Mozart triumphs at Torlonia with Jonathan Ferrucci -Pietro Fresa -Sieva Borzak with encore at Teatro Vespasiano in Rieti

Sabato 30 ottobre ore 20 Teatro Torlonia
Concerto per pianoforte e orchestra n. 17 in sol maggiore K 453
Jonathan Ferrucci, pianoforte
Concerto per pianoforte e orchestra n. 27 in si bemolle maggiore K 595
Pietro Fresa, pianoforte
Roma Tre Orchestra
Sieva Borzak, direttore
Guido Barbieri, narrazione

An evening of sublime music at Teatro Torlonia with two of the finest pianists of the younger generation playing two of Mozart’s most perfect creations : the concerto in G K453 and K595.Two young musicians brought together by the enlightened artistic director of Roma 3 orchestra ,Valerio Vicari with brief introductions by one of the most knowledgeable journalists in Italy,Guido Barbieri.

Guido Barbieri

A voice well known to listeners of Rai 3 La stanza della musica and someone whose articles in the Messaggero were sought out eagerly in the good old days for unusually informed criticism.He also invited pianists from the Keyboard Trust to perform all the Rachmaninov concertos for the Amici della Musica of Ancona.And on another occasion he invited other pianists of the Keyboard Trust to bring joy and comfort to the people of Aquila stricken so cruelly by an earthquake some years ago.

As Valerio Vicari explains in the programme of ‘La musica è una cosa meravigliosa’ each of the four concerts is enriched by an expert introduction that describes the world of the composer,the sense of the works in the programme and their part in the evolution of music.Well Guido not only did all that but he also amused and enlightened us with letters of the time describing the reaction that the works had produced. Jonathan had opened this important season at Torlonia with a performance of the Goldberg Variations introduced by another celebrated musicologist Sandro Cappelletti.He went on to repeat that performance again ,at the beginning of the week,in the same collaboration with the KCT in Florence in the Harold Acton Library.

The Piano Concerto No. 17 K.453,according to the date that the composer himself noted on the score was completed on April 12, 1784.The date of the premiere is uncertain though but Mozart probably performed it in his concert on 29 April 1784 at the Kärntnertortheater.

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The music Mozart jotted down in his expense book is fairly close to the opening bars of the third movement of the concerto K 453, which Mozart had completed a few weeks earlier (12 April). Presumably Mozart taught the bird to sing this tune in the pet store, or wherever it was that he bought it.

The finale is a variation movement whose theme was sung by Mozart’s starling that the composer’s pet and is remembered for the anecdote of how Mozart came to purchase it, for the funeral commemorations Mozart provided for it, and as an example of the composer’s affection in general for birds The first record of the starling is the entry Mozart made in his expense book when he bought it on 27 May 1784. When the bird died, on 4th June 1787 he arranged a funeral procession, in which everyone who could sing had to join in, heavily veiled – made a sort of requiem, epitaph in verse

Jonathan in prova K 453

The Piano Concerto No. 27 K.595 was first performed early in 1791, the year of Mozart’s death and is one of his most perfect creations.Although all three movements are in a major key ,minor keys are suggested, as is evident from the second theme of the first movement (in the dominant minor), as well as the presence of a remote minor key in the early development and of the tonic minor in the middle of the Larghetto.Another interesting characteristic of the work is its rather strong thematic integration of the movements, which would become ever more important in the nineteenth century.The principal theme of the Larghetto, for instance, is revived as the second theme of the final movement.The principal theme for the finale was also used in Mozart’s song “Sehnsucht nach dem Frühling” (also called “Komm, lieber Mai”), K. 596, which immediately follows this concerto in the Kochel catalogue.

Pietro in prova with Sieva Borzak in K595

Two young pianists with completely different characters brought together by the genial Sieva Borzak.He had immediately resolved problems of acoustic in the rehearsal as he brought the piano as close to the edge of the stage as possible allowing the wind players to be able to have a more chamber music rapport with the piano which is so fundamental in these mature concertos of Mozart.

Perlemuter who made his debut in Italy at the Ghione theatre in 1984 at the age of 81 and went on to play every year and give Masterclasses until his final concert there in 1991

It was my old teacher Vlado Perlemuter who,making his debut in Italy in the Ghione theatre in Rome at the age of 81,insisted much to our alarm that the piano be less under the proscenium as possible at the extreme limit of the stage.Perlemuter,who had known Ravel and Fauré had a lifetime of experience of playing in theatres that were not specifically designed for instrumental music.

Sieva with many less years than Perlemuter immediately diagnosed the problem and like all great professionals found a simple solution.The orchestra under his hands were able to give all the dramatic contrasts and operatic energy to the earlier G major concerto together with the sublime legato and serenity of the B flat concerto.Leaving the important dialogue between wind and piano to a chamber music participation between the pianist and the instrumentalists that was extremely moving.A fine ensemble that Valerio Vicari and Roberto Pujia have been promoting for the past sixteen years giving a much needed platform to many remarkable young musicians at the beginning of their careers.

Jonathan appeared on stage in a striking green silk shirt like a painter before his canvas.From the very first notes there was a luminosity to the sound that integrated so well with the orchestra as a chamber music rapport was immediately instilled.Some very discreet ornamentation was added with such style and good taste with the same knowledge of his mentor Robert Levin.He even wrote his own cadenzas that like the ornamentation just illuminated Mozart’s own thoughts without imposing any unwanted external intrusion which is so often the case in lesser hands.

A little knowledge can in fact be a dangerous thing as we see from that other sublime concerto -Beethoven fourth – often played these days with ornamentation and rolled chords ad nauseam just because it was mentioned in letters of the period.It is a strange state of affairs because Beethoven was quite capable of writing these things down as in other of his works.The instruments of the period too did not have the sustaining power of todays !Mention should also be made of Mauro Buccitti the master craftsman who has turned this very discreet Yamaha piano into an instrument of such beauty and colour that the miracle of Mozart could mesmerise a full hall.An audience too that despite the complete block of a city under siege for the G 20 summit managed to get to this concert punctually filling every seat in this most beautiful of halls.

Jonathan looking directly at the wind players as he accompanied them with ravishing scales so delicately played followed by the question and answer between them as they brought such character to the purity and innocence of this concerto.Mozart had written the cadenzas for this concerto but Jonathan’s were so much in style and with a sense of invention and discreet showmanship the same that Mozart himself must have often improvised in public.Instead of being invasive and out of style they were so well integrated that they just shed light on a much loved work that was truly reborn under this young man’s dedicated fingers.The Andante was from the very opening played with ravishing sound and an ornamentation that seemed to shed light and bring to life the final notes of the opening cadence with almost operatic finesse.In the sublime middle section in minor key Jonathan brought a stillness that was very moving leading to his own cadenza again of style and invention that like the first movement seemed to bring this work vividly to life.I found the Allegretto a little slow at the beginning but as it progressed it became completely convincing as the melody of the second section seemed to grow out of the original ‘starling’ melody.Played by Jonathan with startling clarity and some ornaments that just added to the fun they were all having.The final operatic presto was played with a great injection of rhythmic energy by the orchestra and taken up by the soloist in an exhilarating ending of charm and character.

Pietro Fresa in sombre mood for Mozart’s last Concerto that was first performed in the last year of Mozart’s short life

Pietro Fresa on the other hand in a much more sombre dark suit as befitted the dark and subtle beauty of the B flat Concerto.The sublime opening barely a whisper from an orchestra where exhilaration and rhythmic excitement had been transformed into a serene meditative atmosphere.And Mozart’s sense of energy of almost operatic proportions was played with great precision and contrasts by an orchestra following so attentively the ‘Giulinian’ shaping from Sieva’s expressive hands.The scene was set for the mellow simplicity of Pietro Fresa’s opening statement.Played with a purity of sound almost chiselled as it penetrated to the very back of the hall with extraordinary clarity.Injecting the delicate passage work with the romantic fervour of a young man on a voyage of discovery.Some very personal touches gave great character to the continual dialogue with the orchestra.The gradual build up in the development section was beautifully integrated into the orchestra and led to a sublime outpouring of melodic invention before the gradual return to the recapitulation.The precision of his articulation was remarkable in its clarity and shape and led to Mozart’s own cadenza that was played with great style.It brought the same question and answer that we had heard earlier with the orchestra but now alone played with even more delicacy and character.

The Larghetto was played with a childlike simplicity at the opening where Pietro’s minute attention to Mozart’s phrasing brought such shape to this seemingly innocent melody.The absolute simplicity of the melodic line was delicately embellished and added to the sublime beauty of this movement.The opening melody’s final statement occurs as a shadowy whisper, the piano, flute and violins sharing the melody and creating an almost ghostly sonority played with real chamber music intensity by Pietro.The final Allegro was played with a beguiling sense of rhythm as Pietro took turns to dialogue with the orchestra bringing such buoyancy and energy to this seemingly innocent bucolic movement.Sometimes overdoing the contrasts though as a young man exhilarated by the masterpiece under is agile fingers.Always returning though to sublime beauty as the end of Mozart’s cadenza dissolves into the magical last appearance of the main theme.The entry of the strings underneath creates one of those sublime moments that is the genius of Mozart and leads to the simple final flourishes of Mozart’s last great piano concerto.

Sieva Borzak -Valerio Vicari -Pietro Fresa -Jonathan Ferrucci -Roberto Pujia

Encore at the Reate Festival at Teatro Vespasiano in Rieti just 60km from Rome.Not only the two piano concertos as before but also the Symphony n.40 in G minor K 550

Jonathan Ferrucci in sombre attire in Rieti giving a ravishing performance of K 453

The date of completion of this symphony is known exactly since Mozart in his mature years kept a full catalog of his completed works; he entered the 40th Symphony into it on 25 July 1788.Work on the symphony occupied an exceptionally productive period of just a few weeks during which time he also completed the 39 and 41 symphonies (26 June and 10 August, respectively).Nikolaus Harnoncourt conjectured that Mozart composed the three symphonies as a unified work, pointing, among other things, to the fact that the Symphony No. 40, as the middle work, has no introduction (unlike No. 39) and does not have a finale of the scale of No. 41’s Jupiter .A final great trilogy.The 40th symphony exists in two versions and the autograph score of both versions were acquired in the 1860s by Brahms who later donated the manuscripts to the Gesellschaft der Musikfreunde in Vienna.

Pietro Fresa being rapturously received after K595

The orchestra were allowed free reign under Sieva Borzak who conducting without the score was free to let the music flow so naturally and with such character.

Sieva Borzak living Mozart G minor with his superb players

From the whispered urgency of the Molto Allegro and the deeply expressive contrapuntal Andante.Complimented by a rather militaristic Menuetto (that I found a little on the fast side ) with a Trio that had to be slowed down quite considerably.It did though give great contrast with the burning intensity of the Allegro assai Finale.Some very fine playing from this ensemble who applauded Sieva Borzak at the end for taking them into a realm of magnificent music making together.

An ovation for a superb performance of Mozart G minor
Teatro Vespasiano – Rieti

Yuanfan Yang -Premio Chopin 2018 celebrates the 30th anniversary of Rome International Piano Competition.

It was a personal invitation to play in Rome for the press conference of the 30th anniversary from the indomitable Marcella Crudeli (the Fanny Waterman of Italy!) that brought Yuanfan Yang back to Rome.A happy coincidence as the Keyboard Charitable Trust which has been promoting Yuanfan is also celebrating its 30th anniversary this year

Maria Elena Cuomo President of the Cuomo Foundation

Marcella ,in her 80th year had just a few days ago concluded her yearly Masterclasses for young musicians . And is now ready for the competition that she has brought to the Eternal city for the past 30 years.One of the very few capital cities that had been deprived of an important International Piano Competition until Marcella took the reigns .A yearly competition that she has guided with the same force and dedication that Dame Fanny brought to Leeds.It was a privilege for me to be present this summer when she was awarded the Premio for ‘A life in music’ in Sorrento having already received official recognition from the President of Italy.

Yuanfan having won the ‘Premio Chopin’ in 2018 it was Chopin that took pride of place in a programme that included the Preludes op 28 together with three Debussy Preludes from Book 2 and his own composition the Waves ( written ten years ago and awarded many prestigious prizes including BBC television and radio performances).Yuanfan is not only a formidable pianist but a composer who tells me that he has just finished his third piano concerto which he wrote in the lockdown period and is very happy with the result.His first concerto toured China when he was still a teenager!A real thinking musician with that rare gift of improvisation,an almost almost forgotten art these days but an essential part of a complete musician in the past.

Marcella Crudeli congratulating Yuanfan and offering ‘La ci darem la mano’ for and improvised encore

And it was with such delight that after the tumultuous applause that greeted his ‘superb refined and mature’ performance of the Chopin Preludes that our hostess asked him to improvise on ‘La ci darem la mano’.An astonished and delighted audience after such a breathtaking performance of quite transcendental playing were invited to offer a melody for him to improvise on.

‘Carmen’in the style of Scott Joplin brought this small elite gathering to their feet as they more than confirmed the choice of this Premio Chopin 2018 and looked forward after the pandemic to the new live edition from 4-16 November.

San Giovanni Battista de’Genovesi the press conference

Yuanfan Yang is helped by the Keyboard Charitable Trust of which I am a trustee and co artistic director and it was only last month that he was invited to play at La Mortella on Ischia in a long awaited collaboration between the KCT and the Walton Foundation.He was also invited to play in Sorrento by that other tireless promoter of all things musical in the Sorrento peninsular :Paolo Scibilia.I wrote a detailed appreciation of his magnificent performances some of which we heard today in Rome

The indefatigable Marcella Crudeli with Yuanfan and Pawel Gorajski conductor of the Roma 3 Orchestra that plays in the final concert
The Rome University Orchestra founded 16 years ago by their enlightened artistic director Valerio Vicari
Yuanfan with pianist colleague ,also helped by the KCT,Drew Steanson in Rome by chance on a study holiday in Italy.
A radiant Marcella Crudeli after the superb performances from her Premio Chopin 2018 Gold medal winner Yuanfan Yang

Jonathan Ferrucci the return of a warrior The Goldberg Variations in Florence

Jonathan Ferrucci with M° Carmassi whose words of admiration for the performance were full of poetic vision and intelligence

I have written many times about Jonathan Ferrucci and his lock down project to learn the Goldberg Variations.

As he says a lifetime may not be enough to enter completely into the genial mind of J.S.Bach.One can but try and this is the start of a remarkable voyage of discovery.Now on his fifth public performance I think that from the spell that he created in Florence last night it was evidence enough that he is on the right trail.Seventy five minutes of total silence from an elite audience surrounded by the books of that remarkable aesthete Harold Acton.

Jonathan like Acton was born in Florence both bringing back their experiences from abroad to the cradle of culture in what Rostropovich described as the Museum of the World.

Giovanni Carmassi – Jonathan’s early mentor whose book of conversations with Prof Piero Ferrucci is every bit as significant as that of Heinrich Neuhaus

It was nice to meet at last Jonathan’s remarkable teacher Giovanni Carmassi who had instilled such poetry and wisdom into his young prodigy before sending him out into the world to perfect his studies with Joan Havill in London.

Jonathan is now being mentored by Angela Hewitt who has indeed inherited the mantle of Rosalyn Tureck as the High Priestess of Bach.I brought Rosalyn Tureck to Florence in the 90’s when she was 78 to play these very variations at La Pergola and she became immediately the ‘Diva’ of Florence.The mantle has now passed to Angela Hewitt whose approach to Bach is more human and less monumental than Tureck but their total dedication allows them to get as close as is possible to the core of the genius of J.S.Bach.

Jonathan is fast on this trail too as the minutes of aching silence that greeted the end of the Goldberg last night was proof enough.I have already written in detail about his performances but last night I could hear that he has refined his ornamentation and dug deeper into the sublime 25th variation and added a solidity to the 28th.His performance had the authority of someone who is living with the music and it is gradually but surely entering his being as it directs his spirit to the glory of the soul of Bach which is of course To the Glory of God!

Simon Gammell OBE the enlightened director of the British Institute in Florence

It is to Simon Gammell that our thanks must go for allowing the Keyboard Charitable Trust to bring some of its finest young pianists to play in the Harold Acton Library of the British Institute in Florence.Jonathan’s recital is the opening of a series of seven recitals that will fill these hallowed walls with the sound of music after this long lockdown period.The next date in this series is Thursday 27th January followed by Thursday appointments on 24/2,24/3,5/5,16/6,30/6 .More detailed information will be found eventually on the web site of the British Institute and the Keyboard Charitable Trust

The British Institute in Florence
Room with a view indeed
The British Institute Lungarno Guicciardini
Florence’s best kept secret Piazza S.Spirito just behind the B.I.
Jonathan at the end of his fifth voyage of discovery

Dmitri Alexeev into a New Golden World with Jianing Kong – Victor Maslov. Caterina Grewe-Vitaly Pisarenko at St John’s

Dmitri Alexeev

A Golden Age of piano playing was very much in evidence at the first of four concerts that Dmitri Alexeev has dedicated to his teacher Dmitri Bashkirov under the title ‘Beyond Boundaries’.
In fact we were transported by four artists that have come under his influence to a magic world of radiance with a seemless stream of sumptuous golden sounds.

St John’s Smith Square

Can it be the hall,the piano or is it the supreme artistry that Alexeev has shared with his colleagues and that they have transformed into their own world taking us back to the Golden Age of piano playing.
An age when pianists were magicians as they could turn a piano into an orchestra as easily as they could share intimate whispered confessions.
Through a mastery of balance they could persuade us that the piano could sing as beautifully as any of the great bel canto divas of the day.
It is through a subtle sense of touch and complete mastery of the pedals ,that Anton Rubinstein described as ‘the soul of the piano’,that miraculously a black box full of hammers a wires can be transformed into a magic box of sparkling jewels .

Patsy Fou – the widow of Fou Ts’ong

And so it was tonight that we were enveloped in a sound world of sumptuous beauty in the hall the Fou Ts’ong always said was his favourite hall in London- it is much easier to play intimately in a big hall than it is in a small one he would often remark.And it was Ts’ong who was in my thoughts tonight as I met his widow coming into this beautiful hall.
The wonderful red drape backdrop and the refined central chandelier reminded me of all the great pianists I have heard here in the good old days.

It is good to be back and especially to hear artists that truly love the piano in a world where quantity has taken priority over quality and velocity has taken priority over artistry.

Jianing Kong

Jianing Kong’s Bach I could only admire from behind closed doors as both Patsy Fou and I were convinced it was a 7.30 start instead of 7.
Instead of being early we were late c’est la vie !However I did hear his three Chopin studies.The so called ‘Butterfly’ study op 25 n.9 just hovered over the keys and the final delicate bar was judged to the perfection of an intelligent artist.

Facsimile Chopin op.25 n.5/6

Intelligence and beauty too were in evidence in the double thirds study op 25 n.6 where the beautiful bass melody was given the just priority over the transcendental double third accompaniment.Op 25 n.5 where the sumptuous middle section melody was played with ravishing beauty and the accompaniment just shimmered as it hovered above it.
Rubinstein often used to play this study on its own but a closer look at the score indicates quite clearly that the pedal links the rather strange question mark ending of number five with the gentle rustle of number six that emerges from it.

Victor Maslov

A newly bearded Victor Maslov played 8 Etudes-Tableaux op 33 with such subtle sounds and jeux perlé passages that swept across the keyboard as we were reminded of the magic that Rachmaninov himself could conjure in his performances.
I remember Vlado Perlemuter telling me that Rachmaninov would appear on stage looking as though he had swallowed a knife but then produced the greatest romantic sounds that he had ever heard.
And so it was with Victor whose playing I know well but this evening he even surpassed his own prowess with such sumptuous romantic sounds of such subtlety and a characterisation of each study that was mesmerising.
I suggested to Victor afterwards that he certainly keeps this new beard!

Caterina Grewe

There was more ravishing beauty from Caterina Grewe not only to see her in such a beautiful blood red gown but to listen to the velvety beauty of sounds that she could produce.
A wondrous sense of balance allowed the melodic line of the three Liszt transcriptions of Schubert songs to emerge so naturally.
‘Am I too loud’ was the name of Gerald Moore’s autobiography and I would often compliment Graham Johnson on being allowed by singers to keep the piano lid fully open.
‘But I am a good driver’ would be Graham’s spirited reply.
It was exactly this sense of balance that Caterina had too,where the accompaniment is an integral part of the story that Schubert is unraveling.
A complete understand of the meaning of the poetry was immediately evident from the sounds that poured out of the piano where Caterina was both singer and accompanist.
There was a wonderful luminous sound after the deep brooding waves of sound with which Liszt depicts the great drama about to unfold in his B minor Ballade.The sumptuous melody was played with ravishing seduction as it is transformed by Liszt in ever more affusive pyrotechnics in true Hollywoodian style.
In Caterina’s hands it was full of overpowering emotion as her complete technical control allowed her to give full reign to her fantasy with sumptuous sounds and breathtaking virtuosity.
Always with the musical line of this great drama in view it was not just an empty display of virtuosity but a continuous outpouring of emotions.

Vitaly Pisarenko

Last but certainly not least enters the minute figure of Vitaly Pisarenko,winner at only 20 of the International Liszt Competition in Utrecht and has since gone on to win a top prize in the Leeds Competition too.He has for some years been ravishing connoisseurs of piano playing worldwide with his refined aristocratic performances especially of Liszt.
In fact it was in Liszt’s transcription of Schubert’s Gretchen am Spinnrade that a miraculous web of subtle sound kept the audience mesmerised.The absolute control and the enormous dynamic range was breathtaking as the melodic line emerged from the whispered spinning wheel to gradually build up to an astonishing fortissimo climax only to immediately allow the even more whispered spinning wheel to emerge at the end with heart rending beauty that had the audience on the edge of their seats.
The rarely hear Faribolo Pasteur was give such a seemingly simple performance as Caterina had done with Du bust die Ruh where art truly conceals art.
His performance of the solo version of Liszt’s Totentanz was a quite astonishing display of transcendental virtuosity but also of supreme musicianship as he kept the architectural line of these extraordinary variations on the Dies Irae as they unfold in ever more astonishing funambulistics.
An extraordinary exhibition of virtuosity like the great pianists of another age.He tells me he will be playing the original for piano and orchestra in Moscow in December.

Dmitri Alexeev-Jianing Kong- Victor Maslov- Patsy Fou

A wonderful way to end a feast of music with Dmitri Alexeev in the audience visibly moved by the heartfelt tribute to his great mentor Dmitri Bashkirov.
I had heard Bashkirov only once in a recital in Rome and was reminded of him as I listened to the Schubert Liszt songs,enraptured today as I was then all those years ago

I am now in Rome where Dmitri Alexeev was for many years one of our most cherished artists together with Fou Ts’ong,Peter Frankl,Annie Fischer ,Vlado Perlemuter and Shura Cherkassky

Ileana Ghione with Dimitri Alexeev in 2003 in Teatro Ghione Rome
Teatro Ghione in Rome
Victor Maslov and Vitaly Pisarenko being congratulated by Jessie Harrington
Dmitri Alexeev in discussion with Linn Rothstein
Caterina Grewe

Lisa Peacock sanatising the piano

Magisterium of Marcella Crudeli takes Viterbo and Rome by storm

Marcella Crudeli on her crusade to help and instruct young musicians.In the Chiesa Valdese in Rome

On the eve of her International Piano Competition the indefatigable Marcella Crudeli in her 80th year still has time to present the young musicians from her masterclasses in a programme of piano concertos.

Here is Yuanfan Yang winner of the last International Piano Competition who will play in Rome next Thursday at the press conference for the competition to be held next month.

Marcella Crudeli and Prof.Franco Ricci in Viterbo

Streamed live from Viterbo thanks to the equally indomitable Prof Franco Ricci a concert that I will listen to live tomorrow in the Eternal City.

Mozart concertos K 414 and 415 played with impeccable taste and rhythmic flair.
A Mendelssohn G minor concerto that made you marvel with what simplicity and facility Mendelssohn could spin so many notes with scintillating jeux perlé and heart on sleeve sentiment.To finish with Beethoven’s C minor concerto played with a great sense of architectural form and formidable contrasts.
Each of the five teenage solists gave an encore of studies Chopin op 25 n.1 -7-12 and op 10 n 5 and Debussy Pour Les arpèges composée
An orchestra only too happy to encourage and follow these budding young virtuosi under the complacent Daniele Cadiz striving to get the very best out of his musicians .
A feast of music and a joy to watch with what seriousness and passion these young musicians are dedicating their youth .And so to the Chiesa Valdese in the centre of Rome for the final festive occasion at the end of Marcella Crudeli’s annual series of Masterclasses for talented young pianists.After each performance helping and encouraging these young musicians – work,work work as they dedicate more of their youth to music.

Francesco Pambianco

Sixteen year old Francesco Pambianco from Arezzo played the first movement of Mozart K 414 and was able to transmit the wonder of Mozart with great rhythmic precision and simple musicality.His encore of Chopin study op 25 n.1 was beautifully played but would have benefitted from the same simplicity that he had brought to Mozart.

Emanuele Nazzareno Piovesano

Emanuele Nazzareno Piovesan is fifteen and from Gallarate – Milan and played the first movement of Mozart K415. Schnabel famously remarked that Mozart was to easy for children but too difficult for adults and it was the simplicity and purity of a teenager that he brought to this early concerto that was so refreshing .His encore of op 25 n.7 a study in balance and cantabile is marked Lento.Some beautiful things but a little too slow at the opening to allow the melody to sing unimpeded by the accompaniment but as it got more agitated he rose to the occasion magnificently as he began to listen to the beautiful sounds he was producing.

Alessandro Rolli

Alessandro Rolli is nineteen from Trieste and played the first two movements of Mendelssohn G minor.He is more an artist than an artisan .The slow movement was beautifully played and the interplay between soloist and orchestral very well managed.The Allegro was played ‘con fuoco’ but could have been played with more rhythmic precision to contrast with his beautiful Andante.And it was his poetic Debussy Arpeggio study that ignited his real flair for keyboard imagination and colour.

Emanuele Savron

Emanuele Savron a veteran at twenty two and is also from Trieste.Beethoven 3rd concerto with playing of real beauty in the slow movement but slightly lacking in detail and rhythmic precision in the opening Allegro .His encore of Chopin’s last study op 25 was full of youthful passion and driving force even if the left hand sometimes trailed behind his impetuous right.

Michele Apollonio

Michele Apollonio is seventeen and from Campobasso and gave a very clean and rhythmic reading of the last movement of Beethoven’s 3rd Concerto.His encore of the ‘Black key study’ op 10 n.5 showed real flair and technical accomplishment even if the final octaves were more suited to Tchaikowsky than Chopin at the end.

Not all work but fun too!While Marcella Crudeli is out counting the votes !
Daniele Camiz applauding these young musicians in Viterbo
Daniele Camiz and his orchestra ICNT
A full house in Rome

Henry Kennedy – The Resonate Symphony Orchestra – resounding with joy and passion

Superb singing from Rachel Nicholls with a voice of such velvet purity and intensity but it was the orchestra that was so extraordinary under its conductor Henry Kennedy.Some of the finest young players from the London conservatories united under their founder conductor to produce a remarkably rich and sensitive sound.

An orchestra that listens to itself is one to cherish indeed but when you add their youthful passion and technical mastery you have an orchestra that can turn Bruckner’s mighty Romantic Symphony into the masterpiece that it truly is.
A sense of line and overall architectural shape that was so clearly etched.Like Jochum and the great German school the brass was allowed it’s just weight never overpowering the sumptuous string playing.Playing of silvery lightness that built to tumultuous ravishing fortissimi.Such sensitivity in the Wesendonck Lieder that created the world that the superb Rachel Nicholls was describing from The Angel to the magical Dreams via the Agonies and the wheel of time that measures eternity.

Alim Beisembayev and Thomas Kelly Ritorno dei vincitori

Great pride and celebrations for bringing victory home to the Royal College of Music

Alim Beisembayev

Top prize winners at the Leeds International Piano Competition – Fanny Waterman Gold Prize -Alim Beisembayev and top prize winner Thomas Kelly

Thomas Kelly

Congratulations to their long term teachers Tessa Nicholson ( Alim) and Andrew Ball(Thomas ) and the wonderful work of Vanessa Latarche for caring and helping to promote these wonderful hopes for the future.
The sound of Thomas has always astonished me from the very first time I heard him win the Joan Chissell Schumann prize some years ago.Alim I heard as a teenager when he was st the Purcell School and was amazed by his technical and musical control.
The first notes of Brahms op 119 from Thomas just took us by surprise as the ravishingly liquid sounds penetrated to the back of the hall.
Alim astounded and astonished with his quicksilver precision and identification with Ligeti’s transcendentally complex studies.
I remember Cherkassky coming to stay with me one summer with a ragged piece of paper stamped BBC with what seemed as though a drunken spider had crawled over the page .Shura learnt one contemporary piece a year well into his 80’s and he loved the idea of announcing Escalier Diabolique.
We spent many hilarious times trying to figure it out but if we had heard Alim we would have given up in shame.
Two great talents- in fact great artists – ready to take the major concert halls by storm

Great friends too.
It was Thomas who gave up his own time in preparation for Leeds to act as orchestra for Alim for the two concertos required.
Wonderfully refreshing to see them united in music and friendship …….and what music!

Ariel Lanyi – Imogen Cooper Music Trust The trials and tribulations of a great artist

Ariel at the end of his monumental performance

Ariel Lanyi at Pavilion Road for the Imogen Cooper Music Trust.
Not only a Hammerklavier of searing intensity but a bouquet of perfumed sounds in Debussy and a kaleidoscope of incredible impressionistic sounds in Bartok.
I have never forgotten the sound world of Radu Lupu that took us by storm in Leeds all those years ago in this very suite Out of doors by Bartok.

The same sound world that Ariel discovered today and kept us mesmerised as Bartok’s incredible imagination is matched by his transcendental skill to make these sounds come vividly to life.
It is no coincidence that Ariel is flushed from his success in Leeds over 40 years later to recreate such magic.
And this was just a prelude to a monumental performance of Beethoven’s Hammerklavier Sonata op 106.

Taking Beethoven at his word with the treacherous opening leaps played with fearless courage and conviction.
This is not a play safe sonata and it comes with an X certificate for all those intrepid souls that dare enter its hallowed world.Here is the very spirit of Beethoven who with this sonata had brought the form to a collapse of atomic proportions.
A slow movement both adagio and appassionato that held us transfixed for over twenty minutes -transfixed and transformed as the mighty fugue enters helter skelter in this all or nothing world from which Beethoven knew there was no possible solution.Like Bach before him in the Art of Fugue he had tied himself in knots from which the ultimate solution was only the paradise that awaited as he at last came to terms with life with his final trilogy .

Dame Imogen presenting the concert

Not at all sure where the title of Sunshine and Shadows came from but it certainly did not describe the magic world the Ariel re-enacted for us in this extraordinary recital from a recent top prize winner in the Leeds International Piano Competition.There was such a startling range of colours and a sense of timelessness in the Cloches à travers le feuilles with the barely whispered opening and the melody with a clarity ‘un peu en dehors’ that was so perfectly judged.The gentle atmospheric sounds ‘comme une buée irisée’with a deeply nostalgic melody ‘expressif et doucement appuyé‘The gradual build up to the great peal of bells and a return of the melody even more desperately isolated ‘avec un sentiment de regret’ before the sounds disintegrated and only the final two beseeching yearning notes were left isolated in the rarified air.Ariel set the atmosphere from the very first notes and the audience followed with baited breath every nuance and subtle inflection.Has a temple ever been better described in the moonlit atmosphere that Ariel created?The magical sounds at the end were sublime where he barely touched the keys as they were allowed to ‘faites vibrer’ in the fading moonlight.Have goldfish ever been so lucky to wallow in such sumptuous waters?The gentle waters ‘aussi lèger que possible’ gradually getting more agitated as the goldfish wallowed in these ravishing waters only to disappear into the distance ‘en serrant jusqu’à la fin .

A complete change of atmosphere for the Drums and pipes which opens Bartok’s ‘Out of doors’ “Suite” The opening With Drums and Pipes divides the piano into two distinct registers. In the deep bass, a loud stuttering volley of sounds, both muffled and clearly-pitched, represents an echoing pair of drums while the mid-range offers up the pipes in a similar imitative interplay of overlapping short motives.The Barcarolla features the same continuous 8th-note motion, but in a constantly wandering two-voice texture that imitates the rocking motion of a Venetian gondola, over which a plaintive gondolier’s melody struggles to be heard.The creak and skirl of village bagpipes is portrayed with astonishing accuracy in Musettes, with quicksilver trill figures representing the typical ornamentation patterns of traditional pipe-playing. The most extraordinary piece in this set is The Night’s Music, with its tightly-packed tone clusters imitative of the eerie nocturnal musings of crickets, cicadas and frogs.Ariel showed an extraordinary mastery of sound as the ever constant tone clusters created the atmosphere much as the bell in Ravel’s mysterious Le Gibet from Gaspard de la unit .A luscious resonant sound on which the crickets and cicadas sounded out completely independently.A transcendental control of sound and mastery of the pedals much as I remember Radu Lupu many years ago .The suite closes with The Chase, a toccata-with a furiously churning ostinato in the left hand of transcendental difficulty that Ariel played with such ease and burning sense of excitement.It is one of the most difficult things of Bartók’s entire piano output.

The longest and in many ways the most difficult of the Beethoven Sonatas is the ‘Hammerklavier’ op 106.Ariel Lanyi is fresh from his triumph at the Leeds Piano Competition where he also played Brahms 2,the longest and most difficult of concertos.A truly monumental performance where in particular the twenty minute Adagio sostenuto was played with an intensity and architectural shape ‘Appassionata e con molto sentimento’.Of course who would ever forget Serkin’s performance years ago in London when he was in his 70’s.Ariel only 23 was every bit as convincing – Serkin was strangely even more Appassionato though but the intensity and commitment were the same.Overwhelming indeed.The first movement leap of course played with one hand – Serkin insisted on that – and anyone who wants to play safe has chosen the wrong work!The Scherzo was played with a fleeting energy and the Trio created a carpet of sound on which the melodic line was contained as it passed from treble to bass.Beethoven’s tempestuous impatience was thrown at us like a slap in the face before the tongue in cheek ending of the Scherzo preparing us for the great journey before us and the explosion of energy in the treacherous fugue.A magisterial performance for a true monument.When you realise that the performer is only 23 one is left,bewitched,bothered and bewildered not to say completely breathless!

For the record Ariel is of course an A sharp man

It might be interesting to note ,as it is for me now to remember,that my performance of the Hammerklavier sonata has gone down in history at the Royal Academy.With Myra Hess we are the only two Liszt Scholarship and Tobias Matthay fellowship holders to have failed our Division 2 exam – she probably overstretched herself too!Ariel was left prostrate but a champion nevertheless

The investiture of Dame Imogen on the 13th October
Sunshine there was none but shadows and ravishing half shades abounded with Debussy and Bartok before the tempest and atomic explosion of op 106
The distinguished audience with Ann Machin hosting Dame Imogen in her beautiful concert space in Pavilion Road
After concert reception in the beautiful Stone Hall
Angela Brownridge the distinguished pianist and student of my great friend and teacher Guido Agosti

Beethoven rules in Wesley’s Chapel Sasha Grynyuk and Jaga Klimaszewska

Sasha Grynyuk and Jaga Klimaszewska at the Wesley Chapel with Beethoven young and old in the magnificent oasis that is the John Wesley Chapel.The seat of Methodism with not only John Wesley’s grave but also those of Daniel Defoe and John Bunyan ,respectively of Robinson Crusoe and Pilgrims Progress fame.

Lord Soper

A fascinating museum where it is good to be reminded of Lord Soper who would preach in the 1960’s from his ‘Soapbox’ on Hyde Park Corner.
But today the Chapel was full of the sounds of music.

Sasha Grynyuk – Jaga Klimaszewska

The early Sonata op 23 in A minor for violin and piano is one of just two in a minor key (the seventh in C minor is the other) Its relentless first movement in 6/8 is unusual for an opening movement of a sonata, as is the tempo marking of presto.It was played with dynamic energy and dramatic contrast.The playful second movement is neither a slow movement nor a scherzo, but combines aspects of both and was played with great charm in a dialogue between piano and violin of great character.The rondo finale returns to the driving momentum of the opening movement, its urgent main theme, always initiated by the piano, returning frequently and unvaried while in between episodes of almost Schubertian melodic outpouring but with the irascible Beethoven to the fore.

Some superb duo playing between two fine musicians who are listening and responding so attentively to each other.
I would have been very interested to hear the announced sonata op 112!However it was in fact Beethoven’s last word on the sonata with n.32 in C minor op 111 (sic).

A performance that I had heard from Sasha the other day in the marathon of the 32 Sonatas played in two days by 32 pianists.
Sasha was the last to play as they were given in chronological order which made for a fascinating survey of the entire span of Beethoven’s creativity from his youth to his old age.
Just as today we could appreciate the freshness and inventiveness of the Sonata op 23 which is the twin of the better know ‘Spring’ Sonata op 24 together with the noble solidity of the Sonata for solo piano op 111.
It was played even more solidly today than before as Sasha found a never wavering tempo that was the rock on which this monument was built.

Old and new living happily side by side

An Allegro con brio ed appassionato that had such a constant pulse that it seemed faster than it actually was.Often played at breakneck speed here there was the impression of water boiling at 100 degrees but in fact there was time for all the subtle details to be incorporated into the overall architectural design.The bass octaves are usually played with great vehemence but here they were incorporated into the body of sound with a weight and aristocratic nobility.It was a pity that he tried to fit the two fiortiori into a determined space instead of giving them the freedom they had a right to.But it was a performance of extraordinary weight and nobility the same that he brought to the Arietta -adagio molto ,semplice e cantabile.

The museum in the crypt

Played with an inevitability as each variation grew out of the previous and even the treacherous third variation was played with the same unrelenting rhythmic undercurrent – not the usual helter shelter explosion but a consequence of what came before and what was to come after.Even the trills were given such weight and meaning where everything sang with such poignant meaning as Beethoven finally reaches his goal with the truly celestial sounds that he could only imagine in his private ear.
It was a remarkable performance for its mature musicianship and superb technical control not to say passion and colour that was from within not just on the surface.

Jaga- Sasha – and page Turner friend for the violin and piano sonata
John Wesley

Anna Tsybuleva Mastery at St Mary’s

Tuesday 12 October 3.00 pm

Beethoven: Piano Sonata in C Op 2 no 3
Allegro / Adagio / Scherzo / Allegro

Brahms: Piano sonata in F minor Op 5
Allegro / Andante / Scherzo / Intermezzo / Finale

A wonderful recital by a superb pianist and a delightful human being, as well ! Here is the HD link

From the lightness and driving rhythms of young Beethoven in op 2 n.3 to the monumental passion and sheer orchestral texture of the Brahms F minor sonata.This was playing of masterly musicianship with an orchestra at her fingertips but the music always anchored from the bass that allowed her such freedom without ever loosing the architectural shape of these two monumental sonatas.
There was a lightness to the opening of the Beethoven and a sense of contrasts but also ravishing charm and shape.An Adagio full of mystery and fantasy of a disarming simplicity as the bass conversed so eloquently with the treble as the untroubled waters gently accompanied .A featherlight scherzo of great precision with washes of colour over a mellifluous bass in the trio.There was lightness and sheer joy in the Allegro assai last movement.

A monumental performance of the Brahms F minor in which it was the seemingly short Intermezzo that was so memorable for the innocence mixed with menace and the ravishing washes of colour – it was an absolute jewel of transcendental control and being able to say so much with so little.
The subdued opening of the Andante had made the ravishing colours in the poco più lento even more astonishing.It was like a great improvisation as she found such ravishing beauty joining the episodes together like a voyage of discovery until she finally arrived at the breathtaking beauty of the Andante molto espressivo.The spread chords at the end were played with ravishing colour suddenly igniting into the Scherzo of scintillating energy and forward movement.
It was wonderful to watch from the opening movement how she moved like a hawk over the keys as she brought great rhythmic control to the monumental opening statement.

I was not immediately convinced of her change of tempo for the more lyrical passages but her overall architectural understanding made me aware that this was a momentary relaxation of tension that she made so convincing as a whole .The last movement too was played with lightness and ravishing contrasts .Her staccato and legato playing produced colours of ravishing beauty and the choral melody was played in a very subdued manner as it built to a tumultuous climax that was indeed breathtaking.The final più mosso far from sounding like the usual Irish gig was given a performance of orchestral texture on which the great choral melody emerged as the excitement accelerated to the explosion of the massive full sound that she found for the final great climax of this monumental work.

The Intermezzo in A major op 118 was played with half lights of searing intensity and beauty that only a great artist could know how to share such intimate feelings in public.

Anna Tsybuleva shot into the international spotlight in 2015 when she won First Prize in the Leeds International Piano Competition. She received wide critical acclaim for her winning performance, and was described as “A pianist of rare gifts: not since Murray Perahia’s triumph in 1972 has Leeds had a winner of this musical poise and calibre” (International Piano Magazine). She took her first piano lessons with her mother at the age of 6, before attending the Shostakovich Music School in Volgodonsk aged 9. From age 13, she continued her studies at the Moscow Central Music School and the Moscow State Tchaikovsky Conservatoire, when she won the Grand Prix of the International Gilels Piano Competition(2013), and top prizes from the Hamamatsu International Piano Competition (2012) and Takamatsu International Piano Competition (2014). After graduating from Moscow in 2014 with the coveted award for ‘Best Student’, she studied at the Hochschule für Musik Basel. She has since combined her international career with post-graduate studies at the Moscow State Tchaikovsky Conservatoire. Her debut recital in 2017 recording received universal praise, and she has recently recorded the Brahms concerto, and will record a Chopin recital. She has given recitals in many of the most prestigious venues throughout the world, and is fast emerging as one of the finest pianists of her generation. She is proud to be a part of the Yamaha Artist family, and grateful to Yamaha for their kindness and support