They ignored Joshua Bell, now they blank top pianist

They ignored Joshua Bell, now they blank top pianist


norman lebrecht

February 22, 2020

Gabriela Montero had an hour to spare at at Connolly Station in Dublin, so she sat down and played Mozart.

Did anyone pay attention?

Here’s what she writes:
I had never DARED to play on a public piano because I was too embarrassed to do so!

Until today…

But, since I was only able to practice a third of my repertoire this morning at 8 am before I flew to Ireland, I decided to go for it and practice at Connolly Train Station in Dublin. I had an hour to spare.

My hands were freezing, I felt ridiculous (totally exposed!) but I got through some of the Mozart Sonata, Kinderszenen, and a sweet old Irish lady shyly approached me to thank me.


  • Charles Clark-Maxwell says:

    Paul McCartney once played at Broad St Station in London, as part of the filming of ‘Give my regards to Broad St’ and got surprisingly little attention

  • Trevor says:

    Montero is far from being a top pianist. She has a name and some international presence because of the support of the Maduro opponents

    • Marj says:

      Your opinion, not mine or a lot of other people. She is absolutely a top pianist. But either way, she was playing a Mozart sonata in preparation for a public concert (so at least good enough for that) and almost noone took any notice. Amazing.

    • MacroV says:

      She is a more than capable pianist who, if you see her playing at a Dublin train station and know anything about music, you’d probably say to yourself “that person’s pretty GOOD.”

    • Q.E.D. says:

      Trevor the troll, life must be tough for you trying to prove that the earth is flat. Luckily we have recordings, videos and forty years of public appearances to support Gabriela Montero’s status as not only a top pianist, but improviser and composer, too. Not that she should need it, but people like you need to be put in your place. And we have all the evidence in the world to demonstrate that she, and the entire global community -except Russia, Syria, Iran and Cuba etc – was absolutely right, brave and principled all these years in attempting to shed light – through music and word – on the catastrophic human crisis in Venezuela.

      Montero plays Ravel…

      Montero plays Montero…

    • Saxon Broken says:

      Anybody who has a substantial solo career playing at the major venues is a “top pianist”.

  • Alan says:

    She was great last week in Dublin playing Mozart Piano Concerto No. 20

  • fflambeau says:

    This reminds me of how “cloistered” our great pianists today are. Didn’t S Richter used to hauls his piano all around the USSR and play to all sorts of average people? Those days are long gone.

    • esfir ross says:

      S.Richter played all over Siberia on trains and didn’t shlept his piano. Put up with any piano available in small towns.

  • Lokman says:

    The indifference is astounding.

  • JJC says:

    Whether I am arriving or departing Connolly Station, there is no delight quite like being in the Emerald Island. Sorry I missed you Gabriela…!

  • Mustafa Kandan says:

    If this experiment was done in Central & Eastern Europe the results would have been very different.

  • Better sounding piano than many I’ve heard in top concert halls!

  • Mike Schachter says:

    What can one expect in a country where the top political party is Sinn Fein?

    • V.Lind says:

      Is this coming from a denizen of a country where the top man is Donald Trump?

      And have a heart — the Irish election was only five minutes ago. For the record, Sinn Féin got a few more votes but Fianna Fáil won more seats. And “other parties” got more votes than any of the four major parties and as many seats as FF. (It would be more, except Green is actually viable in Ireland — something no doubt incomprehensible to right wing America).

      Any pianist who is invited to play the concert halls of the world is “top” by the standards of the pianists of the world. But among the former group, I would not put Ms. Montero anywhere near “the top.”

      Surprisingly not long slim fingers!

      • Mike Schachter says:

        I am not from the US, but am British and do not have a favourable perspective on Sinn Fein. But you do have a point, another country politically totally fragmented. There are lots in Europe

      • JJC says:

        And your ‘top man’, Justin Trudeau, in blackface or out, gives your arrogance such credit.

      • SimonJ says:

        When did you hear her in a concert hall?Have you heard what her “surprisingly not long, slim fingers” can do to a piano? I have. In fact I heard her Rachmaninov Sonata No.2 at Princeton a few days ago and her performance sits comfortably in the “top” drawer with the greats, despite being composed by a pianist with huge hands. Oh, and she improvised the entire sound track to a Chaplin movie straight afterwards, and played a breathtaking Schumann Carnival too. You obviously have it in for her, to take time to belittle her, for other reasons. Let me guess…

  • Anonon says:

    Beautiful playing. Shame on the public. Arts mean nothing to most. Sad indeed.

    • Brian v says:

      Many people no absolutely nothing about classical music. They would not appreciate her playing.

      • FrauGeigerin says:

        Most people would only stop to listen if she was playing some crappy of arrangement of film music (John Williams or some other composer of film music).

    • Micaelo Cassetti says:

      Biggest problem in GB (for want of a better term, and thinking of geography rather than politics), is the obsession with pop music. Ten years spent living abroad in two different countries was very refreshing – seeing YOUNG people carrying instruments that weren’t the seemingly obligatory / ubiquitous guitars.

  • Peggy says:

    There are obviously no children here. If I remember correctly, it was the children who were transfixed by Joshua Bell — until their parents dragged them away.

  • Patrick says:

    Proving that it’s not the piano, it’s the pianist.

  • Sir David Geffen-Hall says:

    As in a beautiful painting, the frame is as important as the painting itself.

    But as one passerby was heard saying, “that young lady sounds very good. She should think about being a professional musician.”

  • Ms.Melody says:

    Did she record her own video/audio with her cell phone?

  • geoff says:

    We have a piano in the City Hall here in Ottawa and despite being in Canada, it is nice and warm where the piano is, on the ground floor. Please Gabriela come and practice.

    • Michael Paré says:

      She missed that opportunity when she was here last month to give a remarkable performance with the NACO of the little known Clara Schumann Piano Concerto, written by the then Clara Wieck at the age of 14. Alexander Shelley conducted, and perhaps not coincidentally, his father Howard Shelley recently recorded the concerto for Hyperion as soloist and conductor. Perhaps Ms. Montero can be invited to improvise on the City Hall piano on her next visit.

  • Just sayin' says:

    To the sanctimonious who try to shame us commuter plebs who don’t stop for a recital at the station: Please be realistic. At 8 a.m. on a weekday, people are on the way to work, to the airport, to an appointment. Any seasoned public transit area musician can tell you that a minute or so is the best we can give. “I’m 10 minutes late because a pianist was playing Mozart at the station” won’t cut it with most employers, airlines, or scheduling nurses.
    That’s why we buy tickets to their concerts.

  • CYM says:

    Gabriela played very well on that well-tuned upright piano.
    – I guess the Irish would have preferred to hear a harp, their National Symbol

  • David Richardson says:

    Hi Norman,
    What’s happened to your videos? Only half the image shows, top or bottom. Pressing play shows the other half but the video doesn’t play.
    I’m on a 6th generation iPad with OS 13.3.1
    Best wishes,
    David Richardson

  • Pamela Brown says:

    With all due respect, if she was there to practice, what difference would it make?

  • david davin power says:

    Dublin is so full of virtuoso commuters that the station didn’t bat an eyelid.