Venetian Homage to Ludwig 1770 at Teatro Toniolo Mario Brunello presents The Rimonda-Cecino- Giovannini Trio

Luca Giovannini-Mario Brunello-Giulia Rimonda-Elia Cecino

A concert under the title Homage to Ludwig 1770 and presented for the season of Mestre-Venice in Teatro Toniolo.It was streamed live on the 30th and 31st December at 20.30 , presented by Mario Brunello (winner of the Tchaikowsky International Competition in 1986).Ever generous he was giving a platform to three of the most talented artist of their generation.
Luca Giovannini (2000),Elia Cecino (2001),Giulia Rimonda(2002),in the name of Beethoven.A concert recorded just two days before Beethoven’s actual 250th birthday on the 16th December 1770.

The Trio Rimonda-Cecino-Giovannini

And what better way than with one of the best known of the Trios to unite these three young musicians in an absorbing musical conversation.
It was Barenboim who exclaimed that when musicians get together they don’t make conversation but they make music .
They get to know each other in a far greater way than they ever would with words.
And so it was today with the first dynamic notes fired at us with all their youthful passion and rhythmic drive that created a call to arms from the very first notes. Beethoven’s pupil Carl Czerny wrote in 1842 that the slow movement of the Trio in D major op.70n.1 reminded him of the ghost scene at the opening of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, and this was the origin of the nickname.It features themes found in the second movement of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 2 too.A deeply felt Largo assai ed espressivo where each of these young artist were looking at each other with searing commitment as they created such magical sounds.The Presto was played with a freshness and simplicity with a smile on Giulias face as she passed the notes to Luca who in turned shared them with Elia.
This was indeed a fine homage to Beethoven and to a youthful hope for the future!

Luca Giovannini

But it had been prefaced with a short piece each in which they took it in turns to talk and then play with the great Italian cellist.Luca was playing the cello that had brought Mario Brunello his triumph in Moscow in 1986.An Ansaldo Poggi of 1927 generously on loan to this aspiring young cellist.Brunello now plays a Maggini of the 1600’s.

Mario Brunello

Elia had played a piece for piano and cello by the Russian Shchedrin.A spirited and stylish performance where Brunello had shown his unique sense of rubato and subtle colouring.

Elia Cecino in conversation with Mario Brunello

Not Love Alone (also translated Not for Love Alone or Not Only Love; Russian: Не только любовь ; Ne tol’ko lyubov’) is the first opera of Rodion Shchedrin (Russia 1932), written 1961, revised in 1971
A well-known piece from this opera (usually played by cello and piano) is the humorous Quadrille from the second Act (Scene 15: The arrival of Varvara Vasilyevna and quadrille).

Luca Giovannini played a work by the Ukrainian Silvestrov for two cello’s with infact Brunello’s two cellos blending so well together in the hands of his young passionate protogée.
Valentyn Silvestrov (Ukraine 1937)8.VI.1810…zum Geburtstag R. A. Schumann for two cellos (2004) realizes the composer’s goal for a “cello four-hands,” expanding the instrument’s possibilities by turning it inward. A feeling of euphoria locks flesh with shadows. Dances flit by like opportunities for melodic escape, while their after-images seek reciprocation in the listening. Lechner and Vesterman accordingly hang their spirits on easels and mark them with every brushstroke of the bow.

Giulia Rimonda with Mario Brunello

It was the beautifully elegant Giulia Rimonda who played a short piece by another Ukrainian composer with great musicianship and sense of enjoyment.
Victoria Polevà (Ukraine 1962) Gulfstream (2010) for violin and cello

Emanuele Stracchi recital -White Christmas with bells jingling for Roma 3 – swan song 2020

The last concert of a very difficult year was streamed live for Roma 3 Orchestra from Teatro Palladium in Rome.Emanuele Stracchi ,a very popular former student of the University showed of his versatility as a composer,arranger and pianist.

In a programme that opened with a crystal clear account of Bach’s D major Prelude and Fugue Book 1 with the same majesty in the Fugue that he was to bring to the Chromatic Fantasy and Fugue later.Not only clarity but he was obviously in his element with the chordal arpeggiated chords that led to the poignant recitativi .The fugue entering almost unnoticed grew to an ever more impressive conclusion.

Three very early works by Beethoven followed and were obviously written for his own early performances as a virtuoso.
The novelty was a first performance of the early variations in A,Unv.-14 written in 1794 and now reconstructed by Graziano Denini ,full of charm in the style of his master Haydn.
The rondò in A WoO49 written in 1783 was followed by the well known ‘Rage over a lost penny’ published as op 129 by Diabelli,after Beethoven’s death,but written in 1795-98. Robert Schumann wrote that “it would be difficult to find anything merrier than this whim… It is the most amiable, harmless anger, similar to that felt when one cannot pull a shoe from off the foot.”It’s full title is “Rondo alla ungherese quasi un capriccio” in G major, Op. 129 but is better known by the title Rage Over a Lost Penny, Vented in a Caprice (from German: Die Wut über den verlorenen Groschen, ausgetobt in einer Caprice).It is a showpiece for the likes of Evgeny Kissin and although Emanuele played with the same intelligent musicianship as his Bach he did not quite have the scintillating ‘fingerfertigkeit’that it was obviously written to show off.

The Bartòk Suite op 14 began to open a world that is Emanuele’s.
Abandoning the score he played the four short movements with a sense of wonder and improvisation.There was a clarity in the Scherzo and an unrelenting rhythmic impetus in the ostinato third movement from which emerged the magic sounds of the final sostenuto.

It was though in the unexpected encore that one could savour the true talent of this versatile young musician.
His own improvisations on Christmas themes.
Here a whole world opened up of subtle magic sounds with a freedom of expression and sense of natural rhythmic pulse.Even ending with a boogy-woogy version of White Christmas that out of the final reverberant chord appeared the bells on high,truly Jingling!
A fine pianist but when you let him free and off the lead I begin to see why he was chosen to give the final concert of the year.
Hats off indeed

Ivan Krpan at home for Le Salon de la Musique

J.S.Bach Partita in B flat BWV 825 Prelude-Allemande-Courante-Sarabande-Menuetto 1-Menuett 2 Gigue; F.Chopin Nocturne op 9 n.1 in B flat minor;B.Bersa Nocturne op 38 ; F.Liszt La lugubre gondola n.1; B.Bersa Venetian Barcarolle op.58

As with his playing of the second Partita by Bach that Ivan played recently in Zagreb it is the absolute clarity,beauty of sound and crystal clear ornamentation that show off the maturity of a pianist who is still only in his early twenties.Today he chose the most calm and pastoral of the six partitas.It was with the Prelude of the first Partita that he created such a tranquil opening ,similar to the 5th French suite where Bach is leading us into a world of peace and almost Schubertian lyricism.There is a purity of line where you can almost hear the human voice which Ivan allowed to flow without any seeming interruption or unnecessary external influences.He brought the Prelude to a natural emotional climax from which poured the continuous web of streaming sounds of the Allemande.Very slightly holding the first note of the first few bars giving such poignant meaning to what is just a trickle of pure and simple sounds.His great sense of legato contrasted so well with the deliberate non legato of the Courante played with some very delicate phrasing always in perfect style.The luminosity of sound in the Sarabande was quite startling as was the almost operatic freedom of the long deeply felt singing lines.The Menuetto 1 was played with great buoyancy and a very deliberate crisp and clean non legato that contrasted with the musette of the Menuetto 2 played with much more lyrical freedom.The little glissando into the repeat of the Menuetto 1 was a deliberate and delicious addition.The Gigue was played with a well oiled precision almost without pedal except in the repeats where Ivan allowed us to treasure even more what Bach had only hinted at the first time around.

There was a complete change of scene for Chopin’s first nocturne op 9.A beautiful bel canto fully sustained by the subtle left hand harmonies.The middle section even more bathed in pedal.A wondrous melodic outpouring rising out of the water like some sunken cathedral!Rising above the mist with a passionate outburst of sumptuous colours.Only to die away to a whisper before the reappearance of our bel canto but this time with a reticence that was so touching as it moved to it’s magical ending.

It led so well to the beautiful sounds of Bersa’s Nocturne full of such subtle colouring and passionate outbursts.I have written just recently about Ivan’s performances of Liszt La lugubre gondola 1 and Bersa’s Venetian Barcarolle.Ivan’s playing of late Liszt is quite remarkable.Playing of such depth of feeling in it’s unbearable anguish and insistent longing .He makes us realise the true genius of Liszt who could portray so much with so little as his visionary search late in a very full life could lead the way for what was to come in the future.The ending was deeply moving as it was dramatic.

The Bersa Barcarolle was played with beautiful golden sounds on which floated a magical mellifluous outpouring .I have written above more fully about the almost unknown composer Blagoje Bersa much celebrated in Croazia.In fact the school where the six year old Ivan Krpan took his first steps in piano playing is named after him!

Ivan Krpan was born in Zagreb in 1997 into a musical family and began studying the piano at the age of six at the Blagoje Bersa Music School in Zagreb, under the tutelage of Renata Strojin Richter. From 2013 he has been studying piano with Ruben Dalibaltayan at the Music Academy in Zagreb where he obtained his master’s degree in 2019. He has won several first prizes in national and international piano competitions; prize wins of note include first prizes at the 12th Piano Competition “Les Rencontres Internationales des Jeunes Pianistes” Grez Doiceau in Belgium in 2014, the International Piano Competition Young Virtuosi in Zagreb in 2014, the International Piano Competition for Young Musicians in Enschede (Netherlands) and the Ettlingen International Competition for Young Pianists. He achieved 2nd prize in the International Danube Piano Competition in Ulm in 2014 and same year he won a special prize awarded by the Dean of the Zagreb Music Academy and the 4th prize at the 1st International Zhuhai Mozart Competition in Zhuhai, China. He also won the annual Ivo Vuljević prize awarded by the Jeunesses Musicales Croatia for the best young musician in Croatia in 2015. In 2016 he won the 3rd prize at the 10th Moscow International Frederick Chopin Competition for Young Pianists and the Zagreb Philharmonic Orchestra has granted him the Young Musician of the Year Award. At the age of twenty, Ivan Krpan has won the Ferruccio Busoni International Piano Competition 2017, one of the world’s most prestigious piano competitions. 2018/2019 season saw him performing in important Italian cities as Venice, Rome, Milano, Turin, in major music centers as London, Vienna and Hong Kong as well as a tour in South Korea in collaboration with the World Culture Networks Foundation and Steinway & Sons. He also had an important tour in Germany (Munich, Hamburg, Leipzig, Dusseldorf, Dresden, Hanover), and an extensive tour in Japan. For the first time the Ferruccio Busoni International Piano Competition Foundation has produced a studio album, which it has made available exclusively on IDAGIO, a leading streaming service for classical music. In May 2018 Mr. Krpan took to the legendary Emil Berliner Studios in Berlin to record Chopin’s 24 Préludes and Schumann’s Fantasie op. 17 and Arabeske op. 18. Classical music lovers around the world can hear this exceptional recording exclusively on IDAGIO.

Roma 3 Orchestra -Young Artists Series streamed live from Teatro Palladium Rome

Roma tre orchestra season streamed live from Teatro Palladium in Rome

Hard to know where to look as the hands and arms of Adriano Leonardo Scapicchi and Francesco Bravi twisted and turned as they entwined in their unrelenting rhythmic journey in Stravinsky’s original four hand version of The Rite of Spring.

A formidable knotty twine of great precision and rhythmic pulse in which Stravinsky’s demonic vision of insinuated melodies and savage naked rhythms vied with each other in a tour de force that I have not witnessed since a young almost unknown Vladimir Ashkenazy fought it out with Daniel Barenboim in the first Summer Festival on the Southbank in London fifty years ago.
The same festival where that other unknown couple Martha Argerich and Nelson Freire also took the world by storm but on two pianos!
Ravel’s Rhapsodie espagnole usually played on two pianos was played today on one and showed such evocative sounds with their extraordinary control of the pedals ensuring that here is formidable duo who think and play as one …….no mean feat indeed.

A wonderful sounding Schimmel piano that sounded even more like a Bosendorfer makes me think that that magician Mauro Buccitti has waved his magic wand over the proceedings yet again.

Stravinsky in conversation at the piano with Robert Craft:

Fanny Waterman an appreciation of the ‘piano mummy‘ of our age

Dame Fanny with Menahem Pressler in Oxford

How many years have passed since meeting with this legendary figure in Oxford.Dame Fanny had always been part of my life but to meet her and get to know her,even though all too sporadically ,was a real joy.But it was the joy of music that she so generously shared with so many people.

‘My piano mummy ‘says Lang Lang.She was in reality the mother to so many pianist both big and small throughout the world.In Oxford at Mario Papadopoulos’s Philomusica Summer Festival I approached the great lady for the first time.

Interrogation of Vitaly Pisarenko

‘Dame Fanny,let me introduce you to the winner of your next competition!’Taken a little aback ,but intrigued,she immediately went into action as she took Vitaly Pisarenko to a piano and said:’play me something classical’He did:Beethoven Pathétique and went on to take her next competition by storm until in the final his colleague from Moscow,Anna Tsybuleva played such an extraordinary Brahms 2 that Vitaly’s Rachmaninov 3 was just not enough to satisfy the orchestra and jury.

Dame Fanny listening to Pisarenko’s Beethoven

At the end of the previous rounds I had been advised by a jury member friend to hurry up to Leeds for the final in which this young man was a hot favourite.He did win a top prize but Anna beat him to the ultimate winning post.Vitaly was sustained by the Keyboard Charitable Trust created by Noretta Conci and her husband John Leech,now in their nineties, they have entrusted the reigns to me,Leslie Howard and Elena Vorotko.

Dane Fanny with Pablo Rossi

A few years later I invited Dame Fanny to the first concert of the KCT in collaboration with the Brazilian Embassy at the Cunard Hall in Trafalgar Square.She was already well into her 90’s but in London for a board meeting and staying at one of the exclusive clubs nearby.She said she would try to attend and lo and behold appeared at our concert given by the young Pablo Rossi.We were all surprised and enchanted that she could be with us and I seated her in the best seat next to the piano.Luckily Pablo had never met Dame Fanny so was blissfully unaware of such a renowned presence but he did notice this distinguished lady nodding her head with every sound he made.I introduced her afterwards to Pablo Rossi.Gabrielle Baldocci and many other distinguished pianists present and also the founders of the KCT and she was overwhelmed by the attention :’What a wonderful host you are’ she said to me as I escorted her to the waiting taxi.It sealed a friendship that was indeed a great honour for me.

With the distinguished pianist and Professor at the RCM Norma Fisher in Cunard Hall.John Leech,founder of the KCT in the background.

I remember her being present in Oxford at Pressler’s memorable performance of Mozart’s K.488 concerto that she herself had played at the Proms as a young aspiring pianist long before she became a Dame.

Two of the most remarkable musicians who listen to every single note without a moment’s distraction discussing Mozart together in the green room afterwards.In fact it was Pressler who confided to me that Dame Fanny wanted him always on the jury of her competition.He remembered though the time he had accepted and Dame Fanny had insisted that he sit next to her.Well, whilst many jury members were able to occasionally nod off during many of the less sensational performances ,Dame Fanny was wide awake listening to every single note,good and bad,and poor Pressler sitting with her could not join ranks with his colleagues!

Discussing Mozart in your 90’s

Living in Italy I sent Dame Fanny a birthday Email saying that I had just heard on BBC Radio 3 a remarkable concert by Graham Johnson with his Songmaker’s Almanac.She immediately wrote back to say that she too had listened to the concert and considered Graham to be the Gerald Moore of our time.’How eloquent you are Christopher’, she exclaimed as we exchanged views for some time afterwards.I was at the RAM with Graham and I told him of this long distance correspondence about his Wigmore concert.He got in touch with Dame Fanny and a friendship was sealed on wings of song one might say.

Dame Fanny with her class in Oxford; the seed is sown for yet another generation!

The last time I saw Dame Fanny was at a prize winners recital at Leeds University of Vitaly Pisarenko .Her longtime friend Linda Wellings gave me pride of place next to Dame Fanny but she was already not well and had to leave in the interval and sadly it was the last time I saw her.

She will be much missed and our only regret was that we did not share a punt together in Oxford much to her disappointment as her car had come to take her back to work in Leeds!

a punt made for three with Vitaly Pisarenko and regretfully without Dame Fanny although she very much wanted to come with us

With her companion Linda Wellings in Oxford

Zimerman and Rattle a seamless stream of beauty and joy for Beethoven’s 250

Sheer perfection from Krystian Zimerman -Simon Rattle and the LSO.
The joy these two ‘lads’ brought to the Rondo of the first concert was a marvel to behold.The little bell like acciaccaturas just before the piano’s delicate farewell and the full Beethovenian outburst from the orchestra was one of the most wondrous moments in this desolate year.
The impish humour of such joy and fun as Krystian and Simon kicked Beethoven’s old ball around from one to another was unforgettable.
Zimerman playing with the score as the composer himself would have done but with this unique artist who carries the golden sound of his mentor Rubinstein in his chubby hands it only adds to the continual voyage of discovery.Truly one of the marvels of the age and quite rightly dedicated to Beethoven on his 250th birthday.

More marvels from Zimerman and Rattle.
Beethoven 2 and 4 played with an improvisatory fantasy that was like hearing these much loved works for the first time.
Perhaps Beethoven could have imagined such wondrous sounds in his private ear but to share them with others is one of the greatest gifts that we could have in these troubled times.
The 2nd concerto with such whispered asides followed by Toscanini like injections of energy from the orchestra.An opening of the 4th concerto like angels calling from afar played with such a whispered delicacy.Trills just vibrations of magic sounds.Cadenzas of improvised inspiration.

A knowing smile on their faces as they shared the innermost secrets and schoolboy humour bouncing Beethoven’s ideas from one to the other.The simple scales in the first movement of the 2nd concerto I never imagined I could listen to them again after Gilels’s magic account with Sir Adrian Boult all those years ago.But here was the same magic golden sound that had Rubinstein exclaiming,on listening to a chubby red haired school boy in Russia,that if he ever came to the west he may as well pack up his bags and leave.
Pack up your troubles in an old kit bag indeed.
How can we ever thank them enough!

The Prince of pianist’s wears the Emperors cloak as Zimerman and Rattle together with the LSO bring their unforgettable survey of Beethoven’s five piano concertos to a glorious conclusion.Could there ever have been a better way of celebrating Beethoven 250 than this?

An Emperor starting with the right hand on that first low E flat as the cadenza unfolded on their wondrous journey.An orchestra under Rattle that played with a beauty,freedom and conviction as rarely heard in the recording studio.Such was the energy generated by the almost chamber music interplay that Zimerman and Rattle created it would have been impossible not to be wound up in this seamless stream of both ravishing and tumultuous sounds.An Adagio even more simple than Rubinstein’s unforgettable account.The descending scales allowed to whisper without any inflections but just allowed to trickle from Zimerman’s fingers with such ravishing beauty.Scrupulously sustained by the sumptuous sounds that Rattle and his colleagues so poignantly provided.The interplay and rhythmic energy of the Rondo did not exclude slight hesitations and inflections that brought a knowing smile to Simon and Krystian’s faces as they seemed to be discovering the music for the first time.
Performances that will go down in history and be the measure by which all others are compared.

Mengyang Pan at Cranleigh Arts Centre Beethoven birthday concert

Programme:Beethoven Sonata in F major op 10 no 2 – Allegro- Menuetto, Allegretto- Presto
Beethoven Sonata in D major op 10 no 3 – Presto- Largo e mesto – Menuetto; Allegro- Rondo: Allegro
Beethoven Sonata in E major op 109 – Vivace ma non troppo – Adagio expressivo – Prestissimo- Gesangvoll, mit innigster Empfindung. Andante molto cantabile ed espressivo
Beethoven Sonata in F minor op 57 ‘Appassionata’ – Allegro Assai- Andante con moto- Allegro ma non troppo – presto

Clive Wouters in conversation with Mengyang Pan

A recital of four Sonatas by Beethoven found the ideal interpreter in Mengyang Pan for the 250th birthday concert at Cranleigh Arts Centre on what is presumed to be the exact date of 16th December 1770.I have admired Mengyang’s playing since first hearing her in the Rina Sala Gallo International Piano Competition in Monza,Italy in 2008.I was a jury member and remember very well her prize winning performance of Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto.It was the clarity and precision together with her intelligence that struck me then as it has every time I have heard her since.Allied to a strong artistic temperament and sense of balance and colour her playing of Beethoven is in a very special class of it’s own.I have written previously about her early training in the class of Tessa Nicholson,that extraordinary trainer of young musicians at the Purcell School.Her graduation from the Royal College of Music was under the Head of Piano:Vanessa Latarche who I have known since she was the star pupil as a child of that dedicated teacher in Ealing,Eileen Rowe .Katherine Stott,Tessa Nicholson,Danielle Salamon and I used to help her with her ever growing number of pupils that she taught in her multipianoed house.She left all her worldly possession to create a Trust to help young musicians in Ealing.The Trust is administered by Vanessa and that other remarkable pupil of Miss Rowe ,Dr Hugh Mather of St Mary’s Perivale where Mengyang had recently played one of these Beethoven sonatas in a weekend dedicated to the 32 sonatas played by 32 different pianists.I was delighted to learn that recently Mengyang was invited to join the RCM faculty as a full professor.

Infact it was Stephen Dennison’s own words as artistic director that reminded me of a performance that I should not miss :’You must be overdone with Beethoven 250 concerts but may I bring to your attention one more.I am no expert but I believe MengYang’s performance at Cranleigh this week, in front of a Covid secure audience of 35, was pretty special.Not just for the performance on piano but for her overall “show” and her words about each sonata; all made a great package.’

How right he was and it was a surprise to hear myself quoted by Clive Wouters in his interval interview with the artist and to still agree wholeheartedly!Quoting from an article I wrote of a previous performance I stated:’her playing demonstrated clarity and precision going from the imperious to the most touching’ He also quoted The Times that had written about her performance of the mammoth Serenade by Helmut Lachenmann:’poised like a cat spying its prey before the pounce’

Stephen Dennison presenting the concert

The first half of her programme was dedicated to two of the three early Sonatas that make up op 10.The second in F major was a great favourite of Glenn Gould and is in only three movements ,the usual slow movement being replaced with an Allegretto almost Schubertian in it’s mellifluous lilt contrasting between the opening and the middle Trio like section.Here I felt Mengyang was trying to delve too deeply and it sounded a little too serious played in three instead of the much lighter one in a bar that the Trio obviously is.However it was played with scrupulous attention to detail and Beethoven’s sforzandi were played with just the right weight to indicate the inner counterpoint imitation In the trio she found the perfect lilt that she had missed in the outer sections and the comments in the bass alternating with the treble were most eloquent.The final two chords marcato instead of lighter staccato made me realise that she had a different vision of this movement from mine.Not so the opening Allegro that was full of the bustling fun of early Beethoven.There was a great rhythmic buoyancy to the development section and the return of the opening theme was with even more impish good humour than at the opening.The final scintillating Presto was played with all the brilliance that Czerny had described of his master’s own performance.Mengyang played it with great control with precision and relentlessness that brought this opening work to an exhilarating conclusion.

The Sonata op 10 n.3 is a work in four movements and contains a profound slow movement that begins to show what would evolve from Beethoven’s pen just a few years later.The rolled chords of the Largo e mesto -like the fourth piano concerto were arpeggiated even though not written specifically in the score.There are letters of the period that tell us of Beethoven’s performance of the fourth piano concerto with arpeggiated chords which both Angela Hewitt and Steven Kovacevich adhere to in their recordings.Of course,as Mengyang had said in her interval conversation,pianos were still evolving in that period and both touch and sound were very different from the pianos of today.It must be left to the integrity of the performer and to their informed good taste to decide.Here in Mengyang’s hands it was very discreet and totally convincing although she did not repeat it on the return of the theme.She played with an almost chiselled cantabile of great purity and the hushed change of key was most moving as it led to great outbursts with delicate comments high up in the treble.The gradual arpeggiated climax was played with great conviction and died away to a languid farewell finishing on a single note deep in the bass.There followed a Menuetto that was like a ray of light played with simple radiance.The joyous Trio bubbled along building to a climax before the gentle reappearance of the Menuetto.The rondo was played with remarkable clarity and jewel like precision.The final chromatic scales and arpeggios were played almost without pedal as the rondo came to a scintillating tranquil ending.The opening Presto was played with scrupulous attention to detail,the sforzandi played so mellifluously.The development was played with rhythmic urgency and sense of line before the return of the quiet opening octaves leading to the coda of brilliant urgency.

After the interval we were treated to a masterly performance of the Sonata op 109.The first of the final trilogy where Beethoven now completely deaf could obviously hear sounds that were both unearthly and probably not able to be reproduced on the pianos of the period.With the modern day piano we have an orchestra on which to seek out the sounds that Beethoven could only have imagined.The beautiful opening of the Sonata where everything was played with a bell like clarity and a sense of architectural shape that created a panorama of almost pastoral tranquility.It was interrupted by the Prestissimo second movement of great turbulence and continual forward movement.It prepared the path for the theme and variations of profound dignity and sublime beauty .Played with the same intensity of a string quartet where every strand of sound had a meaning.The first variation was beautifully shaped and kept in sumptuous control.There was a gentle clarity to the leggiermente second variation alternating with some beautiful legato part playing where every voice had such shape and meaning.There was superb technical control in the third variation that led to the continuous flow of sounds in the fourth.The nobly stated fifth variation had an urgent forward movement before the searching sixth and final variation where Mengyang’s sense of line and technical assurance was remarkable.The swirling arpeggios over bass trills was played with passionate conviction as the theme appeared in the heights over long trills and very busy left hand embellishments.All dissolving so magically in Mengyang’s hands as the theme reappeared out of a cloud of sound as it made its way to the profound final chords.

I have written before about Mengyang’s remarkable performance of the Appassionata Sonata op 57 with which she closed her programme at Cranleigh.It is of a remarkable clarity and technical mastery.Even the great arpeggios in the first movement were played with one hand as Beethoven indicates and is so often ignored by lesser pianists who prefer to take less risks!The slow movement too was played as a string quartet with such rich meaningful sounds.The last movement was a tour de force of technical control,resilience and excitement.The final exhilarating arpeggios of the coda brought cheers from the small but very appreciative live audience.

The Beethoven Eccosaise WoO86 was Mengyang’s way of thanking all the people that had made her performance possible in these difficult times.

Menyang Pan was born in China and has been living in the UK since 2000. She began her piano study at the age of three before becoming a junior student at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing. At the age of 14, she left her native China to study at the Purcell School in the UK with professor Tessa Nicholson. Upon graduating with high honours, she went on to complete her musical education at the Royal College of Music training under professor Gordon Fergus-Thompson and Professor Vanessa Latarche.The prize winner of many competitions including Rina Sala Gallo International Piano competition, Bromsgrove International Young Musician’s Platform, Dudley International Piano Competition, Norah Sands Award, MBF Educational Award, Mengyang has performed in many prestigious venues such as the Royal Festival Hall, Wigmore Hall, Cadogan Hall, Bridgewater Hall, Birmingham Symphony Hall, Bruckner Haus amongst many others. As soloist, Mengyang has appeared with many orchestras and her collaboration with conductors such as Maestro Vladimir Ashkenazy, John Wilson and Mikk Murdvee has gained the highest acclaim. Apart from performing, Mengyang also finds much joy in teaching. In 2019, Mengyang was appointed piano professor at the world renowned Royal College of Music in London, she also teaches at Imperial College Blyth Centre for Music and Visual Arts.

Cranleigh Arts Centre is a registered charity (no. 284186) and a company limited by guarantee. It is governed by a board of Trustees appointed by Members who represent the local community. Waverley Borough Council and Cranleigh Parish Council are also involved as observers at Board level. Originally run by volunteers, Cranleigh Arts still only employs a team of four staff with many operations still undertaken by members of the local community. Volunteers play a vital role within the arts centre and are fundamental to our success and sustainability.

Formerly the local village school (1847 – 1966), our building is steeped in history and something of a landmark on Cranleigh’s high street.The organisation was founded in 1978 when a number of local community groups – including The Photographic Society, The Film Society, The Arts Society, Cranleigh Players, Adult Education and a local pottery group – came together to lease the disused Victorian school building from Waverley Borough Council. Their founding principle “to enrich, entertain and inspire” remains our mission today.Under the Chairmanship of Jack Wagg, plans were drawn up to develop and extend the premises. This was expedited by Catherine Pike in the ’90s, culminating in major work in 1997/8 with the aid of Lottery money and other grants. Our multi-purpose auditorium was added to the premises and the rest of the building stylishly refurbished. Over the last twenty years, we have continued to enhance the facilities for our visitors and maintain our heritage building for the community.

Roma 3 Orchestra comes of age at Teatro Palladium in Rome

An exchange of views with Valerio Vicari,the enlightened Artistic director of Roma 3 University.Not content with helping young musicians find a platform for their solo performances for the past 15 years he has united them in an complete orchestra.A noble gesture and one that has needed an expert guide with much patience to guide them through all the problems of ‘convivenza’-living and working as an ensemble.

Starting later than advertised I was worried that the live stream might have started in the caverns of my computer without my being aware of it.So I was desperately in comunication with Rome from my home in London.

I had just heard Zimerman and Rattle play on DG live stream Beethoven 3 and 1 and was anxious to hear 2,4 and 5 and also Barenboim live on Radio 3 from Bonn with Beethoven 1 and the Fifth Symphony.It was ,after all,Beethoven’s birthday.

But a promise is a promise and I have been supporting with much admiration the splendid platform that Valerio has been giving so selflessly,for so many years,to needy young musicians.The same dedication and support that they find here at St Mary’s Perivale from Dr Hugh Mather and his valiant team of volonteers.

Not entirely happy to hear that it would be streamed twenty minutes late and Zimerman and co would just have to wait their turn.

Here is my surprise exchange at the start of the concert:’What a difference with this Bronzi and some vibrato,real style of sound and dynamics – a great sense of balance.Superb musicianship they are listening to each other like with Pappano and his Rome Orchestra.’-‘Yes he is great’-‘ so are they ….just listen to the difference.This is a real orchestra that you can be proud of’-‘and I am ,Very much.They are like my children’-‘Sign him up Valerio don’t let him get way… will not regret it!’-‘already planned another concert with Bronzi for the Spring’-‘how many rehearsals did he have?’-‘two only ,three days of work together’-‘but you brought in other players too’-‘no,they are my top players’

An unbelievable transformation of the Roma 3 Orchestra under Enrico Bronzi who also conducted from the cello.Streamed live from the Teatro Palladium in Rome
An orchestra that listens to itself is an orchestra to be reckoned with indeed!
Superb cello playing too from Enrico Bronzi in Strauss’s rarely performed Romance.
Some superb ensemble in the opening Sextett from Strauss’s Capriccio.
But it was in the Schubert hinted at in the Entr’acte from Rosamunde but then more than confirmed in their gloriously sensitive performance of the ‘Unfinished’Symphony.Such refined sounds from the strings as one might have expected with such a distinguished cellist at the helm.
But superb wind soloists too.
All listening to each other as Enrico Bronzi shaped with such loving care this Unfinished masterpiece.A sense of dynamic control and range as they seemed to breathe as one with such united feeling.

Dame Mitsuko at the Wigmore Hall…..the sublime remedy in these troubled times

One of the marvels of our age Mitsuko Uchida playing Schubert.
Sublime perfection that had me hurrying to Perugia to hear the marvels again that she had created in the Festival Hall .Now for the world to hear thanks to the Wigmore Hall live streaming.

In Perugia backstage she said she wanted no pictures or films as a concert should remain as a beautiful thing in one’s memory.Could it be that this COVID epidemic has made her rethink her philosophy and feel that in these sublime performances there is a message that no politician’s words could even begin to evaluate ?Hope you were listening.That is truly such masterly playing that technique become irrelevant as she produces with the minimum of movement an enormous range of nuances and sounds.From the enormous climax of the Gmajor first movement played with the same vehemence that I remember from Serkin .To a barely audible piano that becomes even pianississimo.I thought Volodos was the only pianist alive who could find those sounds .But she who seeks finds as she has proven today.I did not want to say it but I went to Perugia to try to meet this most remarkable lady who stands as a Tureck or Fischer in this very barren landscape.

Beethoven’s Birthday concert

Wednesday 16 December 1.10 pm

Joint recital with the Beethoven Piano Society of Europe
completing their survey of all 32 sonatas during 2020
on Beethoven’s 250th birthday – today ! 

Julian Jacobson

Beethoven: Piano sonata in C minor Op 13 ‘Pathetique’

Beethoven: Piano sonata in C minor Op 111

Beethoven 250 celebration on what is presumed to be the actual birthdate.The final concert of the complete Sonatas programmed over the year by different pianists for the Beethoven Society.Today was to have been the final recital with the last Sonata op 111 to be played in a public concert at St James’s Piccadilly.It was cancelled for the new COVID Tier 3 restrictions brought into place last night.

Thanks to the generosity and passion of Dr Hugh Mather and his team the concert was rescheduled and streamed live from St Mary’s Perivale.So as not to upset Beethoven who was also celebrated with an opening flourish by Julian Jacobson,the chairman of the Beethoven Society.He gave musicianly performances of the Sonata in C minor op 13 and in Hugh’s own words a very poignantly moving performance of the last Sonata op 111.Julian is the only person I know who has played the entire cycle of 32 Sonatas on the same day all from memory …..or at least as he corrected me all but the Hammerklavier op 106!

Julian Jacobson enjoys a distinguished career as pianist, composer, writer, teacher and conductor. Trained classically at the Royal College of Music London (where he now teaches, as well as at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire) and Oxford University, he was also the inaugural pianist of the National Youth Jazz Orchestra of Great Britain. Julian has performed in more than forty countries on five continents. Frequently apppearing in China, he is Guest Professor at Xiamen University, and gives masterclasses internationally. A large and varied discography includes rarities such as the four sonatas of Carl Maria von Weber and the Violin Sonatas of Georges Enesco. He is Chairman of the Beethoven Piano Society of Europe and is in the process of recording the 32 sonatas. In 2003 he made history by performing all the sonatas from memory in a single day, repeating this in 2004 and 2013; he his planning one final “marathon” for 2022. He has composed several film and TV scores including To The Lighthouse and We Think The World Of You, as well as instrumental pieces and songs. His virtuoso transcriptions for piano duet of Gershwin’s An American in Paris and Second Rhapsody, published by Schott/Bardic Edition, have received rave reviews; Julian recorded them in August for the SOMM label with his duo partner Mariko Brown.