Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper

Fairlight Hall, courtesy Antony Mair

Frozen out at Fairlight Hall

The thing about summer in the UK is that we’ve all got this idealised picture of balmy afternoons and evenings, strawberries and cream, cricket matches in the heat etc. – whereas the truth is very different.  People moan about climate change but I have distinct recollections of watching opera in country house venues years ago with the rain lashing down on the marquee – even one occasion at Glyndebourne when everyone was picnicking on the covered walkways like stranded refugees in dinner jackets, writes Antony Mair.

You’d think, therefore, that when we booked for a concert at Fairlight Hall, just outside Hastings, we would have been sensible enough to equip ourselves with several layers of clothing, not to mention shawls and overcoats.  However, we’d been working in sunshine in the back garden and toddled along to Fairlight in our innocence, lightly clad, to hear a recital by the wonderful Tae-Hyung Kim.

Fairlight Hall piano recital courtesy Antony Mair

Fairlight Hall is a Victorian pile owned by David and Sarah Kowitz, who are generous patrons of the arts.  They have converted a stable block into a concert room, the entire side of which opens out, by means of a sequence of folding doors, onto a courtyard.  Four giant umbrellas protect those sitting in the courtyard from the rain, but not, alas, from the wind and cold.  We realised our mistake at the outset, when we saw others dressed as if for the lower slopes of Everest, but hoped that we could cope.

Tae-Hyung Kim is a superb pianist, who won the Hastings International Piano Concerto Competition a few months ago.  In the first part of the concert he played two arabesques by Debussy, a piece by Satie, three brief sonatas by Scarlatti and extracts from Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet.  His playing is wonderfully expressive and he discharges the bravura pieces from Scarlatti with extraordinary lightness of touch.  The Debussy was a marvel of tenderness and sensitivity.

But alas, while he played the wind howled in the trees of the neighbouring park and whistled round our courtyard.  In the interval we decided that we had to incur the penalty of our foolishness and miss the second half, rather than risk colds.  Next time we shall try to remember the truth about English summers rather than the idealised memory!

Republished from Postcards from Hastings with the kind consent of Antony Mair.


Posted 09:44 Sunday, Jun 16, 2013 In: Music & Sound

1 Comment

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  1. janet l.lyon

    your article sounds as if you are blaming the kowitz,s for the weather – Editor – We would not blame King Canute either!

    Comment by janet l.lyon — Tuesday, Jun 18, 2013 @ 20:26

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