Ariel Lanyi – The return of a star – The sublime Schubert of a master musician

The return of Ariel Lanyi- Sublime Schubert of a Master Musician
Scriabin: Sonata no 3 in Fsharp minor Op 23
Schubert: Sonata in D major D850
Ariel Lanyi, born in 1997, began piano lessons with Lea Agmon just before his fifth birthday and made his orchestral debut at the age of 7. Since then, he has given numerous recitals in cities such as London, Paris (including Hôtel des Invalides and Radio France), Rome, Prague, Brussels, and regularly in concerts broadcast live on Israeli radio and television. He has appeared as a soloist with a variety of orchestras in the United Kingdom and Israel, including the Israel Symphony Orchestra and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, and has participated in festivals such as the Israel Festival, Ausseer Festsommer, Bosa Antica Festival, Miami Piano Festival, the Ravello Festival, and the Young Prague Festival. As a chamber musician, he has appeared with members (including leading members) of the Prague Philharmonia, the Czech Philharmonic, the Berliner Philharmoniker, the Concertgebouw Amsterdam, and the Israel Philharmonic, among others.
In 2020, Ariel will appear in the Marlboro Festival. Ariel was awarded first prize at the 2017 Dudley International Piano Competition following a performance of Mozart’s Concerto in C minor, K. 491 in the final round, and in 2018, he was awarded the first prize in the Grand Prix Animato in Paris.Ariel studied at the High School and Conservatory of the Jerusalem Academy of Music, in the piano class of Yuval Cohen. He also studied violin and composition, and was concertmaster of the High School and Conservatory Orchestra. He has also received extensive tuition from eminent artists such as Leon Fleisher, Robert Levin, Murray Perahia, Imogen Cooper, Leif Ove Andsnes, Steven Osborne, and the late Ivan Moravec. Currently, he studies as a full scholarship student at the Royal Academy of Music in London with Hamish Milne and Ian Fountain. Ariel is a recipient of the Munster Trust Mark James Star Award and the Senior Award of the Hattori Foundation.
What can one add when you are swept away from the first to the last note by two works that I could not say are my favourites.
From the first robust ‘Drammatico’ of his beautifully full sounds in Scriabin from which the fragments of Scriabin’s romantic imagination come together little by little until he reaches the final explosion and passionate sweep of the ‘star.’
With the imposing octaves of the second movement dissolving to a liquid cantabile of such clarity.
The extreme beauty of the Andante where Ariel’s wondrous sense of colour and balance added to a fluidity of sound of great beauty allowed Scriabin’s magical sounds to float into the rarified air before leading into the Presto con fuoco and great passionate outbursts of the last movement.
Scriabin had been married to a young pianist, Vera Ivanovna Isaakovich, in August 1897 and he and his wife went to Paris, where he started to work on the new sonata. Scriabin is said to have called the finished work “Gothic”, evoking the impression of a ruined castle. Some years later however, he devised a different programme for this sonata entitled “States of the Soul”:First movement, Drammàtico: The soul, free and wild, thrown into the whirlpool of suffering and strife.Second movement, Allegretto: Apparent momentary and illusory respite; tired from suffering the soul wants to forget, wants to sing and flourish, in spite of everything. But the light rhythm, the fragrant harmonies are just a cover through which gleams the restless and languishing soul.Third movement, Andante: A sea of feelings, tender and sorrowful: love, sorrow, vague desires, inexplicable thoughts, illusions of a delicate dream.Finale, Presto con fuoco: From the depth of being rises the fearsome voice of creative man whose victorious song resounds triumphantly. But too weak yet to reach the acme he plunges, temporarily defeated, into the abyss of non-being.
All this was evoked today in the magical hands of this young Israeli pianist ,who is being coached by Ian Fountain ,the only british born pianist to have won the Rubinstein Competition and who is like Ariel a disarmingly reserved master musician.
But it was in the Schubert D major Sonata D.850 that Ariel’s great musicianship and technical command became startlingly apparent.
This is the most Beethovenian of Schubert’s 21 Sonatas (as the Mozart C minor concerto is the most Beethovenian of the 27) and it takes a very great musician to bring it to life.
It needs a forward unrelenting propulsion that is so much part of the world of Beethoven.
Even in the more lyrical sections there is an underlying energy like being on a great conveyer belt or wave that carries us forward.
Never missing however all the wondrous beauty that surrounds this unrelenting journey.
I have only heard this sonata played as today from Curzon or Perahia.
From the sense of rhythmic energy that seemed to bubble over with a great forward propulsion that would every so often burst into a lyricism without loosing the ever present undercurrent that sweeps all before it.
The charming lilt to the ‘con moto’ where the interchange of melodic line from the right hand to the left was pure magic.
The delicate comments ornamenting the melodic line were quite sublime as this movement disappeared to a mere murmur before the wonderful sense of dance in the Scherzo.
There were such humourous comments after the rather serious almost pompous opening and a trio that had a subtle rubato and sense of style where each note spoke so eloquently.
His sense of dynamic control and colour meant that he could arrive at the end without any ritardando which was so startlingly right.
The Rondo was played like the charming clock work clock that it so vividly depicts.
It was played with an irresistible charm and childlike simplicity.The change to the minor was quite breathtaking.
There was indeed magic in the air as Schubert’s sublime lyrical invention suddenly entered on the tail of a great energetic outburst.
It is one of those moments like in the G major sonata where Schubert’s so called ‘sublime length’ was infact just that.
It was in Ariel’s sensitive but very masculine hands that this melodic outburst was so wonderfully shaped with such subtle rubato and colouring.
Seeming to barely touch the keys as he caressed such wondrous sounds out of a piano that rarely have we heard sound so beautiful.
I remember quite some years ago when my wife was playing Candida by Shaw in Rovigo in the Veneto region of Italy.
A little jewel of an opera house in the centre of this town and used for all types of culture.
We noticed that Murray Perahia was to give a recital a month later and we decided to return to hear him.
This was when he was just starting to play in Italy after winning the Leeds Competition.
He played the Chopin 4 Ballades , the Mozart D minor Fantasy and Schubert D Major Sonata.
It was an unforgettable performance.
We were in the square afterwards and saw the young man we had just admired so much coming towards us.
As I obviously looked as though I might speak English he had found himself, after this triumph, completely on his own and he had no idea where he could get something to eat!
Well, we were delighted to take him with us to eat and were overwelmed as much by his simplicity and humility as we had been by his performances.
Murray Perahia has since gone on to conquer the world and in the many masterclasses that I have attended his intelligence,humility and total dedication to the music have been as much of a surprise and his playing.
Each time he plays musicians invariably reach for their scores to discover the beauty that has been revealed from his hands in scores that they have lived with for a lifetime!
As Serkin said to Richard Goode :”You told me that he was good,but you did not tell me how good!”
Ariel too when he was invited to introduce the music today he did it with the same intelligence and humility that his playing revealed.
I very much look forward to his performance of the Brahms 2nd Piano Concerto at St James’s Piccadilly on the 27th February at 7.30.
A Concert for Israel .I am flying back from my home in Italy especially.
I am also very much looking forward to his Diabelli Variations ,at last, on the 23rd April at the Arts Club in Waterloo as winner of the Senior Award of the Hattori Foundation.
Hats of to Dr Hugh Mather, Roger Nellist and his team for allowing us to eavesdrop on a future star.

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