In praise of music – A day in the life of The Keyboard Trust
Nicholas Freestone at Temple Church and Umberto Jacopo Laureti at Steinway Hall……two great artists today for the Keyboard Charitable Trust
Two great concerts for the Keyboard Charitable Trust on the same day but in very different venues.
The first on the magnificent organ in the Temple Church by Nicholas Freestone and the second in Steinway Hall with Umberto Jacopo Laureti.
I never thought I would use the word charming for an organist but here it was today in a little piece by John Ireland :Villanella from the Miniature Suite.
There was all the cheeky charm that one usually associates with the great romantic pianists of the past.
The reason being of course that here at the organ today was a real thinking musician totally in command of the instrument and able to find and use to the advantage of the music all the vast range of colours that this organ could provide.
From the great March on a theme of Handel by Alexandre Guilamt in which the nobility and grandure immediately announced the credentials of this young Organ Scholar at St Paul’s Cathedral.
Nicholas Freestone graduate of Oxford holding an Organ Scholarship at Worcester College where he was resonsible for the running of the chapel music .He later went on to be Organ Scholar at St Albans Cathedral training and accompanying the choirs as well as being their principal organist .
At his young age he is a complete musician a Kappellmeister in the great tradition of the past and lent to the music an authority and sense of style and direction that was quite absorbing from the first to the last note.
Herbert Howells Master Tallis’s Testament almost whispered after the tumultuous sounds at the end of the Handel March by Guilmant.
Frank Bridge Adagio in E where his subtle use of the stops gave such a great sense of colour but never forsaking the sense of line .
The great Carillon de Westminster by Louis Vierne that concluded this all too short recital were allowed to ring out around this ancient church of the Knights Templar in the heart of London
It was nice to see John Leech the founding father of the KCT present in these august surroundings and missing only Sir Geoffrey Nice his lifelong friend and instigator of this new branch of activity for the Trust . As one of his illustrious colleagues pointed out without doubt taken up with the events of the day in his very busy schedule
The second appointment of this busy day for the KCT was with Umberto Jacopo Laureti an equally remarkable musician from the school of Benedetto Lupo in Rome and Ian Fountain in London.
Noretta Conci-Leech the founder of the KCT sharing this day with her husband .
I had heard him play in a concert by the students of Benedetto Lupo’s class at the Accademia di S.Cecilia in Rome.
All the Scriabin sonatas played by some of the very talented young musicians that flock to study with him in Rome.
A remarkable array of talent that included Beatrice Rana,Oxana Shevshenko, Ben Cruchley and Umberto Jacopo Laureti.
So it was very interesting to be able to hear a complete programme today that ranged from Schubert to Busoni. Now studying for a PhD with a research programme on Busoni it was hardly surprising to find an important work of Busoni as a finale to a recital that had shown off the intelligent musicianship that had been apparent from the very first opening chords of Schubert’s great C minor Sonata D.985.
From the very first notes there was an energy and inner propulsion that he maintained for the next thirty minutes .
From the great Beethovenian opening played with great passion dissolving into the beautiful second subject played with just the right flexibility that allowed Schubert`s sublime melodic invention to cast it`s spell.
The same spell that was to be cast in the Adagio with just the perfect mix of shape and character that allowed the sublime invention in Schubert`s last year to speak so naturally .
The Minuetto perfectly judged to contrast with the tarantella like Allegro.
Schubert spinning his magic in this young man`s hands .
The magical melodic interruptions never halting the infectious forward movement.
I wonder why Umberto chose to play the opening bass of the Chopin Barcarolle with two hands?
A poetic reading where the melodic invention was played with a beauty of tone that was never allowed to become percussive.
Always expressive this great long song was allowed the space and time to breathe so naturally.
The arrival in paradise (in Perlemuters own words) was played with an exquisite completely natural cantabile.
The final page,so much admired by Ravel, played in such a fluid manner and the last chords played without emphasis as the end of this great melodic outpouring of the already gravely ill Chopin on his ill fated soggiorn with Georges Sand on Majorca.
A contemporary piece of a friend “Song for him” was just the right contrast for the Busoni Toccata.
A piece I well remember Serkin playing in London together with the Reger variations and op.111.
It is nice to see being rediscovered by this fine young musician delving into the output of Busoni.A real reincarnation of Franz Liszt in his anticipation of the direction that music might take.
Some remarkable sounds and use of pedal effects in the De Angelis “Song for him” as was the sparseness of pedal in the Busoni .
A true musician ,the second in the same day that only goes to confirm the very roots on which the KCT was born.
A little piece of childrens slumbers from Schumann`s Kinderscenen was just the ideal encore at the end of a long day dedicated to real music making.