Aleksandar Pavlović at the Royal Albert Hall
Nice to be back in the Elgar Room again where the Royal College of Music have been giving concerts since 1884!
Mr Barton played the Chopin third Ballade in that very first concert and it was indeed Chopin that struck gold today too.
Students or I should say young artists from the Royal College now have the opportunity to play to a sold out audience on Sunday mornings in what is billed as “Classical Coffee Morning “.
A full house today where obviously many had come for the coffee and cakes on offer in these very august settings together with an hour of music.
Little were they expecting to hear such impressive performances such as we were treated to today.
I doubt anyone would have dared lift their cup whilst they were listening to the young Serbian graduate from the class of that very distinguished trainer of real musicians Norma Fisher
And it was indeed in the middle section of the Chopin Polonaise Fantasie that his aristocratic and mature understanding became truly enthralling.
Having seen Aleksandar recently in an archive film shown before the Rome International Piano Competition now in its 25th year .
A young boy of 12, winner of the Junior Section of this relatively unknown competition which Marcella Crudeli with her intrepid resilience and enthusiasm matched only by that of Carola Grindea combined with EPTA to give the stage not only to mature artists but also to those youngsters with major talent as we have seen today.
Having heard Aleksandar Pavlović in this very hall two years ago I was immediately struck by his great musicality and sensitivity but also felt it missed the architectural solidity and control that a mature artist must acquire.
Hats off to Norma Fisher for giving him the time to study under her expert guidance and mature into the artist that was before us today .
Norma Fisher herself ,as our mutual “piano daddy”Sidney Harrison had done for her as a school girl, has allowed the freedom for the talent to develop naturally but with great patience to point the direction and convince (not always easy with such talent) him to listen to himself and acquire his own musical taste and personality.
It is no coincidence that at the Chopin Society later this afternoon another of Sidney Harrisons students Ian Hobson is playing.
We were teenagers together studying in Chiswick ,as Norma before us, with the first man to give piano lessons on the television at a time when one looked into that brown box in the corner of a few privileged homes .
Ian Hobson from a talented youth from Coventry ,thanks to that same very careful training, has since gone on to win the Leeds International Piano Competition and create an important career in America as Professor,Pianist and Conductor.
Many of the public told me afterwards today of how they had noted my concentration on Pavolvic’s performances and I explained that it was so involving that I and I am sure many others present had found a cup of cold coffee untouched at the end of his astounding performance of the Scriabin Fantasie that finished this all too short programme.
Twice in this Elgar room but next time for a sure we will be applauding in the 6000 seat hall next door known as the Town Hall of London.
The Royal Albert Hall that thankfully no bomb or demolition squad has had in its sights. What better memorial could a loving wife leave her adored husband.
United forever in this unique space .
Not an easy task to present yourself at 11 am impeccably dressed in a dinner jacket and to sit down in front of a full hall and be confronted with a bright red Yamaha grand piano.
The piano donated to the Elgar Room by Markson Pianos was in fact used by Elton John on his Big Red Piano Tour.
Starting also with one of Beethoven’s most allusive openings to be played ” with innermost sensibility” .
Hats off to this young artist ,still only 24, that he could create the atmosphere immediately.
The hands caressing the keys and allowing the melody to evolve almost as a great lieder singer might have done.
Some exquisite phrasing and very delicate use of the sustaining pedal gave a very liquid un percussive sound to this great song like opening.
Hinted at in the previous little sonata op 90 but now fully born in the first of the last five great sonatas where Beethoven could only imagine the celestial sounds he had in his head.
The Schumanesque type march that followed was played with great rhythmic control only very rarely did Pavlovic’s youthful temperament disturb the unyielding flow that Beethoven demands.
“Slow and longingly” Beethoven asks for in the third movement and this young artist certainly treated us to that today with such a beautifully modulated melodic line leading to the last movement played with great deliberation as Beethoven asks and here Pavlovic’s great temperament finally caught fire.
Great control in this very difficult movement with the typical Beethovenian outbursts played with such full rich orchestral sound.
This in turn lead to an extraordinary performance of Chopin’s Polonaise Fantasie.
So often played with more Fantasie than Polonaise and as the opening great expanse of sounds unravelled out of the majestic opening chords I thought we were in for another of those interpretations from the so called Chopin specialist.
Those that specialise in playing with great feeling but rarely in time.
However in this late work of Chopin one was aware of a very serious musical mind much like that of a Perahia or Zimerman where there can be flexibility and passion combined with great control and sense of architectural shape.
Yes the roots in the ground and the branches free to move naturally in the wind as Chopin would describe his so called rubato to his aristocratic but rather poor lady students that he was forced to teach to survive.
Unfortunately the tradition from these second rate amateur pianists has been passed down as the authentic Chopin.
Nothing could be further from the truth as Artur Rubinstein and many after him have since shown us.
The build up to the final outburst was very well judged and kept excitingly under control.
Never have I heard the Scriabin Fantasie played with such a clear sense of line and direction.
A very passionately felt performance in which control, musicianship and sense of balance gave a commanding vision to this often fragmented piece that comes between the 3rd and 4th sonatas.
In a single movement it is a challenge for the performer to bring all the various strands and contrasting episodes together making the final passionate explosion so inevitably right.
It brought this short hour long programme to a sumptuous romantic finish .
Despite insistent applause no encore was possible after such a trascendental exhibition of such mastery.