Vitaly Pisarenko at Hatchlands

Vitaly Pisarenko at Hatchlands
Vitaly Pisarenko at Hatchlands.
A beautiful recital on a Steinway of 1864 in the truly magnificent setting of Hatchlands in East Clandon in Surrey for the Cobbe Collection Trust in collaboration with the Keyboard Charitable Trust.
The second concert for the KCT with the remarkable Mr Alec Cobbe and his collection of unique historic instruments.
A collaboration welded together by Dr Elena Vorotko Honorary Research Fellow of historic instruments at the Royal Academy and one of the artistic directors and trustees of the Keyboard Charitable Trust.
After the remarkable recital by Jean Rondeau of the Goldberg Variations on an historic english harpsichord of 1787,today it was the turn of a star pianist of the Keyboard Charitable Trust,Vitaly Pisarenko.
Winner of the Liszt International Competition in Utrecht at the age of twenty and recently a top prize winner in the Leeds International Piano Competition.
He has already performed at the Wigmore Hall as KCT Prize Winner and recently gave a showcase recital in the Parliament Chamber in the prestigious Inner Temple in London. He has also performed for the KCT Rachmaninov 2nd and 3rd piano concertos in the series of Rachmaninov’s complete works for piano and orchestra for the Amici della Musica di Ancona with the Orchestra Marchigiana performing in Ancona Fabriano and the Teatro Rossini di Pesaro.
Performing today on the most modern instrument in this historic collection- A New York Steinway of 1864.
A programme similar to the recent performance in the Inner Temple but with the inclusion of Schubert Drei Klavierstucke D.946 and two Scherzi by Chopin :n.1 in B minor and n.2 in B flat minor.
It was immediately apparent that although this piano did not have the strength and brilliance of the modern day Steinway it did have a very mellow sound ideally suited to the more sublime melodic invention of which Schubert was master.
Starting with the 12 German Dances D.790 as already outlined below he included in Hatchlands the 3 Klavierstucke that can sometimes be so problematical in the concert hall.
Here the mellow piano sound in a smaller and more refined space was the ideal location for these three late pieces.
Probably a similar place where Schubert and his contemporaries were used to sharing their music in an intimate setting amongst friends.
The long songlike Allegretto that makes up the second piece in this trilogy sang in a way that is rare to find on a modern day piano.
A sound both rich and yet melodic.
Limited and delicate but at the same time a robust sound that did not allow for sentimentality such was the directness of the sound produced by this historic instrument.
Beautifully shaped where even the tempestuous middle section that is marked fortissimo with bass sforzandi was in the same sound world.
It was interesting to note that the limitations of the instrument were in fact to the advantage of the music that on modern instruments can sound too Beethovenian in the sense of symphonic instead of purely instrumental.
The sublime A flat minor episode was given a completely different meaning.
The melodic invention allowed to sing out so naturally and poignantly as never before and the passionate outbursts always interrupting in a seemingly more reserved gentlemanly way than we are normally accustomed.
No histrionics but emotions kept under perfect control.
The return of the Allegretto came like a beam of light that disintegrated before our very eyes with the final five chords played with an amazing control in an ever more expressive pianissimo.
Great rhythmic control in the opening Allegro assai contrasting with the beautiful cantabile of the middle Andante.
The pianissimo flourishes thrown off like a delicate breeze embellishing the melodic line.
Alec Cobbe was interested to know that Vitaly played the second section that Schubert had in fact crossed out in the later autograph edition.
That great Schubertian Alfred Brendel does not include it in his performances but here it was included as the simple landler of great contrast before the urgency of the final return of the Allegro assai.

Vitaly Pisarenko in discussion with Alec Cobbe
The technical challenges in the final Allegro were thrown off with great aplomb and brilliance showing that even a piano with limited sound can in the right hands achieve great rhythmic urgency.
The beautiful D flat section was allowed to pulsate with an onward momentum and sense of colour that gave great contrast to the brilliance of the great virtuosity expected in the final exciting pages.
After the interval we were introduced to the world of Chopin and Liszt.
The Ballade n.2 and the Hungarian Rhapsody n.10 displaying great feats of virtuosity.
The famous glissandi in the Rhapsody were thrown off with great charm and ease as befits this famous showpiece.
The Ballade n.2 displayed all the virtuosity that one would expect from the winner of the International Liszt Competition and although the piano did not have the reserves of sound that a modern day piano could provide it did give an overall sense of line and structure in a work that can so often sound fragmented.
The transformation of the delicate opening melody into a tumultuous passionate outpouring sounded a more natural evolution that one normally expects on the modern instrument in the hands of barn storming virtuosi.
Of course Vitaly although a remarkable virtuoso is also a remarkable musician as was no more clearly demonstrated than in the two Chopin Scherzi.
The opening declamation in the first scherzo was of the same sound as the great virtuosistic flourishes that evolve from it.
The beautiful Polish Folk Song that makes up the central section was beautifully and simply shaped and the tumultuous coda was truly breathtaking.
The opening triplet of the B flat minor Scherzo was so clear and when at the repeat it is held it became really quite startling as never before.
The great virtuoso demands were thrown off with great passion and elan and the coda was a remarkable tour de force and showed that once entering into this limited tone world a true musician and virtuoso can shape and in many ways make the musical line more apparent.
A long programme on a balmy summers evening with the smell of the lilacs wafting into the room from the magnificent surrounds of this unique stately home the residence of the remarkable Cobbe Collection housing more than 50 unique instruments.


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