John Ogdon: Views?
Not that familiar with the work of this nearly forgotten (?) British pianist.
Any views on his best recordings?
Not forgotten by me - though I've just checked and I don't have any recordings. I suppose I remember him from the days when music was frequently on television - and also for the more sensational biographical details of his later years.
Originally Posted by Mandryka
Certainly a great pianist though - wasn't he? And part of that PMD, Birtwistle, Goehr generation, which got music 'moving' in the early 60s.
I remember him for great live performances but strangely do not have any of his records.
You both make good points about recordings - Ogdon's in print catalogue is tiny compared to that of some of his contemporaries. There is a (supposedly quite comprehensive) EMI anthology currently available, though.
I seem to recall the Penguin Guide tearing into a few of his recordings - notably, a Grieg/Schumann coupling that they gave only one star to. Then there was a long gap after his 1973 breakdown and when he did return to performing, he was supposedly rather erratic. Didn't he record a lot of Rachmaninov in his later career? I've heard those recordings are a bit 'Helfgottish'.
Iremember how he made 'Islamay' seem easy and his recording of the Busoni Piano Concerto. I saw him once in Oxford Street, unmistakable with his jutting black beard, clearing a path through the crowds with arms outstretched. A flawed genius, in some ways.
I saw him play the Grieg in the RFH with Previn/LSO around 1971. Curiously he was standing in for an indisposed Gina Bachauer, I reckon we did rather well. I sat in the choir seats for a performance of Beethoven 4 with Halle/Loughran in 1972; the concert began with Lohengrin Act 3 Prelude and ended with Bruckner 7 - a truly thrilling concert, I was just behind the trumpets and trombones
Quite a good Wiki biog - apparently he was played by Alfred Molina in a BBC film which I didn't see, but later images reminiscent of Richard Griffiths
I am afraid the only recording of John Ogdon I have is of Sir Michael Tippett's Piano Concerto with Colin Davis though I play Martino Tirimo's version with the composer more often as it sings more for my ears.
Having said that I enjoyed hearing him on several occasions. He was quite large, as was his wife, Brenda Lucas and I remember a very crowded stage at a prom where we had two Ogdons, two Steinways and Sir Charles Groves which left little room for the orchestra. Also, for the wrong reasons again, I recall JO and Colin Davis giving Beethoven's Emperor at the Proms. Someone forgot to screw the brakes on the Steinway which was fine until the finale when the piano continuously trundled into the cello section who slid back as JO slid forward until half way through the back row of cellos were regathered before Sir Colin. Suddenly, cellist Sidney Denbin had the nous to get up and screw the wheels tight. When JO and CD came back onto the stage for their bows JO took hold of Sid (as we called him) and brought him forward for a special bow.
I also hear JO play Liszt's transcriptions of Beethoven (I think it was Fifth Symphony) and Berlioz Symphony Fantastique at the Victoria and Albert Museum. The latter was stupendous playing.
He always seemed a larger-than-life avuncular fellow-well-met kind of man. Most of us were largely unaware of the demons at work during his short sad career.
I could never forget that film. Alfred Molina gave a remarkable performance as JO. Either towards the end of the film or immediately afterwards there was a section where JO and Brenda Lucas were filmed in the Ogdon's drawing room (or perhaps I should say 'Brenda Lucas's drawing room') and it was apparent just how well AM had captured JO.
Originally Posted by Richard Tarleton
Brenda Lucas wasn't portrayed very sympathetically in the film (she was interviewed immediately after the broadcast).
It is a great pity that the film isn't available on DVD.