Edinburgh Fringe 2014
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 concert pianists. That much is evident from their first note even though they were reworking Coldplay’s “Yellow” into something that was intriguing and surprisingly mellifluous. Not a bad way to start an hour of sublime piano playing.
Their trademark is to take the well known and rearrange for four hands sharing eighty-eight keys. 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 and convincing you that the piano is, in fact, producing a sound more redolent of, say, a guitar as was the case with their rendition of Leyenda, although the irony here is that Albeniz originally wrote this piece for piano.
Vidor’s Toccata is normally only tackled by an organist with quick feet and hands, so transcribing and playing that 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. We were also introduced to a medley based around Pachelbel’s Canon (a late 17th Century composition that has been “borrowed” by many composers of pop songs since), jazz, baroque and many other genres in what was a whirlwind of a performance.
And this year, the duo have branched out and included works they have composed themselves. We had Ziggurat, a dexterous composition for eight hands which had them accompanying a pre-recording of themselves. We also heard the premier of a concerto they’ve just completed, a homage to Edinburgh at Fringe time. Whilst strictly speaking this concerto was without an orchestra, the Edinburgh Symphony Orchestra was beamed into the Assembly Rooms via a “video link” from the Freemasons Hall down the road to add body to three delightful movements that included a fanfare, what Farrell described as the “sad bit in the middle” and a tango to conclude.
And to finish, what else but Tchaikovsky’s 1812 overture, written originally for a ninety piece orchestra, but captured perfectly inside three minutes with just four hands and a piano. Cue rapturous applause from the audience (around two thirds of whom owned up to having played the piano themselves) and an encore that was as amusing as it was ingenuous.
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.