Eloquent Bravura

When I visited London a couple of years ago, I went to see Jonathan Summers at the National Library. He is a walking dictionary about the piano and great pianists, and always has some interesting information to share. On his desk were some records from the Pye label from the 1950s of a pianist I had never heard of, Richard Farrell. When I asked about them, he stated I would probably be interested in him: he was a pianist who had died very young and was an exceptional talent.

I am pretty well-informed about even the least-known of great pianists of the past but his name had never presented itself to me. I was intrigued. Summers said that a New Zealand label was releasing his complete recordings on CD.

Two sets of two discs each are now available on the ‘atoll’ label and they reveal that Farrell was indeed a stupendous talent who played with great flair, a wide dynamic range, and tremendous passion. The discs are exceptionally well recorded and are amazing value (one of them is 85 minutes long). Here is an sample which I uploaded to YouTube as soon as possible (so quickly that I entered the wrong work in the title of the video). I continue to be stunned by the range of Farrell’s tone, the peerless phrasing, and his ability to capture just the right mood of the work. A major discovery and a tragic loss.