Kasparas Mikuzis the outsider takes St Mary’s by storm

Tuesday April 20 4.0 pm 

Kasparas Mikuzis (piano) 

Bach: Prelude and Fugue C major BWV 846

Ciurlionis: Little sonata VL269-271

Schumann: Carnaval Op 9

Schumann: Arabesque Op 18

Liszt: Hungarian Rhapsody no 12 in C sharp minor

A memorable recital from a true outsider.
A twenty year old student at the Royal Academy who bravely volunteered to stand in at barely a weeks notice for an indisposed colleague and took St Mary’s by storm today.

The final tumultuous pages of Liszt’s 12th Hungarian Rhapsody where his total abandon allied to an infallible technical command had all the excitement that had us on our seats cheering Rubinstein all those years ago.But there was the great sense of character from the thunderous tremolandi at the beginning and the sumptuous seductive melody the flows out of it.There was a wonderful gypsy sense of excitement but with such clarity allied to such sensual colours.A real stylist with a natural sense of rubato that comes from an inner feeling that cannot be taught.A real sense of heroism as he played with such overpowering command.Great flourishes ending in such precisely clipped chords opening the gates to a truly heart melting outpouring of melody with such a subtle sense of rubato.Crazy ending played with the real panache that the great virtuosi of the past would treat us to as they whipped themselves and the audience into a frenzy.I have mentioned Rubinstein’s memorable performances but who could ever forget Gilels with the Spanish Rhapsody that had us screaming for more like a football mob on scoring the winning goal.

But it was from the very first notes of Bach that one could feel there was something special in the air.As Dr Mather said at the end:we have all had a go at the first prelude in C but the subtle colouring and aristocratic control revealed such interpretative skills that were so natural that music seemed pour out of this young man’s subtle refined fingers.A calm flowing fugue where everything was so clear but also bathed in an atmosphere of absolute smoothness.

Fingers that later in Schumann Carnaval were to take us on a memorable journey from the commanding opening to the subtle capriciousness of Arlequin.The true nobility of the Valse Noble with the same subtle counterpoints that I have never forgotten from Cortot’s memorable recording.
There was absolute stillness in Eusebius with such ravishing sounds where each note spoke so movingly to the next in a self communing of such eloquent nostalgia.Florestan bursting in,carefully looking over his shoulder and Coquette beautifully flowing with such sly looks.Papillons fluttering so cleverly over the keyboard as the Lettres dansantes were suitably fleet and evasive.The passionate outpourings of Chiarina led to the most ravishing beautifully poised Chopin.There was such subtle delicacy in Reconnaissance where the duet between the voices in the central section contrasted so well with the opening repeated notes.The frantic squabbling of Pantalon et Colombine finished in such a beautifully capricious way too.Has Paganini ever got up to his diabolic antics with such precision and rhythmic drive and after all that ,Schumann’s subtle chordal apparition almost worked as the Valse Allemande retraced her steps as if the great violin virtuoso had not been so invasive!
Aveu was so beautifully played with such delicate tone and subtle sense of balance.If the gentle asides in Promenade seemed a bit too thrown away,the continual forward movement was mesmerising as was the pianissimo at the end before the final burst of energy in the Promenade and the youthful conviction of the Dance of David against the Philistines (food for thought today where only football seems to take the headlines!).A remarkable performance of a work that can often fall into rhetoric when in a lesser musician’s hands.

The Arabesque that preceded Carnaval was played with a sense of wonderment and beauty that just whet our appetite for more.
We were certainly not disappointed!

The little sonata by fellow Lithuanian Ciurlionis just showed us how many works we still have to discover.With it’s shadowed octaves in the first movement passionately shaped.The subtle duet between the hands in the second and the Pastoral finale.

Mikalojus Konstantinas Čiurlionis (1875 –1911) was a Lithuanian painter, composer and writer.He contributed to symbolism and art nouveau, and was representative of the fin de siècle epoch and is considered one of the pioneers of abstract art in Europe.During his short life, he composed about 400 pieces of music and created about 300 paintings, as well as many literary works and poems. The majority of his paintings are housed in the Ciurlionis National Art Museum in Kaunas,Lithuania and his works have had a profound influence on modern Lithuanian culture.( Vlado Perlemuter was born in Kaunas)

It was his voyage of discovery and wonderment that was so captivating in a recital that was refreshing as it was illuminating.
His great natural musicality being helped by his remarkable teacher Diana Ketler ( the much admired Cristian Sandrin was a student of hers too).Wonderful to see what musicianship these very talented young musicians can experience from three remarkable ladies : Madam Ketler at the RAM,Madam Havill at the Guildhall and Madam Fisher at the RCM.
What wonders are going on behinds the scenes.
How grateful we all should be to them with a lifetime dedicated to helping these greatly talented young artists.

Born in Šilute, Lithuania, Kasparas Mikužis started playing the piano at the age of 6. At the early age he was taught piano by Liudmila Kašetiene. Later, he studied at the National M.K. Ciurlionis School of Arts and The Purcell School with Justas Dvarionas. Since 2019, Kasparas is studying at the Royal Academy of Music with the pianist Diana Ketler. Kasparas’ distinctive piano playing was acknowledged when he became a scholar of ‘SOS Talents’ foundation at the age of 9. Since then, Kasparas regularly performs across Europe. From 2011 Kasparas has performed in the yearly Christmas concerts held on the Champs Elysées in Paris organised by ‘SOS Talents’. In 2012 he was given the opportunity to appear in a concert in Batumi, Georgia, which was televised by Mezzo TV and watched by both the Lithuanian and Georgian Presidents. Kasparas’ playing was also broadcasted on Radio Classique in France twice. Moreover, he has performed in the United Nations Headquarters in Geneva on four occasions and at the EMMA World Summit of Nobel Prize Peace Laureates in Warsaw, Poland. In 2018, Kasparas was invited to the opening concert of V. Krainev competition for young pianists in Kharkiv, Ukraine, where he performed S. Prokofiev’s 3rd piano concerto. In 2019 he opened 91st season of newly refurbished Kharkiv Philharmonic hall, playing together with Kharkiv Philharmonic orchestra and conductor Yuri Yanko. In addition, Kasparas has appeared on stages of Lithuanian National Philharmonic hall, Concertgebouw Hall, ‘Fazioli’ factory hall, Steinway hall in Barcelona, St Martin-in-the-fields church, Purcell room at Southbank, Wigmore hall and others. Kasparas is a laureate of 22 international competitions. In 2015 Kasparas won 1st prize at the piano academy and competition “Pianale Junior” in Fulda, Germany. Later, in 2016, Kasparas triumphed in Vlinius, winning Grand Prix at the 10th international B. Dvarionas competition for young pianists. In 2018, he won 1st prize at the Scottish International Youth Piano Competition in Glasgow, Scotland. Later this year he became two times 1st prize winner at the XXVIII Roma International Piano Competition by achieving 1st prizes in categories up to 19 and 25 years. In 2017 the Mstislav Rostropovich’s charity & support foundation ‘Pagalba Lietuvos Vaikams’ awarded Kasparas with their support and later in the year he received a letter of gratitude from the president of Lithuania for his role in representing Lithuania on an international stage. In 2018 Kasparas released his first CD album together with the “KNS Classical”, which is now being streamed on the major music platforms. Kasparas became a scholar of Drake Calleja Trust in 2019 and he is also supported by the ‘Talent Unlimited’ foundation.


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