Domonkos Csabay at St Mary’s. A refined recital from a true musician

Tuesday 2 February 4.00 pm 

Domonkos Csabay (piano) 

Bach-Busoni: 9 Choral Preludes

-“Komm Gott, Schöpfer, heil’ger Geist” (“Come God, Creator, Holy Ghost”) BWV667;

-“Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme!” (“Awake, the Voice commands!”) BWV645;

-“Nun komm’ der Heiden Heiland!” (“Now come, the Gentiles’ Saviour!”) BWV659;

-“Nun freut euch, lieben Christen g’mein!” (“Rejoice, beloved Christians!”) BWV734a;

-“Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ” (“I call on Thee, Lord Jesus Christ”) BWV639;

-“Herr Gott, nun schleuß den Himmel auf!” (“Lord God, now open Heaven’s Gate!”) BWV617;

-“Durch Adams Fall ist ganz verderbt” (“All is lost through Adam’s Fall”) BWV637;

-“In dir ist Freude” (“In Thee is Joy”) BWV615;

-“Jesus Christus, unser Heiland” (“Jesus Christ, Our Saviour”) BWV665;


Liszt : Three pieces

-‘Ave Maria’ or “The Bells of Rome” S.182; 6min 

-La cloche sonne (A French folksong) S.238; 2min 

-Faribolo Pastour (“Pastoral Whimsy”) S.236/1; 5min

Schumann: Sonata no 2 in G minor Op 22

So rasch wie moglich – Andantino-Scherzo-Rondo.Presto

More superb playing at St Mary’s and Dr Mather says they will never stop!
What a treat to hear the Choral Preludes played so expertly on the piano .A real musician with that clarity of sound one can associate with the Hungarian School that gave us Foldes,Anda and Vasary.
Liszt too with three pieces that were unknown to me but revealed the same mellifluous outpouring of sounds.In Liszt’s hands,the scenic beauty and pastoral atmosphere with Bach a glimpse of God in all his mysterious ways.
All thrown to the wind,of course,with a whirlwind performance of Schumann’s much neglected second sonata.As fast as possible and even faster the young passionate Schumann exhorts as Domonkos threw himself fearlessly into this passionate outpouring of notes .But it only contrasted with the exquisite magic of the Andantino where Schumann pauses for a moment to share his song Im Herbste with us amidst his youthful yearning passions.Powerful and yet sensitive playing from a very fine musician.

Komm Gott immediately was the rousing call full of the sounds of pealing bells with great bass organ notes played with such clarity.The simplicity of Wachet auf with the tenor line allowed to emerge so naturally above the continuous flow of awakening that Bach so magically weaves.Nun komm’ too played with utter simplicity which led into the intricate weaving of notes in Nun Freut euch.The continuous stream of notes played with a clarity and precision above which the chorale was clearly etched leading to the triumphant close.Ich ruf zu dir is one of the most beautiful things that Bach wrote and was played with heartrending simplicity on a sumptuous plate of velvet bass sounds.Herr Gott was a mellifluous outpouring of sumptuous sounds. As Dr Mather,a confessed organist said, this afternoon he was almost convinced that they sound even better on the piano than the organ when played like this.

Three short atmospheric pieces by Liszt had me searching for information about them:Subtitled “Die Glocken von Rom (The Bells of Rome), Liszt’s Ave Maria was composed in 1862 at the request of Dr. Siegmund Lebert and Dr. Ludwig Stark who established the Stuttgart Conservatory. This work was written for the fourth part of a series of piano tutors, Grosse theoretish-praktische Klavierschule, assembled by Drs. Lebert and Stark for Conservatory students. A short but moving work, this piece shows Liszt’s leanings toward a compositional style that showcases the virtuoso abilities of the pianist and yet does not overshadow the simple theme of the prayer upon which this work is based. It was beautifully played the melodic line allowed to sing out amidst a kaleidoscope of shades and colours depicting the poetic atmosphere of Rome.

La cloche sonne S 238 is a little French folk song with a beautifully shaped tenor melody surrounded by the pealing of bells.

Faribolo pastour (‘Pastoral Whimsy’) is the title of a song by Jacques Jasmin (1798–1864) who wrote the dialect poem Françouneto in 1840 and may have invented the melody himself or else adapted it from a folk song. Liszt met Jasmin whilst touring at Agen in September 1844 and improvised upon Jasmin’s romance. Jasmin returned the compliment with an improvised poem which was later published with a dedication to Liszt.A haunting melody beautifully embellished when it appears so magically in the middle register of the piano.

The Sonata in G minor op 22 was Schumann’s last full-length attempt at the sonata genre, the other completed ones being the Sonata n.1 in F sharp minor op 11 and the Sonata No. 3 in F minor (Op. 14); he later wrote Three Piano Sonatas for the Young Op. 118. Because it was published before the F minor sonata, it was given an earlier sequence number (No. 2) but still kept its later opus number (Op. 22). It used to be the most often performed of the three but has fallen into neglect with the first sonata being performed almost too frequently!It was refreshing to hear it played by such a musician who could throw himself into the passionate outpourings with a great sense of drive allied to a sense of architectural shape.Schumann marks the score to be played as fast as possible and then to be played even faster indicating the driving energy that he wanted alternating with melodic outburst of great beauty.The development was played with great clarity and precision gradually leading to the passionate climax before the return of the main theme.There follows the coda that boils over like water at a hundred degrees.

Domonkos showed superb control in a work that all too often can loose clarity and sense of line as it sweeps across the horizon.The Andantino was pure magic as a perfect sense of balance allowed the melodic line to sing out so simply the elaborations just adding to the intensity of feeling that Schumann imbues this most beautiful oasis in a work driven by such passionate impulses.There were great contrasts in the Scherzo ,’very fast and marked’Schumann asks here too.The syncopated chords and melodic March just added shape to the general bustle and excitement that Schumann demands.Domonkos swept straight into the final Presto like a wind blowing in from afar.But there were beautiful melodic passages that Schumann does ask to be played slower and were beautifully played and lovingly shaped before bursting again into the intricate web of continuous sounds.Interrupted by an enormous dissonant chord which is where the fireworks really start.A whisper of sounds played prestissimo like a cadenza always faster and faster Schumann exhorts and Domonkos has the technique and above all intelligent musicianship that can interpret the real meaning behind Schumann’s excited exhortations.

Domonkos Csabay is a Hungarian pianist based in the UK since 2015. He is giving recitals as a concert soloist in many countries, while he also performs a wide range of classical repertoire as a chamber musician and accompanist. He has been on stage at many important concert venues such as Town Hall and Symphony Hall in Birmingham or Queen Elizabeth Hall and Milton Court in London, and collaborated with renowned artists and companies such as the CBSO, Orchestra of the Swan or Longborough Festival Opera. His versatility is well illustrated by diverse competition successes: besides winning the Birmingham International Piano Competition in 2016, prizes won as a composer in Romania and as member of a Lied duo in Wales. After finishing his piano studies with Pascal Nemirovski and John Thwaites at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, his interest towards collaborative pianism led him to continue studying for an Advanced Postgraduate Diploma in r é p é titeurship under Paul Wingfield and Robin Bowman. Domonkos was selected to become an accompanist at Samling Institute for Young Artists. During his years in Birmingham, he has started a career as a free-lancing musician, working with orchestras, choruses and other artistic groups. He has made several concerto appearances and has been invited to events such as Lichfield Festival, Wye Valley Chamber Music Festival or the Budapest Spring Festival. He made his debut on BBC Radio 3 broadcasting Beethoven. His debut CD is recorded and to be issued by the label Naxos in 2021. Domonkos is currently based in London, where he holds a position as accompanist fellow at the Royal College of Music.

Some superb playing from a real musician.All played without the score except for the final Choral Prelude that he obviously added to complete the set of 9.Unfortunately the score lay open on the piano for the full recital that could have given another impression.

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