Ariel Lanyi flying high at St Mary’s

Tuesday 1 June 4.00 pm 

Mozart: Rondo in D K 485

Debussy: Images Book 2
1. “Cloches à travers les feuilles” (Bells through the leaves)
2. “Et la lune descend sur le temple qui fut” (And the moon descends on the temple that was)
3. “Poissons d’or” (Golden fishes)

Scriabin: Sonata no.3 in F sharp minor Op 23

Albéniz: Iberia Book 3
El Albaicín / El Polo / Lavapiés

Some ravishing playing from Ariel who I have always admired in Schubert and Brahms but today the list will get even longer.A Mozart of such simplicity and purity followed by Debussy’s magical second book of Images.Ravishing and haunting as he sought out the sounds that most other pianists do not know exist.His Scriabin I have long admired for its great architectural sweep where the passionate outpourings are gradually brought to a sumptuous conclusion with a musicianship and sense of line that is rare indeed.I have spoken about it before (see below 2/11/20) His Albeniz is new to me and his infectious rhythmic energy and sumptuous palette of colour had me clicking my heels and shouting olé as he brought each of the three postcards to a loving conclusion.

Here is some information about the works he played and two reviews that I wrote just before the pandemic struck so unexpectedly.A truly memorable performance of Brahms 2nd Piano Concerto that Ariel has just recently played in the final of the Rubinstein Competition with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra where he was awarded the best Israeli performance prize.

The Rondo K 485 was written around the same time as the Piano Concertos in A major (K. 488) and C minor (K. 491). In the course of the work, a theme from the third movement of the Piano Quartet in G minor (K. 478) is taken up and further developed. In spite of its considerable length and its musical depth the work was apparently not published during the composer’s lifetime. The dedication, “Pour Mad:selle Charlotte de W…” (the rest is indecipherable) is an enigma. No matter which lady Mozart had in mind, this rondo is today one of his best loved and most played piano works.

Debussy’s second book of Images was composed in 1907.With respect to the first series of Images, Debussy wrote to his publisher, Jacques Durand : “Without false pride, I feel that these three pieces hold together well, and that they will find their place in the literature of the piano … to the left of Schumann, or to the right of Chopin… “Cloches à travers les feuilles” was inspired by the bells in the church steeple in the village of Rahon in Jura France and was the hometown of Louis Laloy, a close friend of Debussy and also his first biographer.”Et la lune descend sur le temple qui fut” (And the moon descends on the temple that was) was dedicated to Laloy and evokes images of East Asia suggested by Laloy, an expert in Chinese culture.The piece is evocative of Indonesian gamelan music, which famously influenced Debussy.”Poissons d’or” may have been inspired by an image of a golden fish in Chinese lacquer artwork or embroidery , or on a Japanese print. Other sources suggest it may have been inspired by actual goldfish swimming in a bowl.

Scriabin had been married to a young pianist, Vera Ivanovna Isaakovich, in August 1897. Having given the first performance of his Piano Concerto in Odessa, Scriabin and his wife went to Paris where he started to work on the new sonata .Scriabin is said to have called the finished work “Gothic”, evoking the impression of a ruined castle.Some years later however, he devised a different programme for this sonata entitled “States of the Soul”:First movement, Drammàtico:The soul, free and wild, thrown into the whirlpool of suffering and strife.Second movement, Allegretto:Apparent momentary and illusory respite; tired from suffering the soul wants to forget, wants to sing and flourish, in spite of everything. But the light rhythm, the fragrant harmonies are just a cover through which gleams the restless and languishing soul.Third movement, Andante:A sea of feelings, tender and sorrowful: love, sorrow, vague desires, inexplicable thoughts, illusions of a delicate dream.Finale, Presto con fuoco:From the depth of being rises the fearsome voice of creative man whose victorious song resounds triumphantly. But too weak yet to reach the acme he plunges, temporarily defeated, into the abyss of non-being.

Iberia is a suite composed between 1905 and 1909 .It is made up of four books of three pieces each.It is Albéniz’s best-known work and considered his masterpiece. It was highly praised by Debussy and Messiaen , who said: “Iberia is the wonder for the piano; it is perhaps on the highest place among the more brilliant pieces for the king of instruments”. Stylistically, this suite falls squarely in the school of Impressionism,especially in its musical evocations of Spain.Considered one of the most challenging works for the piano: “There is really nothing in Isaac Albeniz’s Iberia that a good three-handed pianist could not master, given unlimited years of practice and permission to play at half tempo. But there are few pianists thus endowed.”

Ariel Lanyi, born in 1997, began piano lessons with Lea Agmon just before his fifth birthday and made his orchestral debut at the age of 7. Since then, he has given numerous recitals in cities such as London, Paris (including Hôtel des Invalides and Radio France), Rome, Prague, Brussels, and regularly in concerts broadcast live on Israeli radio and television. He has appeared as a soloist with a variety of orchestras in the United Kingdom and Israel, including the Israel Symphony Orchestra and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, and has participated in festivals such as the Israel Festival, Ausseer Festsommer, Bosa Antica Festival, Miami Piano Festival, the Ravello Festival, and the Young Prague Festival. As a chamber musician, he has appeared with members (including leading members) of the Prague Philharmonia, the Czech Philharmonic, the Berliner Philharmoniker, the Concertgebouw Amsterdam, and the Israel Philharmonic, among others. In 2020, Ariel will appear in the Marlboro Festival. Ariel was awarded first prize at the 2017 Dudley International Piano Competition following a performance of Mozart’s Concerto in C minor, K. 491 in the final round, and in 2018, he was awarded the first prize in the Grand Prix Animato in Paris.In 2012, Ariel released Romantic Profiles on LYTE records, a recital album featuring Schumann’s Carnival Scenes from Vienna, Liszt’s Fantasy and Fugue on the theme B-A-C-H, Brahms’ Fantasies Op. 116, and Janacek’s Piano Sonata I.X.1905. Future projects include a recording for Linn Records. Ariel studied at the High School and Conservatory of the Jerusalem Academy of Music, in the piano class of Yuval Cohen. He also studied violin and composition, and was concertmaster of the High School and Conservatory Orchestra. He has also received extensive tuition from eminent artists such as Leon Fleisher, Robert Levin, Murray Perahia, Imogen Cooper, Leif Ove Andsnes, Steven Osborne, and the late Ivan Moravec. Currently, he studies as a full scholarship student at the Royal Academy of Music in London with Hamish Milne and Ian Fountain. Ariel is a recipient of the Munster Trust Mark James Star Award and the Senior Award of the Hattori Foundation.

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