POINT AND COUNTERPOINT Chronicle of events of the Keyboard Charitable Trust from January to June 2018


Chronicle of events from January to June 2018

by Christopher Axworthy,  Co-Artistic  Director




What an amazingly busy and successful six months it has been for the KCT with tours in Italy, Germany and the USA and individual concerts throughout England, Cyprus and the Isle of Man.

All summed up so beautifully in an article penned by our founding father John Leech:  https://allaboutpiano.co/the-essential-keyboard-trust/

The year started in Viterbo with our annual recital at the Tuscia University for Prof. Ricci with Mark Viner who went on to play in the Teatro Ghione in Rome, the Teatro Comunale in Vicenza for the series ‘Incontro sulla Tastiera’ for Mariantonietta Righetto Sgueglia and in Venice, Padua and Abano Terme for AGIMUS, Padua directed by Elia Modenese. He gave the same programme as he was to present in the KCT Prize Winner’s concert at Wigmore Hall on 2 March 2018.

‘Mark Viner shows us how to transform the piano into an orchestra Superlative technical skill even in “forgotten” composers.’ — Eva Purelli, Vicenza

Here is my report of Mark Viner’s concerts in Italy:  https://christopheraxworthymusiccommentary.wordpress.com/2018/01/18/mark-viner-takes-italy-by-storm/

Whilst Mark was playing in the Palazzo Zacco-Armeni on a Sunday afternoon in January, another of our pianists André Gallo was playing in the morning in the historic Sala dei Giganti in a series for young Italian pianists organised by the renowned Amici della Musica with whom we also have an annual appointment.

Here are my thoughts on this performance: https://christopheraxworthymusiccommentary.wordpress.com/2018/01/22/andregallo-a-master-speaks-2/

After many years’ collaboration with Elia Modenese and AGIMUS, our presence was requested as part of the commission for the 15th Series of the International Prize for Soloists with Orchestra. The final was with the prestigious Orchestra di Padova e del Veneto, one of the finest chamber orchestras in Europe, in the Auditorium Pollini.

Here were my comments:  https://christopheraxworthymusiccommentary.wordpress.com/2018/01/28/citta-di-padua-international-prize-of-elia-modenese-and-elisabetta-gesuato-for-agimus-padova/

On 20 January Iyad Sughayer gave a well-received programme of Handel, Schubert/Tirimo and Liszt at the Newport Music Club in Shropshire.

On 8 February, IIya Kondratiev played in our ongoing series ‘Up Close — The Next Generation’  with the Principals of Manchester Camerata at the Stoller Hall in Manchester, repeated at The Muni in Colne on 9 February.  It was a concert for Valentine’s Day with the charming title of ‘Camerata in Love’.

Here were my comments:  https://christopheraxworthymusiccommentary.wordpress.com/2018/02/09/the-camerata-in-love/

On 20 February 2018, Vitaly Pisarenko gave the first recital in what we hope will become a prestigious new venue for the Trust:  the Parliament Chamber at the Temple in London. (This recital was initiated and encouraged by Sir Geoffrey Nice QC, a KCT Trustee and member of Temple Garden Chambers.)

Here is my report: https://christopheraxworthymusiccommentary.wordpress.com/2018/02/22/the-supreme-mr-pisarenko/

Mark Viner gave the annual KCT Prizewinner’s Wigmore Hall recital on 2 March 2018, having performed all over Italy for the KCT during January 2018. The concert was in memory of the renowned music critic, Bill Newman, a generous benefactor to the KCT.

‘From his stronghold as the Chairman of both the Alkan and Liszt Societies of the United Kingdom, he goes on to reinstate these and other masters or forgotten virtuosi in their actual historical interaction. He thus contributes steadily to the enhancement of our conscious overview of 19th century piano playing and its influences from and to other genres, such as Literature and Art.’ –  Kyriakos P.Loukakos

And from Seen and Heard: http://seenandheard-international.com/2018/03/mark-viner-at-the-wigmore-hall-elicits-musings-on-virtuosity/.

And here were my thoughts:


On 23 March Ilya Kondratiev substituted at the last minute for an indisposed Mariam Batsashvili in Cyprus at the Pharos Shoe Factory of Garo Keheyan.

Yvonne Georgiadou, Artistic Director, wrote:

‘THANK YOU for introducing us to Ilya! Please express our utmost gratitude to the board of the KCT — you can even tell Mariam that we thank her because if it were not for her cancelation we might have never encountered such an amazing artist, or we might have been late in discovering him.

We have come across some really amazing piano talents in the last couple of years of our collaboration with the KCT, but I dare to say that Ilya is the most exceptional of all. I even dare to say…. I have been working as the Artistic Director of Pharos for over 12 years, and I have listened to countless pianists, some of them are considered amongst the most important names on the international scene. Never before did a pianist keep me locked on my seat, full of excitement from the beginning till the end. He is a fascinating artist. He enlivens the piano, he makes it sound like a full orchestra. It brings out all the colours, all the expressions and sentiments. There is so much character in his playing, and so many characters interacting with each other. He is not just technically exceptional but there is something about his general approach to the performance that cannot be captured on video or explained in words. Ilya should have been one of the biggest names in Europe right now. We will definitely invite him to Cyprus again, there is no question about it. Thank you, thank you again for introducing Ilya to us. I knew he would be a very talented young pianist, but nothing prepared me for such a revelation.’

On 21 April we were invited to recommend a KCT pianist for the Festival in Grosseto in Tuscany ‘Recondite Armonie’, now in its fifth year and run by Galina Chistiakova (a KCT artist) and her husband Diego Benocci.

The Artistic Directors selected André Gallo who gave a recital dedicated to the works of Debussy.

André and Galina (Gala), both colleagues from the famous music school in Imola will also perform together in a two piano programme of  Mozart, Schumann and Saint Saëns  on 4 October in our series ‘Up Close — The Next Generation’ with the Principals of Manchester Camerata.

Here is my report on Andre’s recital in Grosseto:


On 25 April Hin Yat Tsang played at the Bechstein Centrum in Frankfurt for long-standing KCT Friends, Sibylle and Patrick Rabut, who invite a KT pianist to perform in their Series twice every year.

These were their comments:

‘The concert is over and once more left an enthusiastic and overwhelmed public behind. Hin-Yat Tsang did a fantastic job with an exigent and challenging programme. Perhaps, rather too challenging … the twelve Scriabin Etudes were too much and it might have been better to start with three or four of the Etudes for warming up and then play the Beethoven Sonate No.28, Op. 101, which is a difficult one. The second half with Chopin and Rachmaninov was just marvellous as well as the Bach encore.’

Mariam Batsashvili gave two concerts in Germany — on 26 April at Steinway Hall in Cologne and on 27 April at the magnificent Orangery at Castle Rheda, organised by Trustee, Moritz von Bredow.

‘Mariam Batsashvili really is one of the best pianists the KT has ever supported. Her understanding of the music comes from an indescribable inner connection to each epoch … ‘ — Moritz von Bredow.

Here is his complete report:

https://christopheraxworthymusiccommentary.wordpress.com/2018/05/29/moritz-von-bredow-report-on-mariam-batsashvili-in-germany-april-2018/ .

Mariam will return to Germany to Steinway Hall in Hamburg on 5 July — to be followed by a Hauskonzert for Moritz von Bredow on 6 July — for which she will be playing the Goldberg Variations.  Prior to this concert she will fly to Virginia to give a recital to celebrate Dietlinde Turban Maazel’s marriage to Tony Wood on 1 July.

[Vitaly Pisarenko with our founding fathers John and Noretta Leech – and Trustee Evgeny Kissin.]

On 4 May, Vitaly Pisarenko gave the first concert in our new collaboration with the Erin Arts Festival on the Isle of Man. He went on to play at Hatchlands on 10 May in our new series organised by Elena Vorotko as part of her Historic Piano programme for the KCT.  He played on an historic 1864 Steinway from Alec Cobbe’s amazing collection.

Here were my comments:


Vitaly went on to play at the Chopin Society in London on 20 May as part of their series of Leeds top prize winners:


On 4 May Mark Viner played at the Anthony Burgess Foundation in Manchester for our series ‘Up Close— The Next Generation’ with members of Manchester Camerata, a concert repeated at Adbaston Concert Society in Staffordshire. These collaborative concerts are very much the brainchild of Geoffrey Shindler, our Chairman.  Now in its second year, the Series is proving an ever-growing success.



On 11 May at Steinway Hall we were proud to honour the Trustees of the Max Grünebaum Foundation, Cottbus with a recital by Sasha Grynyuk.

In John Leech’s own words: ‘Your visit allows us to acknowledge a vital bond we have shared with the City of Cottbus for the past 27 years: the Keyboard Trust in London owes as much of its existence to the hard work and generosity of Marion and Ellen Frank, as the creation of the magnificent Theatre that you help to sustain did to their grandfather Max Grünebaum.’


On 22 May André Gallo played in New York for us in a new venue on West 57th street — Parc Vendôme — born out of a last minute cancellation by Steinway Hall. One of the most knowledgeable critics in New York sent us a one line email after the concert: ‘STUPENDO ….!’

André went on to play for Beth Glendinning, ex-Assistant of Ormandy, in Philadelphia:

‘Hi — I just put André on the train to Wilmington, and miss him already.  It’s amazing — the way I bond with your pianists, and can’t bear to see them leave.  His concert was fabulous, with raves from the audience.  His talent and personality overwhelmed us.  I think he finally caught up with his sleep deprivation and jet lag, but none of that was evident in his playing.  He has a glorious technique and sound.  We want him to come back (on what would be his second trip to America), because he didn’t see enough of our country on this brief tour.  He appeared to enjoy the reception we gave post-concert.  He is so interesting, aside from his musical life, that everyone he met here was deeply impressed. All the best to you, and many thanks for sending this remarkable young man our way. Beth.’

[Photo of Beth Glendinning with Mark Viner from 2016.)

And for our friends in Cokesbury Village in Delaware: ‘Last night, Cokesbury Village was treated to another overwhelming performance by yet another gifted pianist sponsored by your splendid organization.  André Gallo played a wide ranging program that allowed us to appreciate both his extreme sensitivity and phenomenal touch in quieter pieces and his astonishing facility and power in more dramatic works.  In addition to his technical virtuosity he exhibited a delightfully ingratiating style in introducing each selection.  The standing ovation he received was whole hearted and much deserved.’

This winter, there were three Steinway Hall ‘auditions’ in London:

  • 28th February Adrian Brendle



  • 21st March Filip Michalak


  • 25th April Tomoki Sakata


Three extraordinary performances over the past months by ‘emeriti’ KCT artists may also be of interest:



  • Mihai Ritivoiu on 16 May at Cadogan Hall with the English Chamber Orchestra directed by Michael Collins and promoted by the City Music Foundation.

Mihai Ritivoiu performed Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto No.2 and Michael Foyle performed Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No.1 — with an encore for piano and violin by Prokofiev.

‘The superb English Chamber Orchestra conducted by Michael Collins offered a splendid account of Tchaikovsky’s 4th Symphony – and there’s a great new CD of works by Liszt, Enescu and Cesar Franck.’ – C. Axworthy.


 Scots pianist, Yuanfan Yangyuanfanyang.com —  will be giving a recital at St Michael and all Angels in Adbaston, Staffordshire for Adbaston Concert Society on Sunday, 3 June featuring works by Beethoven, Chopin, Haydn, Brahms — and one of his own compositions:  Waves (from Three Aquarelles).

  Vitaly Pisarenko will be giving a performance of Ravel’s Piano Concerto with the London Mozart Players, conducted by Hilary Davan Wetton on Sunday, 17 June:

 Mention should also be made of our last audition before the summer on Wednesday, 20 June at Steinway Hall at 19.00 by Nicola Losito.

Having graduated with the highest honours, Italian pianist Nicola Losito, 22, is currently studying with Leonid Margarius at the Imola International Piano Academy ‘Incontri col Maestro’ and with Massimo Gon at the Giuseppe Tartini Music Conservatory in Trieste.
Nicola has won first prize in prestigious national and international competitions including the National Piano Competition ‘Muzio Clementi’ (Florence), the 6th Isidor Bajic Piano Memorial Competition Novi Sad (Serbia), the International Piano Competition ‘Dinu Lipatti’ (Bucharest).He has recorded two CDs for labels Amadeus and Movimento Classical. He has also recorded for Rai Radio 1, Radio Classica, Radio Vaticana and Sky. Since 2017, he has been President and Artistic Director of the Italian Philharmonic Association.


Etude Op.10 nos.1, 2, 3, 4 and 12
Etude Op.25 Nos.7 and 12
Sonata Hob.XVI:50
Faschingsschwank aus Wien Op.26

  • On Friday, 22 June (17.30) Vitaly Pisarenko will be performing with members of Manchester Camerata as part of Manchester’s Góbéfest, the UK’s only Transylvanian and Szekler Hungarian Festival of Arts and Culture. Vitaly will be playing Beethoven’s Piano Trio Op.70 ‘The Ghost’ and pieces by Bartók and Kodály.

Full details on this link:  http://www.manchestercamerata.co.uk/whats-on/concerts/g-b-fest

 Adrian Brendle will give a recital for the KCT and Kestrel Music on Wednesday, 27 June in St Giles-without-Cripplegate (Fore Street, London EC2Y 8DA) at 13.00 in a programme in memory of Dame Myra Hess and her National Gallery wartime performances:



Mention should also be made of the podcasts that Sasha Grynyuk (in collaboration with my co-Artistic Directors, Elena Vorotko and Leslie Howard), have created and which can now be viewed on the KCT website.

These feature interviews and short performances with Alexander Ullman, Evgeny Genchev, Martina Kazmierczak (harpsichord), Iyad Sughayer, Jean Rondeau and Mark Viner. 

Best wishes to everyone for a very happy Summer holiday – and please do join us for as many of these Summer Concerts as you can!

Christopher Axworthy, Co-Artistic Director and Trustee


May 2018


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