As I entered Manchester, I could not help to notice the big, beautiful glass building beside me, and this was where the pianist Freddy Kempf was to perform a piano recital. Inside the Bridgewater Hall was very modern, and the salon in which we seated was very admirable too. The evening was filled with Kempf’s performance of three great pianist composers’ pieces, which he performed with intense feeling and expression.

The first was by the composer Sergey Rachmaninov (1873-1943) and was entitled ‘Variations on a theme of Corelli, Op.42’. Rachmaninov was considered the last greatest Russian Romantic of his time, and this was made evident in his composition. He filled his compositions with intense feelings about love.

The second was by the composer Fryderyk Chopin (1810-49), which consisted of two ballades; ‘No. 1 in G minor, Op.23’ and ‘No. 3 in A flat major, Op.47’. I really liked the way that these ballads had lots of dramatic variations of playing. One moment the pianist was playing softly and before I knew it, the music was so loud and very fast, it shocked me! I found it marvellous and stunning when he played a very fast and high-pitched piece of the music that was enchanting and angelic.

After the interval, which consisted of a hot cup of coffee and a break, we returned to listen to the third composer, which was Franz Liszt (1811-86). Freddy Kempf performed 3 of his ballads; ‘Années de pélerinage, Book 2, ‘Italie’, S161 – Après une lecture du Dante’, ‘Tristan und Isolde (Wagner) – Liebestod, S447’ and ‘Mephiso Waltz No. 1’. Freddy Kempf really did bring the passionate characters that were mentioned in these pieces to life.

As we thought the concert had finished, everybody carried on clapping, which signalled that we wanted an encore, so the pianist returned to the stage, and enchanted us with another shorter ballad, called ‘Nocturne’. This, like all other pieces was faultless again and graceful.

It was unbelievable as I watched Kempf’s fingers dance beautifully on top of the keys at a fast rate that I thought otherwise would be impossible throughout the concert. It made me dizzy to try and watch as in half a second his hands jumped from a very low octave to incredibly high ones repeatedly. I was shocked, as being a pianist myself; I knew how hard it was to play like he did. To do all this and also be able to capture the essence of each one of the great composer’s pieces perfectly was literally too good for words. I have to say it was an amazing experience and Freddy Kempf did do these great piano composers proud.

By Yasmin Zara Harris, aged 14

Yasmin attended a recital given by Freddy Kemp on 20th October 2009 at Bridgewater Hall, Manchester. He played Rachmaninov, Chopin and Liszt.

credit: Bridgewater Hall by Jan Chlebik