The “prince of romance” hasn’t lost his touch.
At 64, French pianist Richard Clayderman is the consummate entertainer and continues to seduce listeners into a romantic spell.
We love him so much that we keep inviting him to perform on our shores. After 17 times, he still hasn’t gotten tired!
Last week, once again, the Frenchman took centre stage at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre’s Plenary Hall in conjunction with his 40th Anniversary World Tour.
Organised by Starline Productions and sponsored by Yamaha, the one-night performance saw a slightly-stooped Clayderman, deliver more than what his fans had anticipated. Almost every age group had something they recognised.
For almost two hours, he gave a dose of his popular tunes, a slice of the music from Hollywood blockbusters, a bit of the 1970s (Mamas & Papas, Elton John, 10CC, etc), a Chinese number and peppered his playlist with some jazz hits and plenty of light-hearted moments in between pieces.
Sappy to some, corny to others and tragedy to the classical pianists, Clayderman has defied critics and is acknowledged by Guinness World Of Records as the most successful pianist in the world, having sold 150 million records.
He has recorded over 1,200 melodies and is known for creating a new romantic style combining pop with classical music.
In China, his music has even been played to defuse tension in court during litigations.
The audience clapped politely after each piece and gave a slightly more spirited applause after he played tunes they recognised, from Chariots Of Fire and Ballade Pour Adeline to Nostalgy and La La Land.
To enhance the performance and put us in the right mood, an ensemble comprising 12 local string talents accompanied the star.
For most of the night, there was also a video projection of scenes, places, movies and people, as he played.
While he has a number of own compositions, part of his talent lies in presenting rearrangements of other composer’s tunes.
Titanic Symphony was an example of this. Clayderman was lost in sea as he swept his fingers effortlessly over the keys to bring life to James Horner’s composition.
However, when he opened his mouth to address the audience, I was horrified. The way his nimble fingers tinkled on the ivory keys and the way he speaks are polar opposites.
Heavily French-accented, it is hardly romantic, soft and quite high-pitched. Spine-chilling perhaps and there were gasps all around.
Never judge anyone by the pitch of his voice.
For someone who was born, raised and lives in Paris, the city of love holds a special place in his heart. Clayderman played a medley of French tunes and together with the lighting and video projections of popular sites, succeeded in capturing the spirit of the city.
My personal favourite was when Clayderman played Dave Brubeck’s Blue Rondo a La Turque.
His gilded fingers made the piano tear up with emotions, transforming from intense to joy in mere seconds.
As he has admitted many times in many interviews, Clayderman loves jazz music.
In his trademark style, he gave away music sheets every time he completed a song. As the night wore on, more children were running up to get these and the generous entertainer, not wanting to disappoint anyone, started tearing out his notes so no one walked away empty handed.
When there was nothing left to give, Clayderman hilariously picked up his piano stool and offered it.
For the encore, he wrapped up the night with a high-energy jive number sans the piano stool (no takers, though).
So, instead of leaving in a dreamy state, the audience walked out with a beat in their steps, probably awaiting the prince’s next gig.
And who knows, he might return as the king of romance.