Vital Pisarenko in Padua

What a day in Padua today with the recital by Vitaly Pisarenko at the Circolo di Padua for Agimus and the KCT. After the poetic recital of Luca Buratto in the morning another astonishing performance from Vitaly Pisarenko in the afternoon.
A masterly lesson in control,colour and musicianship. After even more interesting performances of Haydn E minor sonata and Schumann Fantasiestucke than that heard only a week ago in London we were treated to a transcendental performance of the nine Etudes Tableaux op 39 by Rachmaninov. An electric atmosphere created by the beauty of his Schumann ,where already in the coda one could feel that rare atmosphere created when the artist,music and audience become one. Such was the atmosphere created for one of the most beautiful performances of Rachmaninov imaginable. The incredibile control of sound in the second study almost defied belief as the music disolved into a whisper but with a sense of balance that allowed the melodic line to shine above a shimmer of accompaniment. Never has the famous number 5 in E flat minor sounded so noble and desperate. The menace of the “Red Riding Hood” study had us sitting on the edge of our seats . And this was a discerning,aristocratic audience in an exclusive private club totally unused to surrendering itself to this sort of seduction. The transcendental virtuosity of the final study had people on their feet craving for more. After so much insistent applause poor exhausted Vitaly pulled out of thin air a most magical ,yearning early melody by Rachmaninov .A piece,incredibly, he tells me he learnt in two days especially for this concert. I doubt that such magic will be experienced for a long time to come but will live on for many a year in the memory of those lucky enough to have been present today. Lovely to see so many pianists in the audience too … and here seen withLeonora Armellini and her distinguished pianist- teacher mother.


Luca Buratto and the Giants Sala dei Giganti today 17th January 2016

Wonderful sunny day in Padua today for two Sunday recitals by two very remarkable young pianists.
The first in the Sala dei Giganti by Luca Buratto winner of the prestigeous Honens competition in Canada .
The last time I was in this magnigificent hall was with Perlemuter all those years ago when Filippo Juvarra begged me to bring him to Padua after his debut in Italy at the age of 81.We also shared Annie Fischer in the same way- Teatro Ghione,Rome and Sala dei Giganti ,Padua.
Alas neither Perlemuter or Annie Fischer are still with us but Filippo still is and it is thanks to him that we can hear some remarkable young musicians on a Sunday morning in Padua.
Luca ,amazingly similar to his teacher Davide Cabassi who gave so many memorable recitals for us in Rome for a series twinned with that remarkable Academy in Como directed by William Nabore.
The influence on Luca was evident as it was with Davide …..coming from the revolutionary playing of Radu Lupu.
Even the same chair with a back and the extreme exploration of those magical sounds between piano and pianissimo and the true legato that Wilhelm Kempff was searching for in his mature years.
How to reconcile this Eusebius with his twin Floristan of course is always the question and not always easy to resolve.
The magical sounds in Thomas Ades Darkness Visible were beautifully realised thanks also to a very fine Steinway concert grand in Luca’s delicate hands..
The beautiful hand gestures,reminiscent of Rosalyn Tureck ,in Bach’s Capriccio on dearly departed brother led to a finely shaped performance.
If in the Debussy Estampes ,as elsewhere it seemed that Luca’s left foot was happiest on the soft pedal and was always seen hovering rather lost when it was not,there were many magical sounds from this really ultra sensitive musician. It was just missing that sense if rhythmic contrast so important where the impression is already present in the notes especially in Debussy.
Schumann Carnaval remarkable for the lack of sentimentality that we are all to often treated to.
In fact surprisingly masculine Chopin that really for the first time seemed to fit into the structure of the piece.Leading to a superb virtuoso rendering of Paganini.Rarely can it have been given such a secure rendition. Aveu again without a hint of sentimentality led to a strangely angular March of David against the Philistines . In all a very original and in many ways poetic performance where the reconciliation between Florestan and Eusebius was not totally resolved.
A single encore of sheer magic in Schumann’s Davidsbundler n.14 showed us that we were lucky this morning to be in the hands of a real poet- Eusebius in fact, and like Davide Cabassi,Radu Lupu and Kempff , we were in the presence of a real magician trying to convince us that in that big black box of strings and hammers there are so many magical sounds to be found and here was someone on a voyage of discovery intent on finding them. Bon Voyage Maestro Buratto you have found the right path on your voyage of discovery and thank you for sharing it with us this morning.

Lukas Geniusas at St Johns Smith Square ,London.

Great expectations awaited the return to London of Lukas Geniusas,the young Lithuanian ~Russian pianist much admired recently in the Tchaikowsky Competition in Moscow. Supreme control and superb sense of balance that allowed him to make the piano sing in a way that is all too rare these days. The first Brahms sonata that so often is given a heavy orchestral sound was here in the hands of this magician sheer poetry. Rarely have those rather ungrateful chords sounded so beautiful.An orchestra ,yes ,but the Berlin Philharmonic in this pianists hands.So many magical moments but maybe the most sublime was the way he sang the second subject of the first movement In no way was the rythmic energy sacrificed, for this was a full blooded performance reminiscent of a young Wilhelm Kempff. The Beethoven too ,so often thrown off as early Beethoven can be.Full of astonishing contrast but never sacrificing the overall line and impetus ,so much part of Beethoven’s soul. Astonishing sounds too after the interval in 3 Burlesques by Bartok.Here in the hands of this master pianist were the most beguiling pieces that made one wonder why they are not heard more often. I think the answer lies that there are not many pianists after Richter that can rise to the challenges that they pose. Prokofiev 7th sonata came as a bit of an anticlimax with the first movement too fast to really allow the contrasts to tell.The second movement not simple or projected enough.The last movement for its control and unrelenting rhythmic impetus brought the recital to a triumphant end. Unfortunately two Chopin encores in extreme bad taste .A mazurka with the strangest rubato and a “Cat “waltz at such breakneck speed it was more reminiscent of “Kitten on the keys” than the” aristocat” that it could be in the hands of a Rubinstein. Pity to finish on such a note after a recital of some supreme musicianship and trascendental piano playing.

Paris in Perivale

The beautiful 12th century church of St Mary’s in Perivale was the venue for a recital by Vitaly Pisarenko . Seen from a distance this wooden church could almost be in some scandanavian country instead of in the middle of Ealing golf course. It is the venue ,together with the nearby and much larger brother St.Barnabas ,of some extraordinary concerts by some of the most talented young musicians around. Founded by Hugh Mather and his remarkable team they are to celebrate ,this coming week ,their one thousandth concert . This concert by one of the stars of the Keyboard Charitable Trust coincided in New York with a memorial concert for Paris Ionescu,grandson of the founder of the Trust ,cruelly taken from us at only 28 years of age just before Christmas. In New York another of the KCT stars :Bolai Cao was performing . So for us with New York in our hearts it was a doubly poignant occasion. And what an occasion it was! This beautiful little gem full to the rafters for some extraordinary music making by one of the younger generation’s foremost pianists. His reputation from his triumphal television appearances in the Leeds International Piano Competition last september had be watched and admired by a vast audience and so it was with great anticipation that he performed in this exquisite venue to an enthusiastic audience. And the cherry on the cake were indeed the homemade tea and cakes offered to their very attentive audience at the end. Starting with Haydn’s.E minor sonata it was obvious from the first note that here was a most sensitive and intelligent performer. If the slow movement could have been projected more as almost an operatic aria it was more than compensated for by the” joie de vivre” and charm of the final vivace. So many beautiful things in Schumann ‘s Fantasiestucke op 12. From the sublimely whispered Des Abends to the almost Haydnesque impish humour of Traumes Wirren. In all this the extreme.control of dynamics and the sheer beauty of the sonorities found led to a truly memorable account. Too many unforgettable moments in a performance where the music was allowed to speak in a direct and simply way. Warum …..indeed beautifully and delicately projected,and if Grillen could have been allowed to sing more one felt that here was an original musical mind at work .The atmosphere created at the Ende vom Lied was reminiscent of the unforgettable performances of Rubinstein. So having forged his credentials as as a true poet of the piano it came as a thunderbolt the sheer energy and musical virtuosity ,after the interval ,with Chopin ‘s First Scherzo. For me one of the finest performances on record and judging from the cheers of this discerning audience I think there was no doubt in any one’s mind that we were in the presence of a true master. Confirmed by the passionate virtuosity combined with extreme delicacy of the Scriabin Fantasy and Third Sonata that closed the programme. A single encore of a recently found fragment by Rachmaninoff confirmed the intelligence of this remarkable young musician. Graced by the presence of Nina Walker now in her 90th year ,who I well remember in recital with Monserrat Caballe. Enthusiastic, as we all were ,she announced that she would be in the front row for Vitaly’s Rachmaninoff 3rd Piano Concerto at the RCM on the 3rd of February……I think there will be big queue for tickets with the reputation that he is fast gaining. At the end of this memorable concert.a charming note from Bolai Cao in New York to reassure us that he is rehearsing and that all is well. In fact New York ~ London we were united music ………..

Alberto Portugheis 75th Birthday Concert

Alberto Portugheis 75th Birthday concert at .St.James Piccadilly. So many beautiful moments from a life dedicated to beauty and peace. A Mozart Sonata in C K.330 played in what one would now a days call “old style”,but is that such a bad thing if the music is allowed to speak with such a human voice. So many beautiful things in what must be one of the most passionate performances of Schuberts last and perhaps greatest sonata .Maybe exagerated the naked passion exposed by Alberto on this occasion,but as he said afterwards, Schubert knew that he was dying and would you too not have moments of sublime serenity mixed with anguished rebellion. Not a moment of boredom or indifference in this performance .All the more remarkable when you consider the enormous scope of this, one of the real ” Romantic” men of yesteryear. Enough to think that Alberto Portugheis was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2008 for his Peace work and proposals .All the more remarkable when you remember that as a young man ,great friend of Martha Argerich,he won first prize at the Geneva Concours de Virtuosite’. Birds of a feather indeed not only for their remarkable music but above all for their great humanity.