Roman Kosyakov Hastings prize winners’ concert with the RPO at Cadogan Hall under Kevin John Edusei

Roman Kosyakov winner of the 2018 Hastings International Piano Competition with the Royal Philharmonic at Cadogan Hall London

The Piano Concerto No. 2 in C minor,op.18, was written between the autumn of 1900 and April 1901 and the second and third movements were first performed with the composer as soloist on 2 December 1900 and the complete work was premiered, again with the composer as soloist, on 9 November 1901,with his cousin Alexander Siloti conducting.At its 1897 premiere, Rachmaninoff’s first symphony considered a significant achievement now,was derided by contemporary critics.Aggravated by problems in his personal life, Rachmaninoff fell into a depression that lasted for several years with only his second piano concerto confirming his recovery having been cured by courses of hypnotherapy and psychotherapy and helped by support from his family and friends. The concerto was dedicated to Nikolai Dahl the physician who had done much to restore Rachmaninoff’s self-confidence.

Roman Kosyakov gave a superb performance of Rachmaninov’s Concerto op 18 to a hall that had been sold out for months.A programme that included the Pastoral Symphony but also a rarely performed work by Samuel Coleridge -Taylor.A very fine German conductor Kevin John Edusei making his debut with the RPO and many other orchestras worldwide as his musical credentials are gradually being discovered.’Praised,repeatedly for the drama and tension that he brings to his music making ,for his clear sense of architecture and attention to detail’ It was exactly this that came across from the very first notes of the Ballade by Coleridge -Taylor.Rhythmic drive combined with sumptuous Philadelphian style sonorities that of course are very much the sound world of the Rachmaninov that was to follow.It was in fact with the Philadelphia orchestra under Stokowski that Rachmaninov recorded his second concerto in 1929.The “Philadelphia Sound” emerged under the leadership of Leopold Stokowski (music director from 1912 to 1938), who discarded a baton and conducted with his enormous, expressive hands. The sound continued to develop under Eugene Ormandy (music director from 1936 to 1980) with balance favouring the bottom voices (bass and cello) adding to the tonal richness and depth. Rachmaninov is said to have composed with the Philadelphia Orchestra’s sound in his mind and there are many original recordings of his works ending in 1941 with their performance of Rachmaninov’s last work the Symphonic Dances .

The concerto was played with a sense of line and natural architectural shape as the sweeping romantic sounds carried the music along on a carpet of sumptuous sounds of great power and delicacy .The opening chords had been played by Roman with such aristocratic poise and assurance and the great bass notes allowed to ring out with the sumptuous passionate outpouring on top from the strings.Delicacy too in a slow movement played with disarming simplicity of almost chamber music proportions as the players were listening so attentively to each other and the melodic line was passed from one to another .The opening of the last movement shot out of Roman’s hand like a thunderbolt as the driving rhythms and scintillating cascades of notes led to the final great outpouring of melody of almost Hollywoodian proportions.An exciting race to the final full stop brought the audience to their feet and Roman was persuaded by the orchestra and public to play an solo encore.A charming study by Sibelius of such delicacy and almost Scarlattian precision that we were reminded of the all to distant past visits and the clockwork precision of that other great Russian:Sokolov.His performance tonight has certainly made one aware that in Hastings there is another great piano competition on the horizon to join Leeds.All with ladies at their helm.Fanny Waterman,Imogen Cooper in Leeds and now Vanessa Latarche in Hastings and the indomitable Marcella Crudeli in Rome.

Roman Kosyakov embracing conductor Kevin John Edusei

Samuel Coleridge-Taylor (15 August 1875 – 1 September 1912) was an English composer and conductor achieving such success that he was referred to by white New York musicians as the “African Mahler”when he had three tours of the United States in the early 1900s.He was particularly known for his three cantatas on the epic poem Song of Hiawatha by American poet Longfellow and premiered the first section in 1898, when he was 22.He married an Englishwoman, Jessie Walmisley, and both their children had musical careers.Their son Hiawatha adapted his father’s music for a variety of performances whilst their daughter Avril became a composer-conductor.Coleridge-Taylor was brought up in Croydon where there were numerous musicians on his mother’s side and her father played the violin. He studied at the Royal College of Music from the age of 15 changing from violin to composition, working under professor Charles Villiers Stanford .After completing his degree, Taylor became a professional musician, soon being appointed a professor at the Crystal Palace School of Music and conducting the orchestra at the Croydon Conservatoire.He used the name “Samuel Coleridge-Taylor”, with a hyphen, said to be following a printer’s typographical error.

The Ballade is a fascinating piece rarely if ever heard in concert.It was commissioned for the Three Choirs Festival sometime around April 1898 at the suggestion of Edward Elgar (who was approached by them with a commission April 17 1898, and suggested Coleridge-Taylor instead – “I am sorry I am too busy to do so. I wish, wish, wish you would ask Coleridge-Taylor to do it. He still wants recognition, and he is far and away the cleverest fellow going amongst the young men.” A bold choice for a conductor making his debut in London.But played with such drive and colour it immediately became apparent the extraordinary clarity and communication that he was able to achieve from the very first notes.The Pastoral Symphony too had such clarity and architectural shape but at the same time a precision and delicacy that was so obviously greatly appreciated by an orchestra who played for him with such sumptuous sounds and a sense of balance that is the legacy of the great German school of Jochum or Klemperer.

The Hastings International Piano Concerto Competition is an internationally renowned biennial competition for young concert pianists from around the world, attracting 170 applicants in 2019 from across the globe, 40 of which came to compete in Hastings during February and March. Their prize: the opportunity to perform with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra on a two-night final and to win a first prize of £15,000 and concert engagements across the UK and overseas.The next competition dates are now confirmed to be the 24th February – 5th March 2022 with successful entrants being selected from video auditions by a panel appointed by our President of the Jury Professor Vanessa Latarche, who is Head of Keyboard at The Royal College of Music in London .Professor Latarche joined the competition team last year to curate the competition, which was rescheduled to 2022, because of the White Rock’s closure. Professor Latarche will oversee record numbers of entrants through the audition process, as well as presiding over the esteemed international jury, who she has invited to join her in Hastings next summer.

The 2018 Hastings International Piano Concerto Competition winner Roman Kosyakov was born in a musical family and made his debut with an orchestra at the age of 12 with the Mozart Concerto No 23 in A Major. In 2012, he graduated from the Central Music School in Moscow where he studied with F.I. Nurizade and then in 2017 from the Tchaikovsky Moscow Conservatory with V. Ovchinnikov. Since September 2017, he has studied at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire on a full scholarship with P. Nemirovski.He is a laureate and a winner of many national and international competitions, among them “Young Talents of Russia” (Russia, Moscow 2006), the 1st International competition “Sforzando” (1st Prize, Berlin, 2007), the International Alexander Scriabin Piano Competition (1st Prize, Paris 2011), the 8th Open Competition of Musicians Performers N. Savita (1st Prize, Russia, Ufa, 2012), the International Piano Competition “Minsk-2014” (2nd Prize, Republic of Belarus, Minsk, 2014), the 4th International Piano Competition “ Russian season in Ekaterinburg “ (1st Prize, Russia, Ekaterinburg, 2015), the 4th International Piano Competition “Vera Lotar-Shevchenko” (2nd Prize, Russia, Ekaterinburg, 2016), the 4th Prize of the 1st Saint-Priest International Piano Competition Saint-Priest (Lyon-France, 2017), the Gold award for the 3rd Manhattan International Music Competition ( 2018 ) and 1st Prize and the Audience prize for 10th Sheepdrove Piano Competition ( 2018, UK). He is regularly invited to give concerts in France, Italy, Germany, Republic of Belarus, Russia, UK, USA, and was guest soloist from 2014 to 2017 at the Kemerovsky State Symphony Orchestra.

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