REVIEW: ‘Sparkling Valentine Concert’ at Ely Cathedral is just perfect and highly entertaining

Warren Mailley-Smith and Susan Parkes

Warren Mailley-Smith and Susan Parkes - Credit: Archant

Locally-born Warren Mailley-Smith is undoubtedly a highly talented pianist, so an evening of Chopin, candlelight and subtle lighting in our magnificent Ely Cathedral was indeed a most romantic occasion.

With phenomenal technique, teasing out every nuance of emotion in the melodies of Chopin, Warren mesmerised the audience.

No matter how much clarity, virtuosity and skill the pieces demanded, Warren made them look easy and shaped the sounds so exquisitely that the listeners could not help but understand the romantic essence of the great composer.

It is no wonder this pianist is in demand by the British Royal Family and has been invited to play for them over thirty times.

Among the works Warren played included a number of familiar scherzos, waltzes and nocturnes by Chopin along with his ‘Berceuse’, ‘Fantasie-Impromptu in C sharp minor’, two movements from his ‘Sonata number 2’, the ‘Military Polonaise’ and ‘Ballade number one’.

Susan Parkes, well renowned soprano, sang two of Chopin’s songs in Polish, his native language, and entertained us with some delightful Italian opera music by Puccini (‘O mio babbino caro’ and ‘Quando m’en vo’ and Bellini (‘Ah non credea mirati’).

Her powerful voice rang richly through the cathedral and her antics were highly entertaining.

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Warren managed to continue with the accompaniment as her character flirted with him while he was seated at the grand piano, an instrument he said afterward seems to improve with the years.

A glass of bubbly at the interval and a well-deserved encore (‘Clair de Lune’ by Debussy) made the evening just perfect.