Inspiration for those who love to play, or wish to play, or simply to listen in awe comes with the All About Piano! three-day festival at the French Institute, where in intimate surroundings some of the best pianists on the planet congregate to give concerts, masterclasses and encouragement.
Among the big names are Barry Douglas – whose recent performances of the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No 1 at the Barbican was one of the finest I have ever heard – Melvyn Tan, Marcela Roggeri and François Chaplin, and the delightful Piano Brothers (alias Dominic Anthony Ferris and Elwin Hendrijanto), who play everything from arrangements of Adele and Muse to their own composition about piano-makers Steinway, The Making of a Model B (2 April).
Now in its fifth year, the piano festival is remarkable not only for its top artists, but also for bargain prices which makes it easy to plump for several concerts, including a couple of blind dates. Not sure whether Saint-Saëns, Ravel and Debussy are your thing? Well, at £12 a pop there's no harm in finding out (and so discovering some of the most translucent, liquid music in the repertoire). Roggeri and Chaplin's concert (2 April, 5.30), entitled Paris, Crazy Paris!, is packed with picturesque short pieces by these composers.
Melvyn Tan opens the weekend (31 Mar, 7.30pm) with works by Beethoven, Liszt and Jonathan Dove, and later that evening Yaron Herman improvises jazz. Tan also gives a masterclass on 1 April, and on the same Saturday morning, a charming event for under-threes, Baby Tales, is conducted in simple French by Anna Orford (storyteller) and Gabriela Georgieva (piano).
Barry Douglas's programme of Schubert, Brahms, Tchaikovsky is also on 1 April (9pm). Don't miss this amazing artist, winner of the Tchaikovsky piano competition in his 20s. And there are many more events. Click here to see the full programme.
For cinema buffs there is a real treat: a season of Buster Keaton shorts (2 April, 11am), with live piano accompaniment by John Sweeney. There is also an art exhibition throughout the weekend, inspired by the piano.
It's all enough to make you start those five-finger exercises all over again.
|What||All About Piano!, French Institute|
|Where||French Institute, 17 Queensberry Place, London, SW12 2DT | MAP|
|Nearest tube||South Kensington (underground)|
31 Mar 17 – 02 Apr 17, 22 events throughout the day. Times vary
|Price||£0 - £12|
|Website||Click here for more information and booking|