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  • Writer's pictureCaroline K. Mackenzie

Chopin and Champagne: Warren Mailley-Smith at the 1901 Arts Club. A Winning Combination.

1901 Arts Club performance space © Caroline Mackenzie

In 2016 Warren Mailley-Smith became the first British pianist to perform Chopin's complete solo piano works from memory in an unforgettable series of eleven recitals at the fabulous St John's Smith Square, London. In 2018-2019 he has teamed up with the 1901 Arts Club, an exquisite venue, to perform Chopin's piano solos again, this time in a series of ten programmes which he has compiled with care to ensure that each performance showcases the varied and brilliant repertoire of Chopin's work.

Originally an old schoolmaster's house at 7 Exton Street, the 1901 Arts Club was acquired and restored in the style of a European Salon as a philanthropic venture by conductor and violinist Joji Hattori. On arrival, we received a very warm welcome from Glenn and his colleagues and it felt as if we were arriving for a private recital in an individual's beautiful London residence.

The intimacy and high style of the venue make it a perfect stage for Warren Mailley-Smith's rare combination of virtuosity and relaxed, modest demeanour. Chatting informally to the enraptured audience between pieces, his anecdotes included details of Chopin's extraordinary life (whose first and last works were both Mazurkas, composed when he was aged 7 and 39 respectively) as well as insights into the techniques of playing such intricate compositions. As for the performance itself, Warren's outstanding playing was described by fellow members of the audience as 'mesmerising', 'inspirational' and that 'it transported me to another place'.

There are two more recitals in the series, on Friday 21 June and Friday 12 July. There are pre- and post-dinner performances, each with a champagne reception. For tickets (which are likely to be sold out soon) and more information, see the 1901 Arts Club website. To read more about Warren and to purchase CDs of his recordings, which have been featured by Classic FM as CD of the Week, see Warren Mailley-Smith's website.

1901 Arts Club © Caroline Mackenzie

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