For the most unmusical person in the audience to attempt an appreciation of Sam Haywood's Recital at Rosehill on 13th November must be a most foolish presumption, but I found the experience so riveting that I cannot duck the challenge. Particularly in his performance of Liszt's Sonata in B Minor, his fingers moved too fast at times for my eyes to follow, but every note that Sam played had its precise place and weight in his expression of this epic exploration of the joys and sorrows of the human spirit. His amazing virtuosity never showed off or delighted in itself but humbly served his conception of the passionate statement the composer was making. Soaring aspiration, tender longing, frantic, sometimes desperate energy left me thinking of Vaughan's line about Man as the shuttle to whom God "ordered motion but ordained no rest", until he struck a note of absolute serenity in its final submission to silence. Six great pianists will be playing this work in the coming month, but it is impossible for me to imagine a more satisfying rendering.
It immediately followed the delight of his guided tour of Villa Lobos's charming Doll's Story, the dexterity of his fingers capturing the fragile delicacy of the porcelain doll, the sensuous softness of the rag doll, the witch with her power to make your scalp creep, and the frenetic energy of the clown. He joked without affectation with his neighbours in the audience but left us in no doubt why he is hailed in Germany by Kieler Nachtrichten as "a veritable poet of the keyboard," and by Freie Presse as "an artist who seems to know no limits."