The amazing Ming Xie at St Bartholomew the Great with his extraordinary recording technician Thibault Charrin
A mouthwatering account of Brahms Paganini Book 1 was a magnificent finish to his lunchtime recital for the City Music Society.
A very fine performance of great clarity due to his careful use of the sustaining pedal in which his finger legato was quite incredible.
The 6th variation with very little pedal made the difference between staccato left hand and portamento right so clean and clear as is rarely the case in lesser hands.
His sense of balance was quite extraordinary and nowhere more than in the sublime 12th variation where the melodic line in the left hand was embelished by the right with such delicacy.
The glissandi that followed were thrown off with an ease that would have had any other pianists in tears.
The power of the final variation was quite breathtaking.
It was preceded by Beethoven’s Sonata op 31 n.3 which in his hands has never sounded so “pastoral”.Even more so than the “official” Pastoral Sonata op 28 .
A continuous bubbling over of energy like water running over a brook.
It had me rushing to the score too to check some of the details that were so originally and rightly observed.
Not sure about the opening ritardando that was the only place that sounded rather ponderous in a performance that had us almost dancing in the aisles.
The first movement leading into the second without a break was so perfectly right one wonders why others have not done the same..
The Menuetto and even more famous Trio were played with such beautiful tone and heartfelt shaping,rarely has this little Menuetto sounded so wonderfully mellifluous.
The Scherzo from a Midsummer Night’s Dream in the famous transcription by Rachmaninov was played with such ” joie de vivre” that we were not even aware of the feats of piano playing that were being conjured before our very eyes.
A little waltz by Tchaikowsky: “Natha- Valse” op 51 n.4 was thrown off with all the charm and ease of the great virtuosi of the past.
His magnificent Brahms only included Book one so it left time for two encores.
Ravel “Ondine” that was the most beautiful account I ever wish to hear.It was played with the clarity and ease of Jeux d’eau but of course much more transcendentally difficult.
A wonderful sense of balance in which the water nymph flitted in waters that were so crystal clean and clear it was almost beyond belief.The final melody was so beautifully judged as she drowned in a mist of pedal only to be reawakened by cascades of sounds that disappeared as they had begun.
His second encore was Chopin’s study op 25 n.6 in double thirds that we learnt incredulously afterwards he had not played for two years!
Martha Argerich was not joking when she said he was a phenomenon.