Thursday 17 June 4.00 pm
An amazing week of piano playing crowned today by playing of such mastery I am lost for words after the breathtakingly aristocratic grandeur of Franck.But the rhythmic energy of Bach’s third English Suite,full of the most refined embellishments leading to a Sarabande of such overpowering intensity.The ravishing beauty and clarity that he brought to Beethoven’s op.110 will stay with me for a long time………..much more to follow once I have caught my breath.With a name like his – he is in fact related – one was not expecting visions of such ravishing beauty and subtle artistry.
Bach: English suite no 3 in G minor BWV 808
Prélude / Allemande / Courante/ Sarabande /
Gavotte I / Gavotte II / Gigue
Beethoven: Piano sonata in A flat Op 110
Franck: Prelude, Chorale and Fugue
Here is the link for this exceptional recital – enjoy ! https://youtu.be/Tyys6nnWf0g
I remember a performance in London by a still youthful Wilhelm Kempff.A programme that included this Bach Suite together with the Brahms F minor Sonata in performances where the kapellmeister Kempff could make the piano roar and sing like the mightiest of orchestras.As he got older his vision of the celestial was truly memorable but a shadow of his former prowess.A refined chamber orchestra rather than the Berlin Philharmonic.What he always maintained though was the driving rhythmic energy and the clarity of line that came from a head that was full of the great music that he had shared his life with.All this came to mind as I listened with baited breath to this young Russian trained pianist today.There was the same incisive crystalline clarity with a rhythmic impetus that was like being caught up in an ever flowing torrent.Ravishing contrasts in dynamics and very discreet ornamentation just brought the music vividly to life.It was overwhelming and impossible not to be enveloped in this ever moving wave of sounds.The incisive voicing seemingly without pedal was quite miraculous as we watched his limpet like fingers cling to the keys.A sensitivity that was created by work from a very early age when the fingers are formed almost as an extension of the keys.Agosti was fond of saying fingers like steel but wrists like rubber.But of course it is the message that is sent from the head and heart to the fingers that makes a true artist.
Dmitri is now being mentored by Vanessa Latarche ,head of keyboard at the RCM ,who I have known and admired since she was a little girl and the star pupil of the indomitable Eileen Rowe in Ealing.She has endowed in Dmitri her impeccable good taste and intelligent musicianship and it is this allied to his very early training that has formed the very considerabile artistry that we were treated to in the three great blocks of music that made up his programme today.
The Allemande of flowing beauty where the subtle ornamentation just added to the expression within the notes without stopping the constant stream of sounds.The Courante with the same relentless urgency was clear and fluid with ornaments that shone like jewels as they unwound like springs from his agile fingers.It was all leading to the great opening statement of the Sarabande played with deeply felt authority,the beautiful dynamic contrasts and ornamentation just adding to the intensity of this monumental statement.The release of tension came with the two Gavottes played with a disarming simplicity .The second Gavotte played with an unusual cleanliness and clarity instead of the more usual cloudy mumblings of a musette.He found once again the rhythmic intensity with the first notes of the Gigue to the final burst that took us to the breathless conclusion.A quite remarkable architectural vision of this work in which the pinnacle and point of arrival was the Sarabande in a fascinating multicoloured journey that was quite extraordinary.
It was in 1983 that I managed to entice Guido Agosti to share in public what had become legend in his studio in Siena.He chose to play op.110 and op.111 prefaced by short talks that although interesting were a means of enticing him into the concert hall.He gave me the facsimiles of the original manuscripts and I chose a few of the more problematic pages to adorn the walls of the Ghione theatre.Chosen to demonstrate the struggle that even Beethoven had to pin point the sounds that only he could hear in his secret ear.
They are still there forty years on and the recording of that performance is one of the rare documents that can testify to the marvels that this very private pupil of Busoni shared with those that would seek him out during the summer months in Siena.Agosti too had a crystalline sound like Kempff and it was this crystalline sound that I heard again today from the very first notes of this great song that Beethoven was to share with a world with which he had finally come to terms .Like Chopin with his Barcarolle that was written towards the end his life too,it is a great outpouring of mellifluous sounds of touching simplicity and beauty.A glimpse of the paradise that awaited them indeed.
Scrupulous attention to detail was quite remarkable from the very first notes -con amabilità with hairpin indications followed by sudden piano and a trill,a mere vibration that unwinds so naturally to the ravishing beauty of the melody that pours from Beethoven’s heart.Embellishments played ‘leggiermente’with very gentle melodic notes so subtly pointed.The part playing just before the development I have never heard played with such clarity and intelligence.One voice seemed to grow out of another leaving the pure magic of just single notes at the extremes of the keyboard played ever more tenderly before the the swirling question and answer from the cellos.The return to the recapitulation was one of those moments of pure magic with a crescendo and diminuendo to pianissimo before the return of the beautiful arabesques.Sometimes smoothing corners even with such loving care can lead to a break in the underlying rhythmic current though,as in the bleak chords that move gently from piano to pianissimo bringing us back to tempo again at the arabesques.It leads into the coda where his sense of part playing was that of a string quartet with every line making such sense as it created a magnificent whole.The final bass semiquavers were pointed in a miraculous way giving a very poignant shape to the final bars.An Allegro molto even here was allowed to sing, the rhythmic energy dissolved with such touching reticence before being rudely interrupted by fortissimo chords .A trio that unwound so mellifluously as the notes just flowed from his fingers with a fluidity and simplicity where most performances hang on a precipice.The silence between the final chords was pregnant with meaning until the final gentle reverberation that takes us to a magic world of sublime beauty.
Just waiting for that magic moment before placing the opening chords and shaping them with such subtle colours that gave a sense of shape to the seemingly sparse chords.Beethoven’s pedal marking scrupulously interpreted which is not easy on a modern piano.The ‘ bebung’ or repeated notes on pianos of the period would have merely been made to vibrate as they were miraculously today .Truly interpreted not just faithfully reproduced which demonstrated the subtle artistry of this young musician.The Adagio was played with such subtle flexibility as the arioso dolente was full of indications by Beethoven that can effect the natural flow of the music in lesser hands.Even the final bass notes were pregnant with meaning with Beethoven’s heart beat indicated so mercilessly with hairpins but translated so poignantly into sounds.A fugue of such clarity and architectural shape as rarely heard .The diminuendo before the great bass entry was like a great gate opening as the fugue weaved its mellifluous way to the magical reappearance of the Arioso.One of those moments of inspired genius where even Beethoven writes ‘loosing all energy with great sadness.’Such precise indications from Beethoven as he tries to notate the sense of flexibility and rubato that is in his private ear and heart ,all wonderfully interpreted by our young Russian musician. The great repeated chords are all the same but each sounding so different as his fingers drove deep into each one finding their secret meaning.The fugue in inversion is suddenly revealed as it is gradually revived in an outpouring of glory that was played with a passionate restraint of such aristocratic poise.The final tumultuous chord of A flat spread over the entire keyboard brought this extraordinary performance to a breathtaking conclusion .
A magnificent performance of Cesar Franck’s Prelude,Choral and Fugue of eloquence and grandeur.To quote Cortot:’The beauty of the Prelude,from which,twice rises a fervent and painful prayer overflowing from the heart of the man and from the inspiration of the musician.The mystical character of the Choral which compares uninterrupted lament with the eternal imploration of a humanity looking for justice and consolation…….The Fugue which crowns the work seems to emanate more from psychic necessity than from a principal of musical composition.‘There was a passionate outpouring of sounds in which again scrupulous attention to detail of dynamics and tempo gave a dignity and architectural shape to a work that can seem in lesser hands,rather rhetorical.Here there were such sensitive colours and a beauty of part playing as one hand answered the other.The clear rich sound of the opening of the Choral gave the perfect sense of religious serenity before the beauty of the choral spread across the entire keyboard. The gradual build up of the fugue was unrelenting until the magical reappearance of the prelude on clouds of sound that built up in tension until the final inexorable,tumultuous explosion
Dmitry Kalashnikov was born in Moscow in 1994. Graduated with distinction from the Moscow Middle Gnessins School of Music (class of Ada Traub and Tatiana Vorobieva) and the Moscow State Tchaikovsky Conservatory (class of Elena Kuznetsova). He is currently a postgraduate at the Royal College of Music in London (class of Vanessa Latarche). Prize-recipient at numerous international competitions. Grant-recipient of the New Names foundation, the International Yuri Rozum Charitable Foundation and the Revival foundation for cultural development. Has received the prize of the Support for Talented Youth of the Government of the Russian Federation, the City of Moscow Prize and the George Stennett Award, supported by a Neville Wathen Scholarship. Gives recitals at the Moscow Conservatoire, the Russian Gnessin Academy of Music, the Moscow International House of Music, London’s Wigmore Hall and at various venues in France, Austria, Poland, Estonia, Italy, Belgium and the United Kingdom. Has appeared on several occasions with the Russian National Orchestra under the baton of Mikhail Pletnev and in a duet with Pletnev on two pianos (conducted by Mischa Damev). In 2017 he gave a recital at the International Piano Festival. In December 2018 he appeared at the Concert Hall of the Mariinsky Theatre with the Mariinsky Orchestra. Takes part in various projects of the State Tretyakov Gallery. For several years he has run artistic soirees with the artist Gavriil Kochevrin for charitable events for orphans at the Marina Tsvetaeva House Museum. These concert performances have seen the participation of Yevgeny Knyazev, Alexander Rudin and Boris Andrianov.In September 2019 he took part in the opening of the season at the Nizhny Novgorod State Opera and Ballet Theatre. In November that year he was the victor of the Jaques Samuel Piano Competition in London for students at academic music institutions. Engagements for 2020 include appearances in Great Britain, Italy, Canada, France, Portugal and Japan.