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Edinburgh Fringe 2015

Worbey & Farrell’s House Party

Worbey & Farrell

Genre: Music

Venue: Assembly Rooms, George Street


Low Down

Behind the light, witty badinage and piano antics are two very, very gifted concert pianists. Make no mistake about it, Worbey and Farrell are the real deal. A must see for music lovers.


Stephen Worbey and Kevin Farrell are on a mission. The goal of their 2015 House Party is to brighten up piano recitals which so many people find rather erudite and, well, dull. So, armed only with a single piano, twice the number of digits normally applied to it and a smattering of witty badinage, they set forth to entertain.

The W&F trademark is to take the well-known and rearrange for four hands on the ninety-two keys of their brand spanking new grand piano. No matter that the original work might have been written for anything from a string quartet up to a full ninety piece orchestra, Worbey and Farrell will find a way of re-packaging the key elements of the piece.

This show follows a simple, but very effective formula. Grab the attention of the audience with a medley of the familiar and popular, then gradually change the pace and mood as you move into the more serious stuff before wrapping things up with something light and fluffy that showcases the performers’ digital dexterity.

So we kicked off with good old Gershwin, around which they fitted the funny and the familiar before these consummate entertainers steered the ship towards their core strength – the classics. Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor is normally only tackled by an organist with quick feet and hands, so transcribing and playing that on a piano with four hands involved some nifty finger work, cleverly highlighted on a video screen for the benefit of the audience. Just don’t try what Worbey and Farrell are doing at home – it will end in tears.

Paganini’s Caprice No.24 has inspired more variations than there are days in the year. Rachmaninov turned it upside down and stuck it in a minor key, Brahms, Barnes, Balsom, Blacher, Bottermund (and that’s just the “B’s”) also tinkered around with it. Even Andrew Lloyd-Webber nicked it and used it as the introduction to The South Bank Show, a long running ITV arts show that aired for over 30 years. The Liszt (yes, he produced a version) is endless. And now, following much note-bashing in recent months, we have the Worbey and Farrell Variations, or Deviations as they have called them, which incorporated rag-time, jazz and several other genre in a delightfully flowing piece of concerto length.

Rounding off, we had a skit on 70’s and 80’s pop that seemed a little out of place but a trademark encore medley of popular classics from musicals ensured that the audience went out humming and beaming.

This format is a great way of placing interesting variations on well-known classics before a mixed audience and behind the engaging chit-chat and piano antics are two very, very gifted concert pianists. Make no mistake about it, Worbey and Farrell are the real deal. A must see for music lovers.