Konstantin Lifschitz’s Piano


LSO St Luke’s London

Went with Steve last week to LSO St Luke’s which used to be a fucked up derelict Hawksmoor church by Old Street. Now it’s very nice, like a yuppie’s loft (but tasteful), all exposed brick and wood and double height ceilings. The concert was great. I wanted to go because I’m really common and Lifschitz was playing Bach’s ‘Goldberg’ Variations as made famous in The Silence of the Lambs. As far as I remember (and being lazy as well as common I can’t be bothered to check) in the film you just get to hear it playing when Hannibal is being held in the makeshift jail in Baltimore (?) and the unfortunate guard detail bring him his dinner. Hannibal has been playing it on his little cassette player and it continues through the scene. In the book (as far as I remember) it’s one of his requests when they’re negotiating for his help in finding the Senator’s kidnapped daughter. He asks for one (of the two) Glenn Gould recordings and specifiies which one. I really can’t remember which one it is, the earlier one or the later, but since the book came out that particular recording now outsells the other 5 to 1!* Sony marketing executives refer to this as the ‘Hannibal Effect’ – when one particular recording of the same piece of music by the same musician outsells another based on the fictional recommendation of a fictional character.

Lifschitz was great – dark and dressed in some weird black smock he seemed to have some kind of facial twitch despite being only 29 or 30 (he was born in 1976). As for the performance of the music I thought it was really fine (but what do I know). Over the years I’ve acquired two recordings of ‘Goldberg’; the Gould (which is very short as he doesn’t play any of the repeats) and one on Harpsichord by Pierre Hantai (which is really fucking majestic and I’ve just put it on).

* Regular readers will know that this is (obviously) a ‘fact’ that I just made up.

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