Tuesday 9 June 4.00 pm
Streamed ‘live’ concert in an empty church
Amit Yahav (piano)
A Chopin recital :
Polonaise-Fantaisie Op 61
Nocturne in B flat minor Op 9 no 1
Nocturne in F Minor Op 55 no 2
Scherzo no 1 in B Minor Op 20
Mazurka in C sharp minor Op 6 no 2
Mazurka in F minor Op 7 no 3
Waltz in A flat Op 34 no 1
Ballade no 4 in F Minor Op 52
Multi-award-winning pianist Amit Yahav is much in demand as a recitalist, chamber musician and concerto soloist, having earned his reputation for interpretations that grip and move audiences with passion and intellectual insight. His interpretations of the music of Chopin and Schumann in particular have received high praise. Alongside his performing career, Amit also conducted research into Chopin with the generous support of the Royal College of Music’s Polonsky Award. In performance, Amit’s interpretations are historically informed, and often made accessible to the audience by spoken introductions which place the works in a historical, social and cultural context. Amit is keen to programme well-known and loved repertoire along lesser-known works. Amongst Amit’s success are the Anthony Lindsay Piano Prize, the Special Jury Prize at the Northwood-Ruislip Concerto Competition, the György Solti Award for Professional Development , and the Brooks-van der Pump Pianist Prize at the Royal College of Music. Amit also won the 1st International Israeli Music Competition in London and consequently performed Zvi Avni’s On the Verge of Time in London’s Southbank Centre in the presence of the composer.In 2014, Amit released his newest CD “ Amit Yahav Plays Chopin “, containing the four Ballades alongside the 2 Polonaises op.26 and the C# Minor Scherzo op.39. This release follows Amit’s tour showcasing the four Ballades in an explained recital, which was selected by the Royal College of Music as part of their Insight Series of soirees offered to their donors. In 2018, he earned a Doctor of Music degree for his thesis investigating interpretation in the music of Chopin.
In the meanwhile, however, the music cannot and must not stop; the stages must not be left empty. I am very grateful to Hugh Mather for his indefatigable efforts. It is always a pleasure to be able to play at St. Mary’s Perivale, the church that has become West London’s greatest little concert hall. Today, sharing music with you from this very special venue is an honour and I do hope that many of you will be able to tune in to the live broadcast and make me feel like you are there.
And Hugh Mather replied after the concert:
“A fantastic LIVE piano recital by Amit Yahav this afternoon at St Mary’s Perivale. A delightful all-Chopin programme. Slightly strange without an audience but very satisfying nonetheless. And about 200 viewers (inc Amit’s family in Israel) have seen his recital online so far.”
And so it is that music will out.No matter the disasters and calamities that befall the world music will always find a way to enter our lives. It enters a secret territory that we have a need of.It reaches places where words are just not enough.Some people might even call it our ‘soul’It has taken only three months from the last concert in London on the 17th March (https://christopheraxworthymusiccommentary.wordpress.com/2020/03/17/the-last-recital-luka-okros-at-st-johns-smith-square/) to arrive via various desperate home attempts at hausmusik , at the formula of live music streamed into our homes wherever that may be in the world. Hats off to Hugh Mather and his team who were one of the first to continue concerts even in lockdown with Teatime Classics from their archive of over 400 performances to choose from.Realising that these young artist had not only lost a platform and in a sense their raison d’etre but also any source of income.The artists were paid for their archive recordings.With the official opening up of the Wigmore Hall live streamed BBC Lunchtime recitals from the 1st of June Dr Mather, ever vigilant to respect the self distancing rules that have become so necessary, felt free to do likewise at his mecca in Perivale.
And so it was today not only lunchtime with Hyeyoon Park and Benjamin Grosvenor at the Wigmore( https://christopheraxworthymusiccommentary.wordpress.com/2020/06/10/hyeyoon-park-and-benjamin-grosvenor-live-at-the-wigmore-hall/)but also a Chopin recital by Amit Yahav for tea!A magic carpet that took me and many others from one concert hall to another.
A beautifully shaped all Chopin programme within a framework of two of his last and most profound works: the Polonaise Fantasie op 61 and the Fourth Ballade op 52.With a substantial filling of two nocturnes op 9 and 55 and mazurkas op 6 and 7; the first Scherzo op 20 and the scintillating waltz op 34 n.1 .Infact in just one hour of music a complete panorama of the magic world of Chopin.It is hardly surprising to read that in 2018, he was awarded a Doctor of Music degree for his thesis investigating interpretation in the music of Chopin.
A beautiful shape to the opening of the Polonaise Fantasie,the arch of his left hand poised to await the arrival of the magic wave of sounds created by the right.There was a great architectural shape to the work with a forward movement that allowed for all the nostalgic nobility without any sentimentality.A beautifully shaped central section with some poignant counterpoints that glistened from the left hand leading to a magical return of the opening waves of sound after some truly majestic trills.A heroic ending played with all the aristocratic nobility of one of Chopin’s greatest and most original works.
There was a beautiful sense of balance in the hauntingly simple musings of this first of Chopin’s nocturnes.The first performance I ever heard was on a piano roll by Josef Lhevine in the archive from the Brentford piano museum just down the road from Perivale. The same haunting nostalgia has remained with me all these years and it was from Amit’s mellifluous hands that I was so poignantly reminded.The nocturne op 55 n.2 in F minor was the favourite of Shura Cherkassky who played it in a much more serene and fantastically coloured way than Amit.I found his performance just a shade too fast to allow full range to the fantasy of the final flowing arpeggios that pass like the wave of sound that he had found so perfectly in the Polonaise Fantasie.
The central work of the recital was the tempestuous first Scherzo in B minor op 20 .Amit played it with great passion and precision and brought a beautiful contrasting stillness to the simple Polish folk melody that Chopin quotes in the central section.The return to the tempest and coda were played with technical assurance and great excitement.The two early Mazurkas were played with all the infectious dance rhythms and contrasts of Chopin’s nostalgia for his beloved homeland.And the Waltz op 34 n.1 was played with all the ‘joie de vivre’ and infectious gaiety of one of his most joyous waltzes.One that Rubinstein loved to play as an encore with great final elan in his many all Chopin recitals.
The fourth Ballade in F minor op 52 is like the Sonata in B minor by Liszt and the Schumann Fantasy op 17 one of the pinnacles of the romantic piano repertoire .Amit gave an impeccable performance from the beautifully liquid opening as though a door had just been opened leading to the purity of sound that he found for the theme.A control and intellectual understanding that did not preclude some exquisite playing.From the return of the opening and the magical cadenza to the sumptuous lead up to the passionate final triumph of such a seemingly simple melody.After the five calming chords a coda of great technical assurance but shaped liked the true musician he revealed himself to be today.