Mishka Rushdie Momen -In search of beauty – St Mary’s Live

Tuesday 16 June 4.00 pm

Streamed ‘live’ concert in an empty church

Mishka Rushdie Momen (piano)

Schumann: Impromptus on a theme by Clara Wieck Op 5
Mozart: Rondo in A minor K511
Scarlatti: Sonata in F minor K519
Schubert: Fantasie in C major D 760 ‘Wanderer’

Mishka Rushdie Momen studied with Joan Havill and Imogen Cooper at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and has also studied with Richard Goode and Sir Andras Schiff, who presented her in recitals in Zurich Tonhalle, New York’s 92Y, Antwerp deSingel, and several cities in Germany and Italy for his “Building Bridges” Series. A committed chamber musician whose partners have included Steven Isserlis, Midori, and members of the Endellion, Belcea, and Artemis String Quartets, she played in the Marlboro, Krzyzowa and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern Music Festivals and regularly participates in Open Chamber Music at the International Musicians Seminar in Prussia Cove, Cornwall. She has given solo recitals at the Barbican Hall, the Bridgewater Hall, St. John’s, Smith Square and major venues across the UK, as well as abroad in New York City, France, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Switzerland and India. Recent and future concerts include performances at Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall, Wigmore Hall and the Haydn Festival in Eisenstadt, Austria, and include world premieres of commissions by Nico Muhly and Vijay Iyer. Her debut solo recording, “Variations”, a recital disc of works by Robert and Clara Schumann, Brahms, Mendelssohn, Nico Muhly and Vijay Iyer, was released on the Somm label in October 2019. She is currently studying at the Kronberg Academy as part of the Sir András Schiff Performance Programme for Young Pianists. This study is funded by the Henle Foundation.

“Sublime  sounds  of ravishing beauty and delicacy”  as Dr Mather so eloquently expressed his appreciation of the recital by Mishka live streamed from an empty church in the beautiful setting of Ealing Golf Course.He and the tecnician were the only ones in the church to listen live like that other courageous venue the Wigmore Hall -which has opened it virtual doors to live music making too.There may only be two people in the hall but they are in company of  a vast audience worldwide of people in need of live music and a message from the heart to the heart as only music can provide.Words are not enough and it is music for those willing to appreciate it  that fills those cracks that have in these strange times been getting wider and wider.This is a new way of sharing music and both Wigmore Hall and Perivale have managed to perfect a system that so many musicians have been searching for from their homes in these past three month.

It was Imogen Cooper who played the day before her pupil Mishka at the Wigmore Hall.It was she after a very moving return to the Wigmore stage (where she had celebrated her 70th birthday last november with the last three sonatas of Schubert) had said that people needed the  message that Schubert and Janacek could offer and which joined  two such different composers together in the quest to send a message from the Heart to the Heart.


Mishka too had played with the cellist Steven Isserlis the week before at the Wigmore Hall where she was every bit an equal partner to this very distinguished cellist.A cellist who has much in common with that other very distinguished musician Sir Simon Rattle.Not only their very Beethovenian hair style but more importantly that burning desire to enter into the very spirit of the composer with a fire and energy that is mesmerising. https://christopheraxworthymusiccommentary.wordpress.com/2020/06/08/steven-isserlis-and-mishka-momen-rushdie-live-at-the-wigmore-hall/.Simon was in our class with Gordon Green  at the Royal Academy who would often exclaim how talented Simon was but oh how he wished he would practice the piano more!Simon had a burning desire to conduct and hours spent at the keyboard searching for that elusive perfection was not for him.

Mishka on the other hand has dedicated  her youth to searching for that perfection that allows the composers wishes to be turned into sound.Like her mentors Imogen Cooper and Andras Schiff she concentrates on what we know as the three B’s:Bach ,Beethoven ,Brahms which of course is a world that includes Schubert, Schumann and others.

The percussive  Russian school, so much in vogue these days ,is not for them.Artur Rubinstein used to have great discussions with his friend Mr Stravinsky trying to convince him that the piano was not just a percussion instrument but that in the right hands it could sing as well as any bird on the tree!Rubinstein comissioned a piece by Stravinsky and was appalled when he received his Ragtime music that he refused to play.Petroushka,though, was dedicated to him and he played it with the composers approval very much in his own unique way!


The Impromptus on a theme of Clara Wieck by Schumann opened the recital.From the first solo left hand notes one was aware of Mishka’s superb musicianship in the way she shaped this beautifully expressive opening.The scherzo type impromptus were played with fleeting lightness and Schumann’s somewhat tiresome dotted rhythms where shaped so beautifully and delicately as maybe Clara herself may have done.There were some sumptuous sounds in a work that already shows the seeds of his Symphonic Variations op 13.If it missed something of the passion and forward drive of Floristan  it was a small price to pay for such a beautiful Eusebian opening.

Beauty too in Mozart’s great masterpiece that is the Rondo in A minor.It was played with a simplicity and attention to detail that was quite exquisite.If Floristan was not allowed his full share of the stage it was because Mishka did not want to stir these magical waters with any other characters that might appear in Mozart’s miniature opera scene that he so clearly depicts.

It was in the Scarlatti Sonata that suddenly ignited the stage .A brilliant refined and subtle almost Mendelssohnian Sonata played with an infectious energy and lightness that was quite ravishing.

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Could it be that she had put her scores away and  felt ready now to throw herself into the fray.

Many artists have said how difficult it is to play to an empty hall knowing that there are cameras watching your every move .Both Paul Lewis and Imogen Cooper at the Wigmore Hall had used an I pad as an ‘aide memoire.’ So hats of to Mishka who threw caution to the wind as she plunged into Scarlatti and Schubert with the vigour and impetus that had been missing up until now.This is what live music is all about .The fact that anything could happen.Not only slight  blemishes which are of no importance when on the other side of the rainbow miracles begin to appear as much a surprise for the artist as for the audience.

Re- creation indeed that we have so much need of in these strange times.In Stephen Hough’s opening recital at the Wigmore Hall I had spoken exactly of this  reawakening of the senses.


She gave an exemplary performance of the Schubert Fantasie in C D.760.A work given to advanced students together with the 32 Variations of Beethoven and Brahms Handel Variations that have so many technical challenges but always with musical values of shape and colour to the fore .Not the stale exercises given to students in early days to train their fingers very often at the expense of their ears.Rubinstein used to practice them eating chocolates and reading novels.But once aquired at an early age one has fingers of steel but wrists of rubber and an orchestra of ten wonderful players that will do exactly what the heart and mind require.


And this was the wonderful orchestra that Mishka used with such refined intelligent musicianship.The Allegro con fuoco was restrained as Schubert asks in order to make the final explosion of the Allegro even more overwhelming.If she did not quite have the burning rhythmic impetus that she had found with Steven Isserlis she rose to all the quite considerable hurdles with great assurance .She shaped the most energetic passages with the same beautiful lyricism that she brought to the many sublime passages in the first movement in particular.The Adagio Wanderer theme was played so exquisitely and kept moving in 2 not 4 as the composer so clearly indicated. There was great passion and  delicacy and the final tremolandos were quite magical before the rude interruption of the Presto.She threw herself into the great flourishes  of this movement that created even more contrast with the beautiful lyrical central section.It led to the excitement of the final Fugato of the Allegro where her ease and naturalness as  she threw off the most technical challenges brought yet another of her superb recitals at St Mary’s  to a tumultuous end.

No encore ..their time was up …but it will live on in the memory, as Mitsuko Uchida says it should.It can also be heard though on the web site of St Mary’s Perivale together with an archive of over 400 performances from the past ten years.

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