Ein Phänomen (A PHENOMENON)

04.16.18
Kit Armstrong
Süddeutsche Zeitung

Harald Eggebrecht

Translated from German

"Kit Armstrong, the amazement-causing artist who can only be described as a musical phenomenon, offered an enlightening evening at Munich's Prinzregententheater: Works of major keyboard art from late Renaissance to early Baroque, Byrd, Bull, Sweelinck, followed after intermission by Bach's Goldberg Variations. Now, Armstrong did not turn this into an eminently learned musicological lecture, but brought out the musical vitality, virtuoso joy of playing and refinement of the compositions of Byrd, Bull, and Sweelinck, in so convincing and lucid fashion that not even the concept of an historically 'correct' instrument came to mind. Clear phrasing, precise exposition of voices, transparent sound and dynamic discipline, combined with great inventiveness: This performance - in spite of the artist's humble manners and complete absence of instrumental clowneries - was a demonstration of pianistic abilities that are simply unheard of. Kit Armstrong, born in 1992, then played the Goldberg Variations without any artifical effects and it was precisely this what created an incredible wealth of pianistic and compositional magic arising out of Bach's variational fantasy, with Armstrong truly as his prophet. Riveting in each minute detail was the way in which he promenaded through the first variations, then increased the tension until escalating the cycle as of variation no. 16, before letting the concluding aria fade out as a tender swan song. The audience's ovations provoked two wonderful encores, an introvert Bull, followed by a pianistically triumphant William Byrd."