Warren Mailley-Smith's 'Evening with Chopin': a real highlight ends the fourth series of St Peter's Church recitals

Written by Tony Millett.

Warren Mailley-SmithWarren Mailley-SmithIt is quite a haul to get to the London concert venue St John's, Smith Square from Marlborough.  So how very fortunate Marlborough music lovers are to have a key recital - pianist Warren Mailley-Smith playing Chopin - in their midst, at St Peter's Church just two days after the audience in St John's Smith Square heard it as part of his Complete Chopin Cycle.

Warren Mailley-Smith studied at the Royal College of Music - winning many postgraduate prizes.  He has had over thirty invitations to play for the Royal Family and has performed Beethoven's Emperor Concerto with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

When he comes to Marlborough on June 19, Warren Mailley-Smith will be one recital away from the end of his Chopin marathon at St John's Smith Square - playing all 230 of Frederic Chopin's piano compositions.

Marlborough.News asked Warren Mailley-Smith why he had set out last September on this eleven recital marathon: "I love playing Chopin's music and I wanted to stretch my personal boundaries and explore every last detail of this great composer's contribution to the piano repertoire."

And what kind of experience has it been so far?  "It's been a hugely rewarding project to undertake - quite exhausting, but a huge amount of fun. I thought I might get sick and tired of playing his music - not at all - in fact quite the contrary."

His St Peter's recital will be a reprise of the penultimate recital of the series.  It is a varied programme of Chopin miniatures - five mazurkas, three polonaises, the well-loved Berceuse in D flat, the Trois Nouvelles Études and more.  It ends with the Barcarolle in F sharp Opus 60 which has inspired many composers.

What is it that makes the Barcarolle so special? "It is", Warren told Marlborough.News, "a masterpiece.  This work was written at the height of his artistic maturity.  It seems to encapsulate everything which he had developed as a composer - wonderful sense of structure, climatic build-up, ravishing harmonies and terrific contrasts of virtuosity and poetry."

Warren Mailley-Smith acknowledges that Chopin's music has never been out of fashion.  Why does he think that is?:  "It's the perennial quality of his melodies and because of the direct communication and the raw emotion of his music."

Reviews of his Complete Chopin Cycle series have been full of praise for Warren Mailley-Smith's interpretation and assured technique: "In Warren’s hands each (Etude) was a minor miracle, sensitively rendered and deftly delivered...the overall result was exceptionally engaging and intense.”

Another reviewer referred to his playing of Four Ballades: ”Chopin would have enjoyed the beauty, sensitivity and intellectual nous that Warren Mailley-Smith brought to his performance."

To get a preview of his interpretation of Chopin, you can watch and hear Warren Mailley-Smith playing Chopin's Grand Valse Brillante in E flat major. He says it is a composition "Brillante by name, brilliant by nature."  

We asked Warren why he chose to play the Complete Chopin Cycle at St John's Smith Square: "Beautiful acoustic, wonderful piano...and an ideal location."  He will certainly find a very fine piano and good acoustic at St Peter's Church - and undoubtedly a very appreciative audience.

This recital will be introduced by Robin Nelson - former head of music at Marlborough College whose Memoirs of a Music Man are appearing on Marlborough.News

Full details of tickets etc are here.

The fifth series of what must now be titled 'Brilliant Young International Pianists and Musicians' will start at St Peter's Church in October with Taiwanese pianist An-Ting Chang.  Her recital will range from Mozart and Schubert to Gershwin's Walking the Dog, Copland's The Cat and the Mouse and her own arrangement of Saint-Saens' Carnival of the Animals.  

She will be followed by the Castalian String Quartet playing Ravel, Thomas Ades and Brahms.  

The fifth series will once again be sponsored by Hiscox Insurance. Watch this space for a full preview of the series coming later in June.