George Harliono at the Wigmore Hall YCAT presentation concert.Some astonishing playing with not only a technical fluidity but a kaleidoscopic repertoire of sumptuous sounds played with a musicality that is rare indeed.Episodes of ravishing beauty and subtle dynamic shading alternated with enviable technical wizardry.
But this was still a youthful vision of an artist who has a golden palette in his hands but as yet cannot see the wood for the trees.Wondrous trees though they might be.
His sense of architectural shape and real weight we had to wait until the encore to catch a glimpse of .
A Brahms intermezzo of such beauty and maturity that I have only heard similar from the hands of Radu Lupu.
This is what we had been waiting for during a remarkable display of playing with the Bach Chaconne,Prokofiev 2nd Sonata and even Liszt’s Spanish Rhapsody.
A display of transcendental control of sound at whatever speed he chose and an extraordinary sensibility but missing the overall shape and the control from the bass that gives an underlying energy and shape to larger forms.
Schubert’s Standchen in the Liszt transcription was given a memorable performance where the form and shape were governed by the melodic line that he played with infinite gradations of tone of jewel like wonder.
The concert opened with the Bach Siciliano in the famous transcription by Kempff but was hampered though by his preoccupation with the non legato accompaniment that strangely kept this marvel rather earthbound.
A second encore for an enthusiastic audience on their feet .He threw himself into Chopin’s first study with a devil may care velocity that almost caught even him out.But here too at last was the great bass melody deciding the fate of the transcendental accompaniment that he played with phenomenal technical and musical prowess.
There were sumptuous sounds from the very outset of the recital with the melodic line floating above the accompaniment in Wilhelm Kempff’s transcription of the Siciliano from the flute Sonata BWV.1031 .A whispered repeat created the magic world that George wanted to share with us throughout the recital with seemless streams of sound and ravishing half lights.His preoccupation with the difference between the non legato accompaniment and the mellifluous flute melody did not allow him the freedom that he was to find later in the recital with Standchen.In fact one had the impression that he was more preoccupied with the details than the overall picture.
This too became more evident as the recital progressed .The Bach Chaconne was immediately much more fluid and was played with great authority.However the etherial contrasts and refined sensitivity robbed this great monument of its nobility.The lightweight left hand octaves entered like a breath of fresh air as a series of episodes,sometimes of ravishing beauty and astonishing technical control,became more evident than the gradual build up to the mighty final declaration of nobility and grandeur that Bach had perceived for solo violin.George in general favoured very fast tempi and it was this lack of continuous pulse that made the great climax at the end seem so divorced from what had come before,instead of being the culmination of Bach’s glorious creation.The big bass notes too in the final page were more like canon shots than the great stops of a magnificent organ that Agosti,a pupil of Busoni,had insisted on.It was an extraordinary performance though that showed off more the qualities of a master pianist than the architectural shape and grandeur of this monumental chaconne.In fact there was much more of the remarkable George Harliono than Johann Sebastian Bach.
It was in the Prokofiev second Sonata that the continual driving rhythms and kaleidoscopic sense of colour allied to a transcendental technical control found an ideal interpreter in George.The simplicity of the opening with its sudden rhythmic outbursts and changes of mood was beautifully captured.There was real beauty in the melodic sections with magical colours that contrasted with the rhythmic interruptions.The Allegro marcato was played with great authority and rhythmic drive and the Andante with deep brooding of haunting beauty.The vivace finale was played with astonishing bravura and rhythmic drive with the theme from the first movement appearing like a distant memory of beauty and reflection.
The Spanish Rhapsody was astonishing for its musicianly sense of colour and enviable technical command.But I missed here too the almost animal rhythmic drive that had us sitting on the edge of our seats when Gilels let rip in the Festival Hall.It was such refined musicianly playing that did not fully suit the blazing passions and savage rhythmic excitement of red hot Spain.
British pianist George Harliono was invited to make his first one hour long, solo recital at the age of nine and since then has performed in numerous locations both in the UK, USA, Europe and Asia, appearing at venues such as Wigmore Hall, The Berlin Philharmonie Kammermusiksaal, The Royal Albert Hall and Chicago Symphony Centre.In 2013 he was invited to record Beethoven’s Piano Sonata Op.2 No.1 at the Southbank Centre in London. In 2016 his performance of Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No.1 at the Great Hall of The Moscow Conservatory was broadcast live on Russian national TV and streamed live on Medici TV.Since his concerto debut at the age of 12 he has been a regular performer with orchestras including the Moscow State Symphony Orchestra, The Mariinsky Orchestra, Tatarstan National Symphony Orchestra, New Millennium Orchestra of Chicago and Tyumen Philharmonic Orchestra. George also regularly performs alongside eminent artists such as Lang Lang and Denis Matsuev and has worked with many renowned conductors including Valery Gergiev, Alexander Sladkovsky, Evgeny Shestakov and Anton Lubchenko.George has been awarded prizes in numerous competitions throughout the world including The Grand Piano Competition in Moscow, Royal Overseas League Music Competition in London, Gina Bachauer Piano Competition in Utah and Dinu Lipatti Piano Competition in Bucharest.Most recently he performed with The Mariinsky Orchestra in Vladivostok, Russia under the baton of Valery Gergiev and was also invited to perform a recital as part of the Scherzo Young Series in Madrid. Scherzo is the most important piano series in Madrid and has previously featured artists such as Yuja Wang and Mitsuko Uchida.He studies with Professor Vanessa Latarche (Chair of International Keyboard Studies and Head of Keyboard, Royal College of Music in London). He has taken masterclasses with Dmitri Bashkirov, Lang Lang and Vladimir Ovchinikov among others. George also works closely with Alexander Sladkovsky who has taken a personal interest in his development as an artist.”George Harliono is very talented, he’s got a phenomenal career ahead of him.” Says the acclaimed Russian pianist Denis Matsuev.George began studying at The Royal College of Music for a BMUS Degree on a full four year scholarship in September 2017. He is one of the youngest students ever to be accepted onto this course.In 2018 he was shortlisted for an award in the ‘Sound of Classical Poll’ at the Classic BRIT Awards in London, which promotes the best emerging artists and ones-to-watch in classical music.Upcoming engagements for George include concerto performances at Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires and Zaryadye Hall in Moscow.