Fiona Maddocks went to hear a recital last week by Steven Osborne, playing the same music that (unknown to her) had just blown us away in the Lebrecht Album of the Week.
Fiona saw the full five stars. She writes today in her Observer column:
Psychologists, with a name for everything, call it sedatephobia. Fear of silence. The compulsion to talk when the room falls quiet, to switch on the radio in an empty room, to rush from country quiet back to the reassuring roar of town. In part, this is about noise pollution. In part, it’s about hearing rather than listening, passivity rather than action. By calling his solo recital at the Barbican’s Milton Court The Music of Silence, the pianist Steven Osborne confronted the matter head on, with music by Morton Feldman (1926-87) and George Crumb (b1929). Although the works of these American avant garde composers had outbursts of noisy eruption, the primary issue was stillness. Even the tiny clicks of expanding and contracting overhead lights sounded fortissimo against the quietness of Osborne’s playing. No one clapped between pieces. There was barely a fidget or a cough. Nothing disturbed the concentration. The whole experience was a kind of enchantment.
And more here.
So why does this matter?
Because Steven Osborne had to use all of his persuasive powers to convince even an enterprising independent label like Hyperion to let him record contemporary esoteric music that he believed in with every fibre of his being. He got his way, just.
The result is a phenomenal recording, life-altering, ineradicable.
The artist was right. The artist usually is.
Let’s start believing it.