It’s been almost 18 years since the biographical, Acadamy Award-winning movie Shine catapulted David Helfgott to world fame as a concert pianist. It was the quest to master Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 3 in D Minor that drove much of the film. Now Helfgott brings ‘The Rach 3’ to the Sydney Opera House, accompanied by the acclaimed pianist Rhodri Clarke.
The piece is widely known for its technical demands yet that isn’t the main attraction claims Helfgott’s wife, Gillian. “David has a very romantic soul and loves beautiful things,” she says, “and The Rach 3 is such sumptuously romantic, melodic music.”
Hearing Helfgott perform, one is struck with the joyous freedom of his playing. From the moment he runs to the piano he is emotionally entwined – as are the audience – with his delightfully eccentric personality.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the film that started it all holds a special affection. “Oh, when David sees it he laughs and he cries – and so do I. It’s changed our lives in so many ways,” says Gillian. “It gave David a sense of sharing his story and lifting the load off him. Sharing the pain he had with his father enabled him to have a good mental relationship with his memories. He’s been an inspiration to so many people who have been in mental wildernesses.” (GW)
Aug 16, Sydney Opera House, Concert Hall, Bennelong Point, $39-89, (02) 9250 7777, sydneyoperahouse.com