HFUK Represents The State Hermitage Museum in the United Kingdom, facilitating cultural exchange and supporting a range of Hermitage activities including exhibitions and loans, acquisitions and a curatorial exchange programme. In addition, the Foundation is responsible for the management of the Hermitage’s international endowment fund, and for a major publishing programme translating the Hermitage collection’s catalogues into English. Alongside these activities, the Foundation runs a busy Friends organisation that is closely linked to the museum in St Petersburg and which organises regular events in both the UK and Russia. Projects undertaken by The Hermitage Foundation UK include ‘Hermitage 20/21’. Initially launched in 2007, the project’s goal is to collect, exhibit and study contemporary art, as well as to build the museum’s contemporary art collection; the programme has since resulted in exhibibitions by artists including Anthony Gormley, Zaha Hadid, Henry Moore, Jake and Dinos Chapman, Anselm Kiefer and Tony Cragg.
The Foundation’s publishing programme has produced valuable English translations of many of the museum’s collections including those of Flemish paintings of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, British painting, British engraved gems and Persian painting; current volumes in development include French paintings from the fifteenth to seventeenth centuries and Iranian bronzes of the 14th to the 18th centuries. Recent projects in the UK include the exhibition of Francesco Melzi’s (1493–1570) recently restored masterpiece Flora at the National Gallery as the centrepiece of their focus exhibition Francesco Melzi and the Leonardeschi (2019); and ‘The Empress and the Gardener’, an exhibition at Hampton Court Palace in 2016 which showed 70 drawings of the Palace’s gardens by Capability Brown’s draughtsman, John Spyers, recently discovered in the Hermitage Museum having been acquired by Catherine the Great in the 18th century. The Foundation also supported ‘Houghton Revisited. The Walpole Masterpieces From Catherine the Great’s Hermitage’ in 2013.
It was such a surprise to receive two invitations to hear concerts by friends both on the same day and almost the same time.I was delighted to be able to listen to Yulia Chaplina first but had no idea that it would be in such a sumptuous setting.It must be in just a setting that the young Chopin had his overwhelming success in the salons of the aristocracy in Paris.Yulia appearing in an evening gown from a couturier collection played to a select group of guests celebrating the work of the Hermitage Foundation UK .A short speech by the chairman James Dawnay immediately made one aware of the valuable work that they are doing in forging cultural exchanges between our two great nations.
A short recital which included the fourth Ballade op 52 by Chopin – one of the pinnacles of the romantic repertoire together with the Schumann Fantasie and Liszt Sonata in B minor.It is a very difficult work to hold together as one.The theme and variations are episodic and full of such ravishing beauty that one is tempted to dwell on detail instead of seeing the whole architectural shape of which the details are but the bricks of the temple.The opening was played with such delicacy and fluidity that it created the magic on which the theme was allowed to float.Utmost delicacy and sensitivity are required but also the same simplicity that Mozart requires that can be too easy for children or two difficult for adults.Yulia found just the right amount of freedom without anticipating the transformation that will eventually bring us to the passionate climax.There was sumptuous beauty in the first variation where the subtle counterpoints were like streams of sound gradually building to the first real climax.Streams of silver lined notes take us to the second main subject that was played in a very simple chorale like way as the music was gradually transformed into a polish dance.The return of the introduction as Cortot says was ‘avec un sentiment de regret’ and the way she played the gently magical embellished cadenza created the absolute calm before the storm.The simplicity of the theme was gradually transformed into a whirlwind of passionate sounds where Yulia’s transcendental technical command allowed her to plunge passionately into Chopin’s great romantic effusions .The five gentle chords just calmed the red hot fires before the final ecstatic outburst of exuberance and emotion was allowed to spill over with overwhelming effect.The final great chords bringing this masterpiece to a triumphant ending .
This short recital ended with the delicious ‘Pas de deux ‘ from Pletnev’s magnificent transcription of Tchaikowsky’s ‘Nutcracker Suite’.A sumptuous outpouring of ravishing sounds building up to an overwhelming climax of transcendental difficulty and emotional impact that in Yulia’s hands was a true tour de force.If I had not been so entranced I would have worried about the well being of her delicate lace evening gown in such an orgy of seduction.A performance to cherish and one in which Russian culture was seen to shine brightly in the name of the Hermitage Foundation.
Yulia is a Steinway artist based in London. She initially studied in Russia with classical pianist Naum Shtarkman before moving to Berlin in 2006 to study with Klaus Hellwig at the University of Arts in Berlin. She holds a Master of Music (MMus) degree from the Royal College of Music in London, where she studied with Dmitri Alexeev. She has performed in some of the world’s most famous concert halls, including Wigmore Hall, Berlin’s Philharmonie, and the Grand Halls of the Moscow Conservatory among others.She has released a number of recordings, and writes for multiple publications in her spare time.
Described by International Piano Magazine as ‘quintessentially Russian’ and ‘with technical fluency and rich tonal shading reminiscent of the great Communist era artists such as Emil Gilels’ and held by Paul Badura-Skoda in ‘highest regard as a concert pianist’, Yulia is the winner of 7 international piano competitions. Since winning the First Prize & the Gold Medal in the prestigious Tchaikovsky International Competition for Young Musicians, she has performed regularly as a soloist in many of the world’s finest venues, including the Wigmore Hall and the Southbank Centre in London, Berlin’s Philharmonie, the Grand Halls of the Moscow Conservatoire and the St. Petersburg Philharmonia, Bunka Kaikan Hall in Tokyo and many other concert halls.Yulia’s solo CD of Russian Music, recorded by Champs Hill Records, was described by the American Record Guide as “….an outstanding disc and one I’ll return to often”, adding that “Russian born and trained Yulia Chaplina brings to her playing more than a lifetime of acquaintance with this music.”Yulia holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Arts (Berlin), Masters in Music & Fellowship from the RCM (London). Yulia received music coaching from Mstislav Rostropovitch, Andras Schiff, Mitsuko Uchida, Paul Badura-Skoda, David Waterman, Steven Isserlis, Thomas Adès and Liliya Zilberstein.
Yulia is a passionate piano teacher herself and has given many recitals, masterclasses, lectures and webinars in international music festivals and for students of the Royal College of Music, Royal Academy of Music, Guildhall School of Music and Drama, Trinity Laban Conservatoire, Tokyo College of Music, Tokyo University of Arts, Yehudi Menuhin Music School and many other students in specialist music schools and junior departments of conservatoires in Russia, UK, Japan, China, Spain, Italy and the Czech Republic.
Mikhail Pletnev (born 1957 in Archangelsk) is one of the outstanding pianists of his generation and a conductor in great demand. He received the gold medal in the 1978 International Tchaikovsky Competition and has subsequently made numerous recordings of music including Scarlatti, C. P. E. Bach, Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, Chopin, Tchaikovsky, Scriabin, Prokofiev and Shchedrin. In 1990 he founded the Russian National Orchestra, serving as its chief conductor until 1999.As an arranger for piano he has transcribed—in addition to the Nutcracker Suite recorded here—suites from The Sleeping Beauty and from Prokofiev’s ballet Cinderella. His transcription of seven movements from The Nutcracker (published 1978) represents a personal choice rather than adherence to the sequence familiar from Tchaikovsky’s orchestral suite. In Pletnev’s piano version the Overture from the orchestral suite is omitted, the remaining movements being March, Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy, Tarantella (Variation 1, which follows the Pas de deux), Intermezzo (No 8 from Scene II of the ballet, with its wonderfully spacious and dignified melody), Trepak (Russian Dance, with Pletnev’s brilliant additions), Tea (Chinese Dance) and the rapturous Pas de deux (Andante maestoso) with its overwhelming climax. Only movements 1, 2, 5 and 6 are from the orchestral suite. Pletnev’s magnificent arrangement, while vividly orchestral in effect, enhances the virtuoso pianist’s repertoire in the tradition of all the greatest transcriptions.