Join pianist Sasha Grynyuk for his lunchtime performance as part of the Cranleigh Online performance! It will be available to watch live on Cranleigh Arts’ YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=80mnhPw4ADg.
Born in Kyiv, Ukraine, Sasha Grynyuk studied at the National Music Academy of Ukraine and later at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London with Ronan O’Hora. After graduation he benefited from the artistic guidance of such great musicians as Alfred Brendel and Murray Perahia. Sasha was described by legendary Charles Rosen as “an impressive artist with remarkable, unfailing musicality always moving with the most natural, electrifying, and satisfying interpretations”.
Winner of over ten International competitions, prizes and awards, Sasha was chosen as a ‘Rising Star’ for BBC Music Magazine and International Piano Magazine. His successes also include First Prizes in the Grieg International Piano Competition and the BNDES International Piano Competition, in addition to winning the Guildhall School of Music’s most prestigious award – the Gold Medal – previously won by such artists as Jacqueline Du Pré and Bryn Terfel.
L Beethoven Sonata No 18 in E flat
Major Op 31 No 3(22’)
Scherzo; Minuet; Presto con Fuoco
R Schumann “Faschingsschwank aus Wien” Op 26 (21’)
Romanze; Scherzo; Intermezzo
O Messiaen “Regard de l’esprit de
joie (from Messiaen – Vingt Regards Sur L’Enfant-Jesus) (9’)
As you can see from the articles below I have heard Sasha on many occasions, also recently at St Dunstan in the West in Fleet Steet in a recital of not only the Beethoven Sonata op 31 n.3 but also in duo with Beethoven’s mellifluous ‘Spring’ Sonata for violin and piano.Indeed it was an inspiring combination of two of Beethoven’s most pastoral of works full of sunshine and love of the rustic countryside.It is true that Beethoven’s Sonata op 28 written only a few months earlier is known as his Pastoral Sonata but this one too has a country flavour and is known as the Hunt because of the sound of the chase and horn calls in the galloping finale.
You can read about his performance of the Beethoven below but it should be noted that an artist like Sasha does not just reproduce a blue print performance but he lives and breaths the moment.Today he was in more sedate mood and played with all the aristocratic simplicity that Rubinstein brought to this work that was at the opening of the last recital of his life in 1976 in the Wigmore Hall.
This splendid new Shegaru Kwai piano at Cranleigh obviously allowed him to take a little more time so all the subtle pastoral phrasing of the duplets were allowed to speak for themselves like water bubbling over a brook.Every detail was perfectly in its place as he brought the score amazingly to life.
Michelangeli’s particular characteristic was his sparse use of the pedal only using it to add colour and not to hide one’s sins!It allowed Sasha to make the real difference between legato and staccato often within the same phrase.The final two chords of the first movement Sasha chooses again to play’ piano’ instead of the marked ‘forte’.It fits perfectly into the style of his performance but does Sasha know something we do not or is it just his very rare poetic licence? The Menuetto was played with rare aristocratic elegance with a timelessness that was truly Rubinstein’s .The Scherzo and Presto con fuoco bubbled over with rhythmic energy,precision and delicacy but as I said this was Sasha in pastoral mood and I missed some of the rustic,animal urgency and participation that he was obviously saving for the Schumann and Messiaen!
I was very pleased to be able to hear him play the Schumann Carnaval Jest from Vienna which was one of Michelangeli’s specialities in his later years.It was especially interesting because as Sasha said in his all too brief pre- concert discussion he has been working with Noretta Conci-Leech who was for mamy years Michelangeli’s assistant.
The Faschingsschwank Aus Wien as Sasha said in his talk had inspired him as a child in Kiev from the video performances of Sviatoslav Richter that he used to listen to over and over again.I too remember very well the two recitals that Richter gave in London in the 60’s as his visiting card broadcast by the BBC on Christmas Day ( He also played the Dvorak Piano Concerto and Andante Spianato and Grande Polonaise of Chopin with Kleiber at the Royal Albert Hall).Everything that Gilels had said, on his earlier visit to the west,was true.’If you think I am good wait until you hear who follows me!’
The opening Allegro molto was played with great forward movement and energy and it was the same continual forward movement that carried us on the wings of song that follow in the intervening episodes.Even the brief entry of the Marseillaise was played with the same exhilarating sense of Carnaval.This was infact the last of a long stream of masterpieces that flowed from Schumann’s pen.Beginning with The Abegg Variation op 1 ( that incidentally was the first work of Schumann that Richter played in those two historic first London recitals)taking in all his great works for piano.There was to be after this work a break until the final works from op 68 onwards with the Album for the young finishing with the rarely played Gesange der Fruhe- Songs of dawn op 133(A work that that other great italian musician Guido Agosti adored) .There was a supreme simplicity to the very short Romanze played with extraordinary attention to detail and it contrasted so well with the gaiety of the Scherzino.The Intermezzo was played with controlled passion that allowed this almost Mendelssohnian movement to sing like a song without words.The gentle answering of one voice by another always with this passionate undercurrent was very touching as it died away to a whisper.It was rudely interrupted by the exuberance of the Finale.Again a wonderful sense of forward movement that only relaxed slightly as one of Schumann’s most poignant melodies floated above(A melody very reminiscent of Fauré’s Dolly suite!-Listen with mother and all that- for anyone that might still remember the good old days!)Sasha threw himself into the final few pages with a passionate involvement that was indeed the ideal preparation for the Messiaen that followed.
But the real interest for me was to hear him talk so eloquently and with obvious passion about Messiaen’s Regard de l’esprit de Joie.Together with Le baiser de l’Enfant Jésus these are two masterpieces from his collection of Vingt Regards sur l’Enfant Jésus. As Sasha pointed out they could hardly be categorised as contemporary music as they were written in 1944!Apart from the savage rhythms and strikingly original harmonies there are very poignant melodic outpourings ,declarations of the composer’s absolute belief.
Tredding sometimes on what seems broken glass but entering into Messiaen’s mystic world of a true believer it can be very moving indeed.As it obviously was for Sasha.Transcendentally difficult the very first performance I ever heard was in the first Leeds International Piano Competition .A young french pianist,who had recently given a recital at my old school : Chiswick Boys Grammar – gave an astounding performance of a work hardly yet known to a vast public.Jean Rodolphe Kars won fourth prize in 1966 to Rafael Orozco’s first and Victoria Postnikova’s 2nd.
He later became a trappist monk!Yes Messiaen can indeed have this effect as was shown today in Sasha’s totally committed performance.Absolute clarity as in the other works in his programme and always a beautiful sound but not so beautiful that the passionate outbursts were deeply felt and driven home.One could see on his face but above all hear from his playing the same passion with which he had spoken earlier.Tredding on broken glass with glee it was so moving as the great hymn like declarations were played with almost heartbreaking sincerity.Quite spectacular too the final savage race to the end and the oh so final note played as a final triumphant score as his threw his whole body into the fray.