LETTER RE DAVID HELFGOTT's SYDNEY BIRTHDAY RECITAL | 19 May 2018
DAVID HELFGOTT AN IMPRESSION
By Louise Keller
He bounds on stage like an excited child: chatting incessantly to himself. Or could it be to the higher beings above? He wears a turquoise satin shirt a Cossack dancer might wear. Its sheen reflects his enthusiasm. He cups his hands on his forehead to see his audience beyond the glare of the spotlight. Thumbs up. More thumbs up. He grins, exuding sheer joy. Then he sits at the Steinway and begins to play.
Chopin, Liszt, Mussorgsky. The magic begins as his lithe fingers traverse and caress the keyboard. We are instantly transported. But watching David Helfgott and listening to him are two different things.
Eyes open, we see a man who embraces not only the music, but the audience. He chatters nonstop, incorporates his version of singing along with the music. He is clearly having the time of his life. He sits upright. Then his back is hunched as he leans over, his face almost touching the keys. His exuberant face turns to the audience, the crinkles around his expressive eyes exaggerated as he somehow interacts with them intimately. An invisible lasso shepherds the audience into his world. His unique world. Visually, the scene is extraordinary. It almost overshadows the music. Almost.
Eyes closed, the impact of the light and shade of the music is a powerful force as, impossible cadences and finger gymnastics, a dazzling feat.
At the end of each musical piece, he jumps to his feet, grins broadly and bows hyperactively as he effusively thanks his audience. Thumbs up again. He does not speak between pieces. Not in the normal accepted sense. But there is no shortage of communication, albeit the language is somewhat different.
There is such generosity of spirit and emotion on display. Everyone in the audience senses it. You can hear a pin drop. Men wearing suits, jeans and tattoos; ladies in stilettos, boots and sneakers; wide-eyed youngsters. We are hypnotized by the Helfgott spell. It is an indescribably powerful thing. Time stops. No wonder he is beloved around the world with a sold out concert schedule throughout Europe and beyond.
Two hours later, after a standing ovation, streamers, flowers and encores, wife Gillian comes on stage. They hug unselfconsciously. She says how happy David is playing his music and thanks the audience for making him so happy on this special night: his 71st birthday. The simplicity and genuine nature of the sentiment is overtly moving. I feel the prickle of tears welling in my eyes; the natural release of emotion. I have witnessed a miracle.
To say that David Helfgott is unique is stating the obvious. Is this what a genius looks like? An extraordinarily, talented human being who makes everyone around him look and feel ordinary.
Backstage? His warmth and love fill the room. He takes my hands, holds them, admires my nails, hugs me, nuzzles my face, bestows kisses with great generosity. Yes, he is going back to Budapest for a concert ÃfÂ¢Ã¢'Â¬" he mutters greetings in Hungarian. Vienna? He switches to German. Then the banter is English and Helfgott speaks without taking a breath. All at a million miles an hour.
And then he is gone. The room suddenly becomes dull. As though a light has been switched off. Like the night sky when the brightest star has been extinguished.
David Helfgottâ s recital was held on Saturday May 19, 2018 at Sydneyâ s City Recital Hall in Angel Place.
EXPERIENCE OF 12 YEAR OLD AT HELFGOTT RECITAL 28 APRIL 2018 | 29 April 2018
Hi David, my name is Jade and I am a 14 year old pianist. I have been playing piano for about 7 years (this being my eighth) and I went to your show last night (on the 28th of April). You have truly inspired me. I watched the movie Shine before I went to the concert and your story is so amazing. To see how you got to where you are now and all the trouble that you went through... I was honestly crying through half of it. After that, I was even more excited to watch you play live. This was my first piano recital that I have ever been too and it was an experience I will never forget. Usually, I am used to playing in small school concerts so it was incredibly refreshing to watch someone else play. Like really play. Especially someone of your calibre. Your recital was astonishing. It blew me away and I don"t t think I have any words to describe how magical it was. To be perfectly honest, I don't typically listen to a lot of classical music, though I know I should, but after watching you perform, I am determined to listen to more. Your performance transported me to another world. I was sitting on the front row in the high stands right in the centre and i got the best view in my opinion. I was bewildered by how relaxed you looked on stage and I felt the joy and happiness you gave off to the audience every time you bowed. I found it relaxing how you mumbled to yourself during the performance and how you talked about the song and the dynamics. How you sang along with the melody and counted out loud for some parts. I have always been determined to learn flight of the bumblebee at some stage in my life and when you came out for the encore and played it flawlessly? I was lost for words. It was pure and utter magic. I thought it was sweet how you shook the front rows hands and though I knew we had great seats, at that moment I was in envy of that row. I couldn't stop smiling the entire night as I relived the memories and I can't wait to tell all my friends about how I saw one of the best pianists in the world play live. You have inspired me to become a better pianist, to appreciate everything I am given and how lucky I am.
I wish you and your wife the very best in your lives and hope you have wonderful years to come!
PARIS BOOKINGS FOR 27 OCTOBER NOW OPEN | 13 February 2018
Exciting news that David Helfgott is returning to Paris to perform the Rachmaninov Third Piano Concerto for duo pianos with Rhodri Clarke at the fabulous theatre La Seine Musicale. This is a very exciting duo concerto and do hope you will join them on this occasion.
ACADEMY AWARD WINNING ACTOR GEOFFREY RUSH - IN ADMIRATION | 1 DECEMBER 2017
There have been allegations in the Australian newspapers about "inappropiate behaviour" by Geoffrey Rush and below are our thoughts.
David and I are appalled at the Sydney Theatre Company's handling of an inappropriate behaviour complaint made about Geoffrey Rush. His accuser remains nameless and the STC refuses to elaborate as to what the complaint contains to him or his lawyers.
If we allow the denigration of people's characters to occur without any facts being presented, one fears for the future of our nation. Let us hold to our law of innocent until proven guilty.
David and I reaffirm our great admiration of Geoffrey's integrity and dedication to his craft, and our boundless gratitude to him for his sensitive and brilliant portrayal of David in Shine. His empathy towards David since 1990 has never wavered.
HELLO I AM DAVID | WORLD WIDE ON NETFLIX NOW
David Helfgott returns to screens on NETFLIX with HELLO I AM DAVID, a very moving film of his life on concert tour with the Rachmaninov Third Piano concerto.
This is a very touching, funny and uplifting film and a wonderfully sincere portrait of the pianist and catches his irresistible personality and his music. Not to be missed.
Check his tour schedule for performances in Europe and UK in 2017 of this wonderful concerto on duo pianos where the full beauty of the piano score shines through.
HEFGOTT'S FINEST PLAYING | 16 November 2013
HELFGOTT TRIUMPHS AT CHATSWOOD CONCERT HALL, SYDNEY
David Helfgott's performance on Friday 15 November, at the beautiful Concourse Concert Hall was a musical triumph. To the largest audience ever in the venue, his playing electrified those attending and the resulting applause and cheering did justice to the extraordinary performance.
Audience members said they had never experienced such passionate playing and adulation before at a classical concert.
A REVIEW FROM SOUTH AFRICA | 9 October 2013
I just wanted to write and let you know that we were honoured to be a part of the audience at David's Johannesburg concert. Over the years I have seen many of the world's greatest artists - but this was simply the most memorable, haunting and hypnotic performance I have ever witnessed. Just one man and a piano. David seems to be able to pull those bottom notes from the centre of the earth - and fill the room with a cascade of notes like an endless waterfall. Never before have I seen or heard those pieces played with so much individuality and passion. We were seated in row D - so very close, and indeed privileged to see firsthand, this amazing relationship!
I just wanted you to know - and to please thank David from us for sharing his unique talent one more time here in South Africa.
Best to you both always,