Luka Okros at St John’s Smith Square.
It was fitting that the last concert in London for the time being should be given over to such sublime music.
‘If music be the food of love ..play on……’
And this young poet’s love of music as shown by the sumptuous sounds and undemonstrative love for the piano was indeed a fitting way to pull the curtain for a period of uncertainty that awaits.
The streets deserted around Westminster and the Houses of Parliament as I made my way to hear Luka in his recital for the rush hour(sic) Bechstein Piano Series.
Just an hour of music on a wonderful sounding Bechstein piano in a series divided up amongst four of the most outstanding pianists of their generation.
Vadym Kholdenko,winner of the 2013 Van Cliburn Competition;Boris Giltberg,winner of the Queen Elisabeth Competition; Luka Okros ,winner of the Hong Kong ,Iturbi and Scottish Competitions;and in April hopefully the final in the series with Federico Colli,winner of the Leeds 2012 Competition founded by Dame Fanny Waterman who on Sunday will celebrate her 100th birthday as she takes up the reigns again after a brief enforced retirement!
Luka I have heard many times and as a student of Norma Fisher at the Royal College his musical pedegree has never been in doubt.
A stillness to the Adagio sostenuto of the so called Moonlight Sonata created a spell that lasted for the hour of music offered by the Bechstein Piano Series.
After the stillness and superb tonal control of the Adagio the Allegretto seemed a little breathless and could have been a little less serioso.The Presto agitato was played with great forward movement and if one or two details in the score were missing it was little price to pay for the superb sense of balance that allowed the melodic line to sing so naturally without any force.
Throughout the entire recital it was notable how the melodic line was exposed rather than forcing its way to the forefront.
His superb sense of balance and obvious love of the sublime sounds that this piano could make in his hands created a magic for the few brave souls that had ventured out in these difficult times.
An audience that had no idea at the beginning of the recital that they were assisting at the last public performance in London for the forseeable future!
The half moon shape around this most beautiful sounding instrument was also a poignant sign that we were in the presence of a true poet of the piano.
The single Brahms Intermezzo op 117 n.3 was played with such sumptuously rich sounds.Like the strings of the Philadelphia Orchestra under Ormandy!Pure velvet!
It was lovingly shaped with a heartbreaking sense of nostalgia and regret.Contrasting so well with the fleetingly evocative central section that led to an ending of movingly aristocratic sentiment.
The Schumann Fantasie op 17 was Schumann’s contribution to the Beethoven Monument in Bonn which was being organised by Franz Liszt.The Fantasie is dedicated to Liszt and is an outpouring of love for Schumann’s beloved future wife Clara.
It was lovingly shaped indeed and never over emphasised but given a natural voice that was so expressive.
The entry into the central section of the first movement, marked Im Legenden -Ton, was quite memorable.
The second movement was not always steady but he gave great shape to Schumann’s oft irritating dotted rhythms.
There was a radiant calm to the middle section and the trecherous coda was magnificently played ,integrated as is so rarely heard into the whole movement.
There was a magical link between the end of this movement and the Langsam getragen.
The outpouring of love for his adored Clara.
I remember Agosti writing in my score the two notes that signify Cla ra .
There was a slight variant to the sublime melody that floats on a wave of sumptuous sounds but I think it may be Luka, so involved, that he allowed his fantasy full reign too.
It was indeed a match of true love.
His musicianship was allied to his great sense of style and colour.
And it was no coincidence that the encore offered after a heartrending hommage to Clara by her husband should have been the ‘Poet Speaks'( from Kinderszenen op 15)
The first encore because by great demand he also played Rachmaninov’s Moment Musicaux op 16 n.4 in Eminor with glorious passion allied to rich voluptuous sounds.
Two little pieces followed full of washes of sound both passionate and delicate …..it sounded of Armenian flavour to me .
Luka corrected me afterwards as they were Georgian.
Two beautiful pieces by Luka himself who I read in the programme is a composerv who has created an album of his own compositions.
One of his pieces was filmed and premiered by Het Concertgebouw’s Sessions.Scores of his works are published by Master Music Publications (whose title says it all ).