Where shall we start? We could perhaps begin by saying that John Lill has given over 6,000 concerts in a very long and distinguished career, or maybe (and I quote) “I’m 74 now so I’m cutting back a bit these days, and I’m only going to tour Japan, China and Australia in the next few months…” That’s an interesting take on ‘cutting back’. Whichever way you look at it, John Lill remains one of the most eminent and remarkable pianists roaming the planet. The wine is vintage indeed.
His most recent recital for the Marlborough College Concert Series was enthralling, and he is clearly at home on the College’s precious Steinway in which his advice was sought for it to be adjusted and prepared to suit the acoustics of the Hall. In essence then, our piano has been well and truly ‘Lilled’. “I’ve never had my name used as a verb before, but I rather like it” was his response.
To single out highlights from his programme of Beethoven, Prokofiev, Schumann and Chopin is tricky, but you would have to go a long way to find a better performance of Prokofiev’s daunting Sixth Sonata in which Lill’s consummate technique and total mastery shone bright. In mentioning the acoustics of the hall as he left, he commented ‘it’s perfect’. From someone of his stature that’s high praise indeed. He’s pretty perfect too ….