Dancing in the snow with Alexander Ullman

Alexander Ullman Dancing in the Snow
Spring at last – Alexander Ullman in Perivale
Many a word has been said about this remarkable British pianist but there is still so much more to say after today’s extraordinary performances that brought out the sun …a firebird of such radiance the snow just did not stand a chance!………..
A new CD in the offing Alex tells me when I asked him why he was playing the Prokofiev Cinderella Suite.
A first outing for this piece that will be included in his CD “Ullman at the Ballet”!?

                Hugh Mather turning pages for Alex Ullman
After his recent performances with the Ballet in Oslo when he played Gershwin song transcriptions and The Nutcracker with the dancers all around him on stage!
I am not a great fan of Prokofiev which I find exploits too often the percussive side of the piano rather than trying to persuade us that in the right magical hands it can seem to sing as no other.
Hugh Mather was very happy to invite Alex to his Tuesday afternoon piano series that is breaking all records of attendance even in the snow!
Almost apologetically Alex said he was playing this new work with the score and with Hugh Mather turning pages to boot.
Well even Hugh’s eagle eyes had a job to keep up with this quite extraordinary performance.
Never have I heard a Prokofiev where every note – and there were many- spoke so directly.
The last time I heard anything so beautiful (and that is not a word I would readily apply to this composer) was the Visions Fugitives of Rubinstein on a recording taken from the 10 recitals he gave at Carnegie Hall .The famous recitals that he announced to Sol Hurok that he wanted to donate to charity to thank the American people for all they had done for him in his long career!
Also on the all too rare occasions in Prokofiev 3rd Concerto and 7th Sonata from Martha Argerich too.
Convince me, there is no such thing as right or wrong , is what Sergio Tofano told my wife at the equivalent of RADA in Italy when she exclaimed that she had made a mistake.
And convince us he certainly did.
Having recently taken first prize in the Utrecht Liszt Competition ( past winners include Vitaly Pisarenko and Mariam Batsashvili)his playing has grown in stature.
That God given gift nurtured from young at the Purcell School together with his fellow school friends Evelyne Berezovsky and Kausikan Rajeshkumar all have the power when they are playing to be 100% in the music.
No external force could distract them or us in that moment .
It is a very rare thing indeed and now with the training he has received from Fleischer,Macdonald and Alexeev he has been able to maintain that almost youthful innocence that Rubinstein had until his 90th year.
Pressler indeed at 95 sill has it as is evident from his new remarkable CD called “Claire de lune”.
As I say from my previous thoughts, the Pletnev transcriptions are a dream for pianists .
Rawitz and Landauer indeed.
The only difference is that like Thalberg or Liszt there are only two hands on the piano.
A true magic trick that we thought had been lost with the passing of these two giant innovators of the modern piano.
Sandor could never understand why Pletnev wanted to dedicate himself to conducting when he had such a unique gift for the keyboard!
The appearance of the sun in Agosti’s extraodinary transcription of Stravinky’s Firebird was pure magic coming as it did after the most amazing pyrotechnics .
The build up to the final where Agosti uses the entire breadth of the piano was quite overwhelming.
“En reve” that Gordon Green was one of the first to propose to his many now renowned students,was the ideal encore .
At peace indeed with the world.
The sun now blazing outside this beautiful little wooden church that has been reborn to give space to such extraordinarily gifted young musicians .
Thanks are just not enough for Hugh Mather and his dedicated colleagues.

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