George Todica at St Mary’s-Duality and Transformation

George Todica a concert in collaboration with the Keyboard Charitable Trust

Tuesday 10 November 4.00 pm

Streamed LIVE concert in an empty church

George Todica (piano)

Chopin: Rondo à la Mazur op 5

Chopin: Mazurka in C# minor Op 41 no 4

Enescu: ‘Choral’ and ‘Carillon Nocturne’ from Suite no 3 Op 18

Rachmaninov: Variations on a theme by Corelli Op 42

very assured and deeply felt introductions mirrored by equally moving playing

Born in Iasi in 1993, he started his musical training when he was six, under the guidance of Silvia Panzariu. He went on attending the Octav Bancila School of Arts, later joining the classes of Raluca Panzariu and then Andrei Enoiu-Panzariu, and having lessons outside of school with pianist Iulian Arcadi Trofin. George came to the United Kingdom in 2010, after winning the ‘Constantin Silvestri’ Scholarship which allowed him study for one year at the Stewart’s Melville College in Edinburgh. A year later he entered the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland where he would study for the next six years, under the guidance of Graeme McNaught, Norman Beedie and Jonathan Plowright. He finished his Bachelor Degree in 2015 with First-Class Honours and his Masters Degree in 2017. His training was supported by two scholarships from the RCS, scholarships from The Tillet Trust and The Colin Keer Trust and a ‘Britton Award’ from Help Musicians UK. After a recent successful audition, he has been chosen for the Tillett Young Artist Platform scheme for 2017.George had his Wigmore Hall debut in October 2018 as a Tillett Trust Young Artist, and his competition success includes first prizes at the Norah Sande Award in England, the Llangollen International Eisteddfod in Wales, ‘Stefano Marizza’ Piano Competition in Italy, the Moray Piano Competition in Scotland, 2nd prize at the International Piano Campus Competition in France, as well as the Ligeti prize and the prize for the best performance the contemporary work for piano and orchestra and 3rd Prize at the International Piano Competition Istanbul.

He completed his studies in 2019 with his Artist’s Diploma at the Royal College of Music in London under the guidance of Norma Fisher

As a concert pianist, he has travelled to various venues in Italy, Austria, Croatia and the USA and has performed in prestigious halls such as the Teatro San Giuseppe in Torino, the Philharmonic Hall in Trento, the Mozarteum Concert Hall in Salzburg, the Fazioli Factory in Sacile, the Conservatoiro Tartini di Trieste and the Dôme de Pontoise in France. In the past few years, George has also been playing in the UK at the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, the Edinburgh Society of Musicians, the Brunton Theatre in Edinburgh, the Erin Arts Centre on the Isle of Man, the Hall at Yamaha Music London, Inverness Town Hall, the Ardkinglas Castle in Argyll, and various other venues. He has performed with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra playing Saint-Saëns’s Carnival of the Animals and in the All About Piano Festival in London at the Institut Français du Royaume-Uni and at St. Martin-in-the-Fields.

A fascinating recital by this young Romanian pianist for the past ten years living in the UK – first on a special scholarship to a boarding school in Edinburgh and from there to the Glasgow conservatory and finally to London.His fiancée is the singer Charlotte Hoather – two attempts at marriage have been ruined by the Covid crisis but in the meantime they intend to share their music and unite their comunity

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 ‘This Friday marked our fourth balcony concert, and it has been a real joy to sing to my neighbours and friends online alongside George. Despite being limited to our own home for a few weeks now, it has been a breath of fresh air to feel close to the lovely people who live near me. I feel connected to a bigger community, a neighbourly relationship that I reminded me of my childhood.’ Obviously a match made in heaven!

A programme of Chopin, Enescu and Rachmaninov so eloquently introduced by this young artist.

These first two works by Chopin are inspired by the Mazurka.The Rondo à la Mazur op 5 written when only 16 and for his own purpose to play in the salons of the day.This is an early work of brilliance and lyricism ,naive and immature but full of youthful energy and enthusiasm. Chopin would have astonished his audiences in Poland before moving to Paris at the age of 20 from where he was never to return.His heart though was returned after his death to his native Poland from where it had never really left.His bodily remains were buried in Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris.

And it was the mature mazurka op 41 n.1 in C sharp minor where his youthful enthusiasm was replaced with majesty and solemnity,pride and wisdom.As George so wisely stated it was a mazurka that’ thinks before it talks!’ What a wonderful turn of phrase indeed.

There was a great sense of style as he threw off the continuous chain of jeux perlé notes with an ease and sense of shape that was charming as it was brilliant.An irresistible sense of belcanto too in the beautiful lyrical sections.Some truly magical moments with trills that gleamed like jewels in the web of sound that he so magically conjured with such nonchalance.Every note became so fibrantly alive as he brought this somewhat shallow work to life with the same yearning nostalgia that was to pervade Chopin’s later works.There was though a youthful exhuberance that was nowhere to be seen in his later years long from his homeland and the concert hall.

There were some wonderful changes of colour in the Mazuka op 41.The same yearning nostalgia played with a more masculine delicacy.A truly heartbreaking duet between the hands leading so gently back to the original dance rhythms and an exquisite coda dying away into the distance.

The middle part of the recital was dedicated to two movements from George Enescu’s 3rd Suite op 18 for piano.Enescu is not only George’s compatriot but also he confided his idol.He is not the only one either:Pablo Casals described Enescu as “the greatest musical phenomenon since Mozart” and “one of the greatest geniuses of modern music.  Yehudi Menuhin, Enescu’s most famous pupil, once said about his teacher: “He will remain for me the absoluteness through which I judge others,he gave me the light that has guided my entire existence.” He considered Enescu “the most extraordinary human being, the greatest musician and the most formative influence” he had ever experienced.

Choral was inspired by the orthodox liturgy- almost a prayer as George described it .A confession of sin ,redemption and forgiveness.It was played with some wondrous sounds from every part of the keyboard.A musical language that fits no specific category but is strangely hypnotic and obviously for George at the very roots of his being.An ending of pure magic barely whispered as it disappeared into the very heights of the piano.

To be awoken by the bells of Carillon resonating and almost Messiaenic in its moving dissonance.Whispered responses from the faithful answered by the bells.A wonderful use of the sustaining pedal gave great resonance to the ever vibrating bells.Ringing out a final 12 times – each time slightly different with whispered responses arriving on the final major chord – transformed and redeemed!A very moving performance that I would love to hear more often in the concert hall.

The final work was the Rachmaninov Corelli Variations.Written in 1931 and based on a mediaeval melody La Folia that Corelli had used for a set of variations in 1700. Rachmaninov injects the very essence of Russian romanticism into it as he extracts as much substance as he can creating a real metamorphosis in the course of his 20 variations.

Rachmaninoff dedicated the work to his friend the violinist Fritz Kreisler. He wrote to another friend, the composer Nikolai Medtner on 21 December 1931:I’ve played the Variations about fifteen times, but of these fifteen performances only one was good. The others were sloppy. I can’t play my own compositions! And it’s so boring! Not once have I played these all in continuity. I was guided by the coughing of the audience. Whenever the coughing would increase, I would skip the next variation. Whenever there was no coughing, I would play them in proper order. In one concert, I don’t remember where – some small town – the coughing was so violent that I played only ten variations (out of 20). My best record was set in New York, where I played 18 variations. However, I hope that you will play all of them, and won’t “cough”.

The theme La Folia was played with graet delicacy and sense of colour.A great sense of balance in the first variation allowed the melody to emerge amongst the embellishments with gentle comments from the bass.Legato and staccato were perfectly matched in the second and there was already magic in the air in the fourth with a wonderful sense of line.Scintillating virtuosity in the following variations leading to the booming bass of the 7th with cascades on notes above.Typical haunting harmonies of the ninth led to the extreme rhythmic precision of the tenth.A great sense of architectural shape in the eleventh that is usually just hammered home by lesser mortals.

Deep staccato notes alternated with meltingly pleading fragments and the Intermezzo had some startling cadenza like passages thrown of with a brilliance and lightness leading to the theme in the major key.It drifted so naturally into the most hauntingly mellifluous of the variations very similar to one of his preludes from op 32.The gradual reawakening to the final triumphant appearance of the sun had with some transcendental playing of great assurance in the final three variations.A small blemish was immediately and expertly covered as we approached the final piu mosso explosion of sounds.Left only with the reverberating bass ‘D’ and ‘the ashes’ as we are left in complete desolation and wonderment not least at the remarkable performance that we were offered by this young Romanian pianist.

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