Sunday, April 27, 2008

David Scheel

I booked to see David Scheel on Friday, and my wife and I went to see him perform tonight at the Fortune Theatre. He'd been dubbed the 'next Victor Borge', which sounded promising, and the idea of someone playing Bach in one hand while playing Lloyd Webber in the other appealed.
Alas, Mr Scheel was either not on his mettle tonight, or else isn't anywhere near as good as claimed.
The jokes were okay, but some of them have been around a long time and some of them took a long time in the telling, and yes, he played Bach and Lloyd Webber in separate hands within the same piece, but not simultaneously, as far as my ears could tell. There's no doubt he can play if he wants, but in fact he fudged a good deal of his playing tonight, and seemed out of practice in terms of actual sharp on the spot playing. Often he'd whiz through pieces as though he was in some sort of hurry - or perhaps he's just played them far too many times.
Perhaps he wasn't well: he kept wiping his eyes with a large white handkerchief.
Victor Borge eventually became the victim of his own routines: he'd played them all so many times that there was no sparkle or life left. When I first saw him, as a child, he was superb. When I came across him again many years later, a lot of the light had gone.
This seems to me to be the problem with an artist who lets his routine become stale. Borge's humour was way out in left field when it first arrived, but there seemed to be a limited amount of it. Perhaps he grew disgusted at wasting his talent.
Scheel isn't Borge - he hasn't the fire and the dash and the energy that distinguished Borge. He can be funny, even on the piano, but too often resorts to lifting his eyebrows when he's given the 'funny' line, as though to indicate to the audience: now is the time to laugh. Fortunately he had an audience who laughed quite a lot, so my glum feelings about him certainly don't matter.
I was just a bit niggled at being presented with something that was only just above the amateur level.
Anyway, he won't be worried: he has a hectic concert tour ahead of him and plenty of concerts behind. He's obviously making plenty of money out of his talents. But even my wife noticed the lumpy piano-playing, and that's not a good sign.

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