Solo recital, Piano Festival Northwest, Portland, Oregon June 2000
Pianist deftly navigates shoals of unfamiliarity
…an enthralling performance.
Norris devoted the first half of the program to two sets of Capriccios by Robert Walker. Composed in the early 1980s, the free-form miniatures display impressionistic colors and gestures, lyrical phrases in sometimes wayward harmonies and imaginative, ever-changing rhythms – imagine the etudes of Debussy reworked by a committee including Amy Beach, Dmitri Shostakovich and Thelonius Monk. Walker wrote the pieces for Norris, who played them with easy virtuosity.
The second half was given over to Arnold Bax’s Sonata No. 2, a work that Rachmaninoff proclaimed to be the greatest sonata since the time of Liszt. From the initial chords rising out of low thunder in the bass, the piece seemd to progress organically in Norris’s hands.
With deft transitions through the music’s conflicting moods, he alternated from enormous strength, particularly in the huge, brooding left-hand part, to utter serenity.
This was piano playing of a high order, as thoughtful as it was musical. David Owen Norris should not be missed when he comes round again.
Constant Lambert First Piano Concerto
BBC Concert Orchestra, Barry Wordsworth
‘David Owen Norris dazzles in the teenage composer’s Piano Concerto.
… does full justice to the glittering solo part (his soft tone is ravishing in its pearly opalescence). Vivid, truthfully-balanced recording … Most enjoyable and valuable.’
-Gramophone February 2000
Song Recitals with Philip Langridge
‘An impressively complete artistic statement. Out of the performers’ shared vision came an exceptional synthesis of voice and instrument.’
-Karl Harb Salzburger Nachrichten
‘A duo brilliantly in tune with each other. Only three encores could satisfy the extremely enthusiastic audience.’
-Marcus Vitolo MM
‘At the end of the evening the audience held its breath (before breaking into violent applause) with the memory of having experienced something great.’
-Martin Riegler Salzburger Volkszeitung
Chamber Music and Songs with Jennifer Bates, soprano, Ernst Kovacic, violin, and Raphael Wallfisch, cello – UK Tour, January 2000
“As always, [Norris’s] musical vitality energises all those around him. ….
… an astonishingly vivid performance. Ms. Bates put such passion, such meaning into every word, that I felt I could never forget those lines.
… inspired performance of the Schubert B flat Trio. Suddenly, it was like being at the Schubert Festival at Hohenems, where that particular mixture of conviviality and expertise, without which Schubert performances cannot get off the ground, is in full measure.
Owen Norris’s discreet, yet elegant playing of the many passages in which Schubert lets the piano become the singer, with the strings as accompaniment, reminded me of Serkin’s playing with the Busch Quartet.
What one felt was that all three players were searching out the music for the first time. This, I felt, was one of the finest chamber music performances that I have heard for many years.”
Grieg Piano Concerto, CBSO, Moldoveanu, February 1999
-The Birmingham Post
Mendelssohn Concertos on early instruments with the Handel&Haydn Society in Boston, November 1998
“The star of the show!”
“A live wire, crackling with electricity.”
-Richard Dyer, Boston Globe
Solo recitals, West Coast USA, April 1998
“He can play like a demon possessed, or like a cocktail-lounge pianist on hallucinogens, or like the dreamiest caresser of ivories imaginable. An utterly quirky, highly personalized, strangely brilliant evening of music-making.”
Concertos with the Australian Chamber Orchestra, February 1998
“A performer of outstanding musical and theatrical gifts, as well as formidable intelligence. Defying convention for illumination, his paramount concern was to preserve and enhance the integrity of the music.”
“Norris makes us wonder, what is music for? ….. a saner prescription for today would be the David Owen Norris credo that begins, ‘Ask yourself what you can contribute to the cultural community.’ More than timely, the Norris credo is necessary. Norris has a role – a new role – to play. Will he, and others like him, be allowed to play it?”
Afterword to Joseph Horowitz’s book on Piano Competitions,
-The Ivory Trade