Vitaly Pisarenko conquers St Mary’s

Vitaly Pisarenko at S Mary’s
I have heard Vitaly Pisarenko many times as you can see from the various things I have written in the past.But each time one listens to a real artist it is a voyage of discovery.
I remember Rubinstein,Arrau or Curzon distilling their once vast repertoire to the works with which they had become irretrievably attached in a life time of music making.
I listen regularly on streaming to Dr Hugh Mather’s series of superb young musicians but there is nothing like a live performance where true artists are concerned.
It was this very magic that was in the air from the very first notes of the 12 German Dances D 790 by Schubert.
So often in lesser hands these works can sound rather dry and uninspired but not today!
From the very first notes there was a subtle Viennese charm and lilt to the dances with some astonishing changes of colour and character.
Every dance like the Mazurkas of Chopin were miniature tone poems full of subtle poetry, mystery and where necessary an irresistible “joie de vivre.”

Linn Rothstein in discussion with Vitaly before the concert
An audience totally mesmerised by the sheer beauty of a piano that they had heard many times under many different hands.
But the colours and gloss to the sound today were quite unique and showed an amazing control and an ultrasensitive ear to balance.
The G flat impromptu drifted in without a pause on a wave of glorious sound.The cantabile of this most beautiful of all Schubert’s Impromptus was something to cherish with the continual outpouring of sounds of pure gold.
So beautifully shaped every note could have had a different word like the sublime lieder of this master of song.
The fourth Impromptu too floated in with glistening liquid arpeggios commenting on the subdued melodic line.His superb sense of legato allowed us to overhear so perfectly the whispered sounds of the delicately shaped long lines.
The two Polonaises op 26 by Chopin were played with a magical cantabile and a flexible beat
that was sometimes almost too free.
But it was a Chopin bathed in such a sumptuous sound from which all the wondrous invention of a Chopin in exile from his homeland was allowed to flow so naturally.The mysterious opening of the E flat minor Polonaise immediately captured the attention and the mazurka middle section played with a complete change of colour and an almost orchestral non legato contrasting so poignantly with the mysterious liquid sounds that enveloped it and brought this extraordinary work to its melting conclusion.

Linn Rothstein with one of the amazing members of this extraodinary venue.At 97 she had been a member of Bletchley Park,with Alan Turing and the Enigma Code.The once top secret home of the World War Two Codebreakers.She translated Hitler’s will!And also made the cakes offered to today’s public with tea.
The Third Ballade op 47 brought the first half of this full length recital to a fitting end.
It is the most pastoral and serene of the four ballades and is a new addition to Vitaly’s repertoire.
It will eventually become even more simple but it was bathed in a sound world that created a wondrous cloud for the endless poetic invention of this most subtle of Chopin’s works.The continual forward movement allowed a clarity of melodic line that created a whole from the beginning to the last note.The gradual build up to the passionate final outpourings was quite masterly and had the audience cheering at the end of this exhilarating performance.
The second half began with a performance of Schumann’s Fantasiestucke op 12.
I have heard him play this work many times.
It brought tears a few years ago to Janina Fialkowka’s eyes.
It has been distilled after many performances to such a degree that each piece is so full of colour and character it reminds me of Rubinstein holding us in his magical hands in his final performances after a lifetime of living with this extraordinary work.
From the liquid sounds on which floats the melody as if from afar in “In the Evening”, to the great passionate outbursts via a continual question and answer of great romantic fervour in “Soaring”.
The supreme sense of balance in “Why.”.A great sense of nostalgic dance of times past in “Whims” and the endless stream of seemless sounds in “In the Night.”A magical transition to the melodic middle section so reminiscent of Kresileriana.
The simple story telling of “Fable” with the rhythmic comments so delicately played and the absolute clarity and total technical assurance of “Dreams Confusion” that seemed to disappear in a puff of smoke.
Making way for the grandiloquence of the “Endof the Song” and the energetic dance leading to the gradual disintigration and heartfelt farewell to this dear friend.
A remarkable tour de force of interpretation through a total mastery of the instrument and an absolute supreme sense of control and balance.
The concert ended with two rarely played works by Liszt.
The Ballade n.1 in D flat .Almost Schumannesque in its opening leading to amazing feats of transcendental piano playing but with subtlety and ravishing sounds embellishing the continuous melodic line.
The Hungarian Rhapsody n.13 in A minor with its call to arms dissolving into a typical hungarian folk melody full of colour and a beguiling sense of rubato.
This was piano playing of refined artistry of an almost forgotten age.

And after performances like that what could you say!
I doubt this piano has ever sounded so magnificent as from the hands of this true magician.
The standing ovation and cheers from this very discerning audience rang out for quite some time in the hope there might be even more.
Like all great feasts one should always leave wanting more …………….so be it …there will be many other occasions in a lifetime of superb music making ahead.

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