Liszt comes to Perivale

The Liszt Society Annual Day and Competition

1.00 Recital by Corbin Beisner (1st prize in the 2018 competition)

Programme of Corbin Beisner today
Some superb playing from Corbin Beisner left no doubt about the standards that are expected from such experts as Leslie Howard,Mark Viner and Melvyn Cooper for the annual Liszt Society International Competition.
This year Corbin was invited on the jury to help seek outthe winner from the six superb pianists that had come from Italy, Russia,Korea and the UK to compete.
Corbin opened with a beautiful account of Beethoven’s rarely heard six variations on an original theme op 34.
A work that I have not heard since Richter played it in London.
It is the work that precedes the much better known Eroica Variations op 35.
It was strange that Corbin had played the theme in four instead of two but the moment that Beethoven wrote in the elaborate embellishments in the variations the music was allowed to flow so naturally in Corbin’s expert hands. A superb shape and dynamic range but above all a sense of style that left no doubt about Corbin’s remarkable musicianship.
It was obvious from the opening C sharp of the Chopin Barcarolle that here was a pianist who listens attently and plays with superb musicianship and sense of control.
It allowed Chopin’s outpouring of continuous song to flow with a pulse that ebbed and flowed with a very subtle sense of rubato.
Never exaggerating but allowing the music to speak so naturally.
Slightly more pedal would have given even more sheen to the melodic line but it was the absolute clarity and musical intelligence that was so refreshing to hear in a work that too often is reduced to a showpiece for virtuosi!
Of course we come to the Liszt Society to hear the enormous number of works that are very rarely or ever heard in the concert hall.
To be informed and entertained.
The only piece I have heard in the concert hall before in Corbin’s interesting programme was the first of the Valse Oubliées which is often played at as an encore.
Of course the mellifluous works of Liszt are much more accessable than the intellectual Busoni type works that abound in Liszt’s gigantic output .Here Corbin was an ideal interpreter of some of these lesser known works .They were played with an intelligence in totally convincing interpretations that made one, like contemporary scores, want to hear them all over again.
Liszt was like a shining beacon looking into the future and it is this Liszt that we have to thank a pioneer like Leslie Howard for bringing to the world’s attention.
It should also be pointed out that Leslie has recorded all the known works of Liszt in a series of 100 CD’s that has gained Liszt a notice in the Guinness book or records!
With all but one of the contestants we were then treated to some of the better known works of Liszt.
The Third book of Années de Pèlerinage and the fourth Mephisto Waltz was indeed a courageous programme for Stephen Gott from Yorkshire.
Other contestants chose the better known works of Liszt such as the Spanish Rhapsody,Dante Sonata,Bénédiction de Dieu dans la solitude,Variations on Weinen,Klagen,Sorgen,Zagen.St Francis walking on the waves or Feux Follets.
However as Leslie Howard said as he announced their final decision each contestant had played so well that it had created a magnificent day of music to the glory of Liszt.

Dr Hugh Mather welcoming the Liszt Society and Keyboard Charitable Trust to his beloved St Mary’s
I think our host Dr Hugh Mather agreed that it had been a memorable day for the many people present and also those ,like me ,tuning in to the excellent streaming system that is unique to any concert hall that I know.
Dr Hugh Mather had very spiritedly said in his welcoming introduction that after all this Liszt we would probably be craving for a Bach Prelude and Fugue or a bit of Mozart at the end of the day.
I think even Hugh would agree that such was the level and variety of music heard that on the contrary we were all quite exhilarated and satisfied at the end.
Liszt had won us all over thanks to the extraordinarily serious and learned work of the Liszt Society.
2.45 – 6.00 pm : The Liszt Society International Competition 2019
I have added some of my own personal observations that I made listening to this superb day of music making from the log fire blazing in the Italian countryside.
As they are exactly in line with the juries final assessment I add them here for those that may be interested to compare notes.
2.45 pm Svyatoslav Antipov

Svyatosalv Antipov
Ab irato – Etude de perfectionnement de la Méthode des méthodes, S143
Douze Études d’exécution trascendante, S139: 5: Feux-follets
Rapsodie espagnole – Folies d’Espagne et Jota aragonesa , S254 –
Some very fine playing from a born pianist.The precision of detail was not always evident though and sometimes it led to a lack of real rhythmic control especially in the Spanish Rhapsody.

3.15 pm Mario Cuva

Légendes, S175: 2: St. François de Paule marchant sur les flots
Rapsodie espagnole – Folies d’Espagne et Jota aragonesa , S254 .
Some very musicianly playing with a fine sense of control and intelligence.A great sense of drama brought the music vividly to life.
That last ounce of extra technical skill was missing in the more arduous parts of the Spanish Rhapsody where he very intelligently slowed down to accomodate the enormous difficulties that Liszt asks for.It led to a  loss of rhythmic tension that is so important and exhilarating in this work.
It is that tension that I will never forget that was created relentlessly by Emil Gilels in London years ago.
3.45 pm Stephen Gott

Années de pèlerinage – Troisième année – Italie, S163:
1: Angelus! Prière aux anges gardiens
2: Aux cyprès de la Villa d’Este – Thrénodie I
3: Aux cyprès de la Villa d’Este – Thrénodie II
Vierter Mephisto-Walzer, S696

Some fine musicianly playing of works that I have very rarely if ever heard .A more intellectual approach that did not quite ignite or convince.Hats off though for presenting such an adventurous programme and for such serious preparation.

4.25 pm Connor Heraghty-
Some very beautiful playing .Great control and technically accomplished.The Dante Sonata was give a very dramatic and vivid performance that was really totally convincing and quite remarkable

Schwanengesang – Vierzehn Lieder von Franz Schubert, S560: 7: Ständchen – Leise flehen
Années de pèlerinage – Deuxième année – Italie, S161: 7: Après une lecture de Dante – Fantasia quasi sonata

4.55 pm Minkyu Kim
A quite extraordinary sense of colour and balance was immediately apparent from the very first notes of the beautiful Hymn to St Cecilia A work that he convinced me should be more often played.
The Variations were played with a mastery that goes with a very early training that gives such  flexibility and freedom to express his remarkable musicianship without a moments doubt of his complete command of the keyboard.

Hymne à Sainte Cécile de Charles Gounod, S491
Variationen über das Motiv von J. S. Bach: Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen , S180

5.25 pm Connor Fogel
Looking like the Abbé Liszt with a frock coat and long hair he played most beautifully.
The ‘Bénédiction’ and the ‘Jeux d’eau’ were played with beauty and sensitivity.One did not quite feel that he was in total contact with the keys as Kim but he gave some very musical performancs that were much appreciated coming as they did at the end of almost four hours of music making today.

Harmonies poétiques et religieuses, S173:3: Bénédiction de Dieu dans la solitude
Années de pèlerinage – Troisième année – Italie, S163: 4: Les jeux d’eaux à la Villa d’Este

The distinguished jury Corbin Beisner Melvyn Cooper Leslie Howard Mark Viner

Leslie Howard announcing the winner Minkyu Kim (Korea) with second prize to the two Connors Heraghty(Hayes UK) and Fogel(Wales) and a special commendation for Mario Cuva (Sicily)

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