusiast and she has many virtues in this recording: clarity of articulation, rhythmic sense and ability to strike overall balance at the speeds and in the moods she has chosen. She is a brave woman as the competition in this repertoire is fierce. But there is no doubting, anywhere, her strong feeling for this music, her response to its kaleidoscopic moods, particularly in the song-like movements, to Schumann’s peculiar combination of potency and secrecy. She is equally persuasive.
    Piers Burton-Page

BBC Concert Orchestra USA Tour / Wordsworth / 2002

  • "Pianist Lucy Parham shared with violinist Nicola Loud a light, unforced sound and softly shaped tone, though in Schumann's Piano Concerto, she offered a far more sculpted, poetically flowing performance."

  • "Her performance was fiery, muscular and determined" (Rhapsody in Blue)

  • "Pianist Lucy Parham did an excellent job with Grieg's Piano Concerto. Her phrasing worked well with the light, playful feeling of the orchestra around her. Parham is a team player. Although she ended her passages with an arabesque flourish she kept her eyes on Wordsworth. She got a standing ovation. Lucy Parham is the reason I gave up playing the piano."

  • "The evening's virtuoso offering was soloist Lucy Parham in Schumann's Piano Concerto. Although her sense of the music's passion and warmth was there in abundance, Parham also unveiled larger issues. With its shimmering show of shifting accents, her reading allowed the composer's innovative musical language to stand on its own. In the process she focused attention on Schumann's pivotal role in establishing a process of dazzling disarray that would later be termed Romanticism.

    This was no easy task. The reckless beauty of Schumann's only piano concerto is irresistible, but also challenging to the soloist. His writing disguises its demands - the radiance and barely suppressed urgency can be difficult to convey, but Parham surmounted these energetically.

    Key to her success was the meticulous care with which she separated the voices when the material required it. This performance was an example of patent musicianship.

  • "Lucy Parham’s performance was a rollicking success" (Rhapsody in Blue)

Various quotes from the Press:

  • "Lucy Parham and actor Henry Goodman brought the Schumann drama to vivid life" BBC Proms 2010

  • “Lucy Parham was thoughtful, integrated and laconic.”
    Rhapsody in Blue/RPO/Cadogan Hall, London
    July 2007

  • “"The soloist, Lucy Parham, brought out the all quicksilver changes of mood and subtle detail of Schumann's piano concerto (with the RPO) in a touching way"

  • "A highly gifted and sensitive musician. This was playing of real artistry and stylistic conviction."

  • "It is a treat to hear playing in which expressively, nothing is extraneous and everything is at a high level of intelligence and imagination. Her Schubert and Frank were characterised by big-boned playing and thinking."

  • "A most impressive performance, both witty and technically brilliant."
    " Two wonderful hours of Schumann by pianist Lucy Parham."

  • "Lucy Parham played with truly delicate grace."
    " She gave a dazzling version of Debussy's L'isle joyeuse which she sailed through with considerable energy, and in the Rachmaninov she gave herself up to the sonorous warmth of this big-boned music, and made us much readier to face the wintry night outside."

  • "Pianist Lucy Parham helped to make the penultimate concert in the Halle Proms one of the most memorable nights of the season. In Beethoven's Third Piano Concerto we were treated to piano playing at its most vibrantly romantic, encompassing the full range of the keyboard with expressive ardour. The audience revelled in the soloist's crisp artistry from the dreamy eloquence of the Second Movement to the fiery fleet-fingered finale."

  • "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."


Genial Design


Lucy Parham on twitter Lucy Parham on Facebook view my YouTube channel