Chamber Fest in Notting Hill

Chamber Fest in Notting Hill
Tchaikovsky Piano Trio A minor op. 50
with Sasha Grynyuk, Yuri Zhislin violin and Alexei Sarkissov cello.
Brahms Zwei Gesange op 91 with Alexia Mankovskaya ,mezzo soprano.
The first in this new series of chamber music at St John’s Notting Hill organised by Sasha Grynyuk and Katya Gorbatiouk with the intent to share a platform with some of London’s finest musicians and outstanding programming of both rare and beloved repertoire.

Alexia Mankovskaya ,mezzo soprano with Sasha Grynyuk and Alexei Sarkissov
I have long admired Sasha’s playing and am pleased to see that now others can too in his festival of Chamber Music in this very fine church on the hill overlooking Portobello Road .

The distinguished audence included John Leech who had translated so poetically the two Brahms songs sung in German.
The first concert was dedicated to Brahms and Tchaikowsky.
It was very fitting that the first words of the Zwei Gesange op 91 should be “Bathed in the golden light of evening…….”
On this balmy night it was the throbbing passionate sounds of the cello that heralded the entry of Alexia Mankovskaya with her requited longing so beautifully expressed.
A voice that was passionately sustained by the piano of Sasha Grynyuk and the cello of Alexei Sarkissov.
Listening attently to each other but with the right abandon that only friends can risk together in their music making.
The piano lid fully open but never did it overpower his colleagues due to the sensitivity with which they were all listening to each other.
There was a gentle lilt from the piano in the second song that set this seal on this gentle Religious Lullaby:”Joseph,dear Joseph mine,help me to rock my lovely baby God will repay you……….Angels that are borne upon the wind – still the tree tops -my Child is asleep”…..such beautiful words enrshrined in the sublime music of Brahms.
The baby may have been asleep but he certainly would have woken up with the work that followed!
Tchaikowsky’s Piano Trio in A minor op 50 took centre stage.
A heroic perf0rmance full of passionate melodies and pyrotechnics in the only Trio that Tchaikowsky wrote maybe persuaded by the success of his second piano concerto op 44 where the slow movement is a communion between trio and orchestra.

Yuri Zhislin Sasha Grynyuk Alexei Sarkissov
He had certainly written in 1880 to his benefactress Nadezhda von Meck saying:”You ask why I have never written a trio.Forgive me,dear friend,I would do anything to give you pleasure ,but this is beyond me…..I simply cannot endure the combination of piano with violin or cello.”
The Trio was sent to his publishers on 11th february 1882!
It is a Trio that has become one of then most important in the repertoire.
It was given a virtuoso performance with three virtuosi in a continual question and answer from the opening Romantic declaration to the dissolving end of the first movement.
The theme and variations showing off every possible combination between the instruments.
From the pizzicato strings to the music box sounds of the piano.
Washes of sound from the virtuosistic runs on the piano answered by the romantic ruminations of the cello and violin in unison.
An intricate fugato and even a Mazurka variation with a short piano cadenza.
Superbly played by all three in a generous give and take of mutual anticpation that is the sign of true chamber music making.
An hour of music followed by a buffet was an ideal formula.
At last a programme  with all the information that one could need to know the performers and understand the background to the works they are performing.
The next concert in the series with a piano recital by Evelyne Berezovsky on the 5th July.

Sasha Grynyuk Noretta Conci Leech Pilar Fernandez Katya Gorbatiouk

St John’s Church – Lansdowne Crescent – Notting Hill

Chiyan Wong at St Jude’s

Chiyan Wong at St Jude’s Proms
The genial Chiyan Wong in contemplative mood for St Jude`s Proms.
Mystery with mastery that is only for those unique few with a God given total dedication to their art.
A programme designed as a whole.
From the mystery of Bach to the submission of Liszt “Benediction de Dieu ” indeed.
A remarkable feat of concentration and absolute mastery of his instrument
I have heard Chiyan many times.
From that first time at the house of his mentor Norma Fisher where he gave a private play through of Busoni and Liszt.
It was here in his explanations as well as his extraordinary playing that I realised that we were in the presence of something quite unique.
I then heard a monumental performance of the Goldberg Variations in the Busoni edition.
Chiyan not completely convinced of Busoni’s final solution rewrote his own!
He then went on to play in Villa Wolkonsky-The British Ambassador’s Residence in Rome explaining so lucidly his programme to a High Society audience who were also charmed and entertained by this passionate young man.
I had written a piece about Trifonov a few weeks ago to try to understand exactly what I had heard and to put my thoughts and values into perspective for my own satisfaction.
I soon realised that in trying to clarify my thoughts there are some genial talents that do not fit into any convenient category.
A searching, restless mind is not always easy for the listener or the performer.
It can lead to torment,suffering and miscomprehension.

The  video projected onto giant screens in this extraordinary venue maintained and run by passionate volunteers
The recital that we heard today was a case in point.
It is a collaboration,now in it’s second year,between the Keyboard Charitable Trust and St Jude’s Proms in Hampstead Garden Suburb.
A programme that was in continual evolution right until the moment this lithe young man sat himself infront of the beautiful Steinway Concert Grand that was to be the medium via which he would express himself.
Not just a programme of well balanced works but a vision from the first note to the last in a voyage of discovery that he was sharing spontaneously with us.
“Contemplation” immediately came to mind .But words have no meaning here .Music takes over where words are just not enough.
When I told Chiyan after the concert that like all great artists he is destined to suffer for his art.
He quoted his favourite poet Thomas Merton “To lose one life is to save it”………………….. adding music is the way!
And so it was with his concert a true “Benediction “ which of course was the central work of this concert.
Preceded by six of the Goldberg Variations almost as Bach had written them with just tiny variants from Busoni in the ornamentation and very subtle doubling (very different from the final variations that sound like Liszt Paganini!).
Announced the Aria and variations 1,2,4,5,7,13 but infact he played n.6 in place of n. 7 because it was this that created the mood of extreme serenity within a sound world of extraordinary beauty.

Presented with a red rose at the end of his journey
A sound world that was not interrupted for the “Benediction de Dieu dans la Solitude” which entered like “St Paolo walking on the waves.”
We were hardly aware that one idea had been linked to another in this continual evolution of sumptuous sounds.
Infact the Liszt was quite extraordinary playing and although there were moments where he broke out of his protective shell I did feel occasionally that it lacked an edge or some more definite sounds that could have contrasted more fully with this atmosphere that was being created .
There was though a definite glow around the piano of meditative sounds as though we were in the presence of something really special.
The transcendental piano playing was never in question or even underlined as so often can happen with empty virtuoso performances.
Here was a quite extraordinary technical prowess but like Trifonov the other night it was totally at the service of a personal vision of the music.

Elena Vorotko, co-artistic director of the Keyboard Trust and Sarah Biggs, managing director
This was followed by six preludes op 28 by Chopin to reflect with the six variations of Bach.
Again missing the 17th Prelude announced as he started with the 18th which is a much more fluid prelude that suited his vision in this moment.
But before this we had heard miraculous sounds and silences from “Flowers we are……..”Virag az ember” 1a,3, 4b by Kurtag.
Almost like a “sorbet” in a vast meal that cleanses the palette before starting all over again.
Rubinstein used to play the four Mazurkas by Szmanowski in the middle of an all Chopin recital for the same reason.

The tormented soul greeting his astounded public after his long journey
The final work was and still is in evolution!
The Don Juan Reminiscences by Liszt S 418.
A work that Chiyan has been playing since he was 15 .A fantasy on works by Mozart that Liszt elaborated in his own unique way.But then it was reworked by his pupil Busoni and now has been reworked again by Chiyan Wong.
A great showpiece for virtuosi which usually receives a barnstorming performance seducing the public that used to treat Liszt much like the pop idols of today.
This for the mood that Chiyan had wanted to create was much more subdued.
Some extraordinary virtuosity that almost passed unnoticed because of the beauty of the sound and the complete lack of demonstrative showmanship which is usually the norm.
It quite rightly received a standing ovation from this very discerning public that had listened totally mesmerised by this remarkable display of self denial.
Chiyan putting himself totally at the service of his vision of the music he was transmitting.
As I said of Trifonov;”Je joue,J’ecoute,Je trasmets.” the motto of only a chosen few.

St Jude’s Hampstead Garden Suburb

CD signing after the concert

Beautiful imposing St Jude’s

Elizabeth Sombart and the RPO celebrating Beethoven for Words and Music

Elizabeth Sombart and the RPO celebrating Beethoven for Words & Music
Elizabeth Sombart played Beethoven Concertos n.1 and 5 with the principals of the RPO for Words and Music .
With her regal presence she looked like and Egyptian Princess but played like a celestial
It has been many years since I have heard Elizabeth Sombart since the day she played in the Ghione Theatre in Rome.
So it was such a great surprise to see her on her way to rehearse for the evening concert at St Giles’ Cripplegate.
And even more surprising that she remembered so well that concert in Rome.

Elizabeth Sombart with the same same regal resemblance of that other Elizabeth ………Schwarzkopf!
Nicola Losito had been keeping the piano warm for her with his remarkable lunchtime concert for the same series of Words & Music in collaboration with the Keyboard Charitable Trust.
Playing on a very fine sounding new Bechstein piano on loan from Terry Lewis of Jaques Samuel.
We had noted with Nicola Losito such crystalline sounds and sumptuous bass all signs that the made the old Bechstein a favourite amongst great pianists of the past.
The Wigmore Hall was infact named  the Bechstein Hall before the first world war.
But a piano does not play itself (at least not in this case) and it is very much the artistry of who is at the helm that can reveal all the kaleidoscopic secrets that are hidden in this box of strings and hammers.
It was these secrets that were revealed in this chamber performance of two of the Beethoven Piano Concertos.
The First and the last, the mighty “ Emperor.”
There was an acute sense of balance and sensitivity between the piano of Elizabeth Sombart and the superb strings of Duncan Riddell,Andrew Storey,Abigail Fenna,Richard Harwood and David Gordon – all principals of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.
Such a conversation between musicians listening so carefully to each other in a musical give and take of real mutual anticipation that is rare indeed.
Playing with the score it was a group of equals.
No longer a battle between soloist and orchestra as is so often the case.
Even in the Emperor one was hardly aware that there were only six players where normally it is forty to one!
It allowed for such a subtle and refined sense of rubato that was so unexpected in scores we have listened to for a lifetime.
There were moments of sublime beauty that almost took our breath away.
Such moments that only Rubinstein or Gelber would have dared to seek with only a couple of rehearsal with a symphony orchestra.
Moments of pure magic in the first movement of the first concerto (that was actually the second to be written).
Moments where the piano took just a little extra time to allow Beethoven’s gems to shine as is so rarely possible.
Slowing the tempo very slightly but then immediately followed by an injection of brilliance.
The final few notes of the first concerto were drawn out with such crystalline beauty you could feel the audience being drawn along on this wonderfully flexible wave of sound.
This of course was only possible because of the extraordinarily attentive string players.

The Complete Beethoven Concertos in the Series with the RPO for the 250th celebrations of the birth of Beethoven
The Emperor concerto too that could so easily in lesser hands have suffered from lack of orchestral sound.
There were the great declamations from the piano and startlingly robust octaves.But all within an overall sound world that fitted so perfectly and allowed the musical line to develop so naturally.
The slow movement without the wind entry was even more sublime that with the full orchestra.The simple scales played with just the same inflection that had the orchestra applauding Rubinstein in the rehearsals almost fifty years ago.
The final movements of the two concertos were played with all the rhythmic energy that we are used to.
What it might  just have missed in overall sound was more than compensated for by the driving spirit of these remarkable musicians.
The drum at the end of the Emperor sustained by the double bass and the final flourish heralded a true call to victory for this extraordinary “Empress.”
Performances and recordings of the concertos are planned for the 250th anniversary celebrations with the complete RPO in the Cadogan Hall in London .
This performance tonight was indeed a call to arms !

With a young admirer Daniel the grandson of the renowned musician Philip Pilkington due to play the Emperor on friday.

Philip Pilkington in the green room to congratulate Mme Sombart on the beauty of her perfomances.

The regal presence of an Egyptian Empress indeed

Words and Music – Nicola Losito. Poetry and Virtuosity

Words and Music – Nicola Losito Poetry and Virtuosity
For the second time The Keyboard Charitable Trust has been invited to take part in the Summer Music series in City Churches.
Last year the concert was dedicated to the Myra Hess famous National Gallery concerts during the war years.
This year it is dedicated to Words and Music.
”Music celebrating words and words illuminating music”.
But surely music takes over where words are just not enough?
The postludes to the Schubert Lieder are evidence enough of that.
But today we received even more evidence from a slight 23 year old Italian pianist who regaled us with such sumptuous sounds of pure poetry and sublime beauty that the literary connotations of the works he was invited to play paled into insignificance as he brought to life such scenes and emotions as rarely experienced on stage.
Nicola Losito from Trieste in Italy already has an enviable curriculum of prizes awarded in International Competitions and has already great experience of playing with fine orchestras.
He studies still with that magician  Leonid Magarius at the Academy in Imola whilst concluding his formal studies in Trieste Conservatory with Massimo Gon.
He played for the Keyboard Trust in a concert in the Hall of Fame in Steinway Hall this time last year.
His talent was noted by such  piano connoisseurs as Bryce Morrison and Alberto Portugheis.
It was good to hear him again in a varied programme from Bach to Tchaikowsky.
He had just played a programme the day before in Trieste with the two sonatas op 27 by Beethoven but it was the transcription by Myra Hess from the Bach cantata BWV 147 “Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring” that opened todays hour long programme.
It immediately set the seal on what was to follow.
For here was a pianist who was actually listening intently to the sounds he was making.
Like Myra Hess from the school of Tobias Matthay creating unforced sounds of great beauty by illuding us that the piano is not a percussive instrument where a sound struck immediately starts to die away.
By their supreme artistry the great pianists can make us think the opposite.
By a very subtle sense of touch but above all by an ultra sensitivity to balance they can give the illusion that the piano is the greatest singing instrument of all.
And so it was today the beautiful chorale melody sang out as it must have done in Dame Myra or Dame Moura’s hands.
Completely unforced with the fluid accompaniment caressing like waves the sublime melodic invention of J S Bach.
This led without a break into the first of Brahms’s four Ballades based on the Scottish ballad Edward.
From the opening magical sounds and the gradual reawakening to a great orchestral climax .From a young Brahms this surely must have been one of the works he astounded the Schumann’s with when he exclaimed:”What he played to us is so masterly that one can only think the good God sent him ready-made into the world.”
This was just a prelude to the main work on the programme that was the “Dante Sonata” by Liszt.
It is a work more often played by young virtuosi than the B minor Sonata that is one of the recognised masterpieces of the Romantic repertoire.
It is full of octaves and startling virtuoso passages and very often receives performances that do not portray the significance of the reaction Liszt had to reading Dante’s Divine Comedy.
Liszt once confessed :”My piano is the repository of all that stirred my nature in the impassioned days of my youth.I confided to it all my desires ,my dreams,my sorrows.Its strings vibrated to my emotions ,and its keys obeyed my every caprice.”
And so it was today in the hands of this young poet.
Such a gentle opening with the menacing silences pregnant with meaning.
A remarkable technical command on the double octaves and snarling scales that adorn the more dramatic episodes but always at the service of the music.
Crystaline sounds pungently chiselled in the central section where the dawn appearing gently on the horizon was so magical.
Helped by the very subtle outlining of the left hand thumb creating sounds of almost unbearable beauty with a quite extraordinary range of colour.
The extraordinary feats of virtuosity in the final section were quite breathtaking in their audacity.
But this was a pianist on the crest of a wave who was being driven by a deep poetical force and had all the technical means to follow his impassioned feelings.
Here was enacted a true drama worthy of Words and Music………….

Nicola Losito with Sarah Biggs general manager of the Keyboard CharitableTrust
An absolute impish clarity and fleetness of touch signaled the opening of Prokofiev’s Suite from “Romeo and Juliet”.
The demonic grandiloquence of the great Romeo theme was every bit as impressive in the hands of this young musician as it ever is from a full symphony orchestra.
The final work was the “Nutcracker Suite” by Tchaikowsky in the virtuoso arrangement by Mikhail Pletnev.

Roy Emerson master recording engineer
An uninhibited unravelling of swirling notes and truly magical sounds.
From the absolute control and rhythmic clarity of the opening march to the beautiful bells of the Sugar Plum Fairy.
The swirls of sound in the Intermezzo on which seemed to float unimpeded the heartrending  melody of great nostalgia leading to a great climax spread over the whole range of the keyboard.
An enormously rhythmic Trepak leading to the purely orchestral sounds of the chinese dance.

CD signing after the concert
The final Andante Maestoso filled this mighty building to the rafters with sumptuous sounds.
Notes thrown off with an exilarating abandon in a transcendental display of virtuosity from another era.
Pletnev does indeed belong to the Golden era of piano playing and it was Sandor who could not understand why someone who can play like that only wants to conduct.
Such is genius.Unpredictable,uncontrolable and in life totally impossible to live with!
By great public demand Nicola chose to play two Chopin Studies as encores.
The first and the last of the 24 Etudes.
Op 25 n.12 and op 10 n.1.
An amazing show of virtuosity with a total command of the keyboard both digitally and musically.
I have never heard the melodic line sing out so clearly in the study op 25 n.12 or such an overwhelming build up to the last mighty chord.
Op 10 n.1 was so clearly shaped from the bass with a seemless accompaniment over the whole range of the keyboard.

with family friends from Italy

St Giles without Cripplegate

The triumph of the Hornton Chamber Orchestra

The Elegance of Rachmaninov – french style
A very fine performance of the Beethoven Triple Concerto op 56 with Enyuan Khong,violin,Pedro Silva,cello, and the conductor Jack Wong directing from the keyboard was followed by a truly elegant performance by the young french composer/ pianist Thibault Charrin of Rachmaninov 3rd Piano concerto.

Jack Wong directing Beethoven from the keyboard
A group of young musicians under the name of Hornton Chamber Orchestra gave a sumptuous performance in which the strings in particular were passionately involved and the technical skill of the whole ensemble was impeccable.
The flute of Marcus Dawe was singled out for applause at the end of the Rachmaninov but it could have been for any of the other members of this very fine ensemble.
Jack Wong is the resident music scholar at the Hornton Street House and founder of the Hornton Chamber Orchestra from which it takes its name.A curriculum that states he graduated with first class honours from the Royal Academy of Music where he studied violin with Levon Chillingirian and Rodney Friend!
But there he was tonight playing the very difficult piano part in Beethoven’s Triple Concerto whilst conducting from the keyboard!
Later conducting a sumptuous performance of Rachmaninov.
A Rachmaninov that saw at the helm the young composer who I had seen premier his violin sonata recently with Enyuan Khong at St James’s Piccadilly in a concert promoted by Talent Unlimited.
An amazing group of musicians gathered together for the joy of making music together.
A Beethoven strictly held together in a very rhythmic performance that allowed Beethoven’s energy to shine through and at the same time to herald an extremely lyrical period of his life that culminated in the Fourth Piano Concerto op 58 and the Pastoral Symphony op 68.This Triple Concerto op 56 is one of the most serene of all his concertos.
Beautiful play between the soloists commented on by the orchestra in a perfect ensemble held together from the keyboard by Jack Wong.
The Rachmaninov 3rd piano concerto is the Everest of all concertos and its heights were scaled by our young french composer pianist with great elegance and lyricism.
Rather than the usual barnstorming performances we have got used too by showmen on their warhorse.
This did not exclude exilarating moments of transcendental piano playing but they were always at the service of this extremely lyrical and elegant vision of our young soloist.
The ensemble was kept well under control by the conductor who now could leave the piano playing to his colleague and concentrate on encouraging these very fine young players to listen to each other and unite their youthful passion in these glorious romantic melodies.
The flute player was singled out for his very beautiful playing at the end of the cadenza but it was the sumptuous strings that were equally as remarkable.
Some  very fine playing from an ensemble that will obviously go from strength to strength.

Victor Maslov at the Royal Albert Hall

Today’s programme for the RCM coffee concert series
It is a beautiful idea to be able to wake up on a sunday morning to the sound of music in Queen Victoria’s monument to her dearly beloved husband Albert.
Here in what has been re-cristened the Elgar Room one can hear some of the prize students from their next door neighbour the Royal College of Music.
In 1884 it was known as the West Theatre and Mr Barton,a student of the RCM, performed Chopin’s 3rd Ballade on the 2 July to open a programme that included Mozart, Handel,Gluck,Schumann and Haydn.
A beautifully elegant, if sparsely decorated room with large windows that look on to the Albert Monument opposite in Kensington Gardens.
130 years on great photos of Frank Sinatra,Ella Fitzgerald and the Beatles now adorn the walls.In the corner on a podium is the Yamaha Grand Piano that Elton John used for his Red Piano Tour that has now been very generously bequeathed to the Albert Hall by Marksons Pianos.
It is a piano that was created for the very special world of Elton John where its bark is as good as it’s bite.
Unfortunately J.S. Bach,which was the first half of today’s programme is music based on the song and the dance.
This instrument,though, was created for a quite different song and dance act based on amplification and mechanical reproduction to satisfy the thousands of fans that flock to Elton John’s concerts.
I have heard Victor Maslov play many times and although still only in his early twenties he has an enviable curriculum.
Starting as a child in Moscow at the Gnessin Special School,taught by his mother Olga Maslova .
He later became a scholar of the Vladimir Spivakov Foundation.Masterclasses with Dmitry Bashkirov and now completing his advanced studies with Dmitri Alexeev at the RCM.
It is nice to see that he became one of the first Eileen Rowe Musical Trust Award Holders.
Miss Rowe was a remarkable teacher in Ealing who dedicated her life to the children in her care.

Ilya Kondratiev and Andreas with Victor Maslov
She even left all her worldly goods to create this fund for exceptionally talented but needy young musicians of which Victor is a beneficiary.
As a student together with Katherine Stott,Daniel Salamon and many others we would help her prepare her numerous young students for their piano exams in her house that was full of pianos in every room.

Ilya Kondratiev Linn Rothstein,Canan Maxton,Andreas and Victor Maslov
Ilya Kondratiev who like Victor is also helped by Talent Unlimited of Canan Maxton came to hear his colleague having played in this very room some years ago.
Victor Maslov will play Rachmaninov’s 3rd Concerto in the Queen Elisabeth Hall on the 2 July with the Orchestra of the RCM in a special showcase concert in one of the major halls in London.
It was in fact Rachmaninov that made up a large part of Victor’s programme today.
The complete Etudes Tableaux op 39 and the arrangement of the Bach suite from the Partita n. 3 fro violin BWV 1006.
The Bach Toccata in E minor BWV 914 that opened the programme immediately showed his transcendental technique and musicianship to the full.The rhythmic energy and his total command allowed us to enjoy certain aspects of this rarely played piece.The layers of colour and different registers of sound were just not possible to fully convey on this rather bright instrument.
The Rachmaninov transcription of the Violin Suite fared better as the slight retouches to the original Bach score allowed more use of the pedals and added a more sumptuous sound.The Menuet was played with great charm and added a brief respite from the more rhythmic knotty twine of the outer movements.
This opened the way to the world of Rachmaninov with his Etudes Tableaux op 39.
A technical command that knows no difficuties and a sense of style that is in his Russian blood.
From the very first notes we were carried away by the sheer sweep of the first study.A range of orchestral sounds from the deep bass to the tender treble.The second study revealed a beautiful cantabile thanks to his very careful sense of balance leading to a startling climax dissolving magically to end this little tone poem.
A great call to arms in the 3rd study of transcendental virtuosity with enormous sonorities that dissolved to almost a whisper tinged with that typical Rachmaninovian nostalgia .
The 4th study could have been more playful and seemed rather too ‘serioso’ to contrast with the passionate declamations of the famous E flat minor study n.5. His great sense of balance allowed the melodic line to sing out gloriously ,even on this piano, above the most passionate outpourings.
The absolute clarity of the scary “ Red Riding Hood” study n.6 led to the sonorous brooding harmonies and pealing bells of the 7th with its insistent repeated notes.
Victor was able to find a beautiful delicate legato for the double notes of the pastoral like 8th study similar to op 10 n.10 of Chopin.It led to the final call to arms of the 9th study.
Great sonorities and orchestral sounds were magically drawn from this piano that I am sure was not used to the transcendental pianism of this young Russian virtuoso.
A wake up call indeed on this beautiful Sunday morning.

Tyler Hay pays homage to a Genius

Tyler Hay pays homage to a Genius
I remember in my youth Sir John Barbirolli taking under his wing three young stars :Janet Baker,Jaqueline Du Pre and John Ogdon and helping them to shine as only he could have done.
Unforgettable recordings of The Sea Pictures with Janet Baker,the Elgar concerto with Jaqueline Du Pre and the Tchaikowsky concerto and Cesar Franck Symphonic Variations with John Ogdon.Later Daniel Barenboim joined this elite group as he was joined for life with Jaqueline Du Pre.
A golden era that will never be forgotten.

The New CD of original works by John Ogdon played by Tyler Hay
John Ogdon had studied with Gordon Green in Manchester and became part of an exciting  group of young composers that included Harrison Birtwistle and Peter Maxwell Davies.He was able to read at sight the most difficult scores and premiered many of their works.
He was a piano genius.
A giant in every sense who went on to take the Tchaikowsky Gold Medal on the Russian’s own soil.Their star pianist Vladimir Ashkenazy tied for the medal much to the surprise of a world that was looking on in astonishment.

First page of the Sonata dedicated to Stephen Bishop
His talent was indeed superhuman and it was the weight of this talent that became too much for a single mind to bear.We watched on in alarm as his behaviour became more and more erratic leading inevitably to a total breakdown.
Only those that were close to him could have known what torment his genius had given him.
It has taken a young pianist,Tyler Hay to discover in the archives of the Royal Northern College the manuscripts of over 200 original works by Ogdon himself.
He has now brought a selection of them to life on a new CD .
It was today that he presented for the Park Lane Group at St Martin in the Fields the mamoth Sonata in three movements dedicated to Stephen Bishop – Kovacevich.
A large scale work in three movements as Tyler rightly says influenced by Prokofiev and Scriabin.
Great clusters of notes and enormous sonorities in the first movement.
A slow movement with whispering trills high up on the keyboard.
A final movement that even Tyler admitted scared the life out of him for the transcendental difficulty of the piano writing.
A lunchtime audience that listened in total silence as the relentless forward movement of the performance completely overwhelmed them.
A quite remarkable tour de force from a young man who I had heard just a few weeks ago give a masterly performance of Schubert on an historic Erard piano from the Cobbe collection at Hatchlands.
A short “sorbet” of Liszt.
With a shimmering performance of the “Jeux d’eau a la Villa d’Este” from his newly released CD.
It paved the way for a scintillating Rhapsody in Blue by Gershwin.
The same extraordinary virtuosity that he had demonstrated in the Ogdon now put at the service of this sumptuous showpiece full of the spicy jazz idioms that have made it an evergreen favourite.
It was the great teacher Nadia Boulanger who turned Gershwin away from her class in Paris saying that she did not want to ruin his quite unique natural talent.
A sparkling crystal clear performance of a Scarlatti Sonata in B minor brought this extraordinary recital to an end.
Greeted by many of the public afterwards and even offered the possibility of a concert at the Shalin Liu Performance Centre in Massachusetts such was the impact of his performances on the public today.

friends and admirers from the Liberal club and the Park Lane Group

admirers from a cruise ship where he had performed making a special journey from Reading for today’s concert

admirers from Massachusetts

admirers from Toulouse

the mighty facade of St Martin in the Fields

Umberto Jacopo Laureti at St Mary’s

Such a busy week in the sweltering heat of Rome that only now can I listen to the recital streamed live from Perivale.
I had asked Umberto and Hugh Mather if they could leave it on line for a few days to give me a chance to catch up.
Whilst Umberto was playing in London his teacher from the Accademia di S.Cecilia in Rome,Benedetto Lupo, was holding his recital diploma final recitals.
Umberto did this last year whilst he was also studying for a Doctorate in Busoni at the Royal Academy in London.
I had heard Umberto play for the University in Rome a programme dedicated to Italian piano music.Some of which we heard today in Perivale

Paul Tortelier looking on as the concert from Perivale was streamed to Rome
Little did Umberto know that he was playing under the vigilant eye of Paul Tortelier!
Not only is Umberto a magnificent pianist but also a very sensitive intellectual who has delved deep into the works he plays.
Hardly surprising as he comes from the school of two master musicians: Benedetto Lupo in Rome and Ian Fountain in London.
The Respighi Ancient Airs and Dances , better known in the orchestral version ,were described as almost Busoni type transcriptions.
Busoni with hints of Grainger and Vaughan Williams I would say.
Some remarkable feats of piano playing in his use of finger legato and very scarse use of the pedals.
Great sonorities too when needed but it was the refined clarity that he was able to produce that was quite astonishing.
Still two hands at the beginning of the Chopin Barcarolle!
He has almost convinced me that artistically it is absolutely right.
Why Chopin did not write it is a mystery!
Once the gondoler had floated out to calmer waters the beautiful continuous melodic invention was spun with great poetry.
The passion of a young man and not the simplicity of a man already consumed by disease though.
It was interesting that in the introduction to Beethoven op 109 Umberto pointed out that the link between Chopin and Beethoven was their need in their last years to sing rather than astonish or take by storm.
It was this extreme cantabile that was so overwhelming in a work we have heard so many times.
The first movement was pure song .One that had begun long before we could overhear it.
The second movement, too, usually so violently contrasted lost none of its energy and rhythmic precision. It had though a sound reminiscent of the Erard that I had found so sweet sounding in the Schubert Sonata that Tyler Hay played a week ago.
The aristocratic sense of song in the last movement was linked also to a sense of equilibrium and control that in moments of abandon created an almost unbearable tension.
Released only in the long trills that are such a trade mark of the last sonatas of Beethoven.
A winding up and gradual release of tension.
A man with a soul that was on the edge of desperation and frustration as he inhabited ever more his world of total silence.
The celestial sounds only he could experience and try to decribe to us mortals with paper and pen.
It was interesting to know that Busoni wrote his Toccata in exile in Switzerland during the first world war.
Drawn all his life between Italy and Germany now he had to suffer also the strain of war.
All this is in his Toccata that received a superb performance.
His” party piece” as Benedetto Lupo told me.
And very remarkable it is too.
Every bit as remarkable as that of Serkin who played it in London many years ago together with the last Sonata of Beethoven and Reger Theme and Variations.
Those were the days when Rachmaninoff 3 and Prokofiev 2 were still on the horizon for a chosen few who could master notes.
Real intellect and study were in the hands of masters like Serkin and Kempff .
Bravo Umberto for shining a light on an ever more predictable piano scene.

Dudamel in Rome – The Joy of Music

Dudamel in Rome with the Orchestra of the Accademia di S.Cecilia……
Beethoven Egmont
Symphonies 4&7
The joy of music was written all over his face and his humility to be one of the boys in the band.
He refused to mount the podium once his job was done.
Obviously the orchestra loved him as did the audience.
What he lacks in refinement he makes up for with his infectious love for music.
Real Latin temperament that favours the drums rather than the distilling of rarefied sounds.
Ten years at the helm of the Los Angeles Philharmonic have put them on the map so the PR boys chant in the programme.
Maybe they forgot Giulini who was there in his final glorious years before moving back to Milan!
Some silver sheen to the curly mop that took the world by storm with his Bolivar Orchestra with their gloriously outragious S.American music and attire.
Discovered by Abbado in Venezuela and invited to Europe.
When they arrived in Rome for the first time,the aristocratic season ticket audience went crazy for them.
Lights off.
A quick change into track suits and they were throwing their instruments in the air whilst playing!
Certainly not the refined music making in dress suits that we were used to!
This is the raw music making of the exilarating discovery of music rather than the rough dangerous world on the streets.
A passion and something to strive for that is far removed from the hunger and crime that was their birthright.
I was at a party in London when they were invited for the first time to the proms.
Some of the guests were coming on after the concert.
One of them the leader of the LSO.
Well they arrived at the party with such wondrous tales and such exilaration.

Sala S.Cecilia Rome
Dudamel and his band of the Experiment had spun their web and taken London by storm.
The spell was set and now in middle age the same wondrous joy of music making has remained in tact.
When you come from such a deprived background your fairy godfather you never forget.

Benedetto Lupo’s final Diploma recitals for the Accademia di S.Cecilia in Rome

Benedetto Lupo’s final diploma recitals of the Corso di Perfezionamento in Rome
Some great piano playing from the final diploma concerts of the class of Benedetto Lupo for the Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia.
Nice to see Andrea Padova as one of the judges.
Some very fine playing from 20 year old Francesco Granata His beautifully relaxed arms and agile fingers brought the two Scarlatti sonatas to life with some magical phrasing and dynamics.
Strange fingering in the B minor but what enjoyment he was transmitting.
Schumann Carnaval and above all Mussorgsky “Pictures” showed of his beautifully wide ranging sound palette.

Francesco Granata greeted by an admirer after his recital
Always beautiful sounds due to his completely natural technical mastery.
As he matures he will allow the music to speak more naturally and simply and not feel he has to “do things”as Brendel would say.
Matteo Londero at 30 has a more mature musicianship.
Some very solid playing with some really sumptuous colours in Prokofiev 2nd Sonata.
Some beautiful things in the Schumann 8th Novelette but I would have not have stopped after each section but tried to join as one .
Not having the same flexibility as Granata but some very refined serious musicianship.He also brought great weight to his “Waldstein” sonata.
Axel Trolese had both the flexibility of Granata and the solid musicianship of Londero.
He also had that sense of fantasy that allowed him to whisper and roar when needed.

Matteo Londero with Francesco Granata
Just what was needed for the beautiful opening of Beethoven`s op 27 n.1 …..the poor relation of the so called “Moonlight”‘.
Here it was treated as the great work it was in the hands of Arrau or Cherkassky.
Beautifully played the three pieces that make up Albeniz Iberia.
A great sense of balance and delicacy allied to a rhythmic precision which is so essential in these evocative tone poems.

Axel Trolese
I have heard his Chopin B minor Sonata a month ago in Benedetto’s class concert and Axel rose to the occasion today and was awarded the highest honours.
Speaking to Costanza Principe afterwards I told her about Axels Chopin and how I hoped he might slow it down a bit.
“Lucky him who can play so well” was her just reply.

Costanza Principe applauding her colleagues .Her turn will come next year
The set pieces by Fabio Vacchi played with the score showed off the digital and fantasy of each pianist.
Crisp and clean from Granata,more.cerebral and deep from Londero and full of colour and fantasy from Axel.
Three full recitals from very fine pianists endowed with the musical values that Benedetto Lupo has so generously shared in their time together at the Accademia in Rome.

Matteo Londero

Axel Trolese

Francesco Granata

Ivan Moshchuk did not play todayl

Sala Sinopoli in Rome Parco della Musica

Andrea Padova – left Benedetto Lupo – right