It was interesting to note the style and simplicity that all the pianists showed today.It was Schnabel who famously said that Mozart is too easy for children but too difficult for adults.His teacher Theodor Leschetizky told him:’You will never be a pianist;you are a musician’. Schnabel later boasted that:’he would only play music which is better than it could be performed!’While on a tour of Spain,he wrote to his wife saying that during a performance of Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations he had begun to feel sorry for the audience. “I am the only person here who is enjoying this, and I get the money; they pay and have to suffer.”All this to say that Mozart requires the knowledge of style but also a superlative technique to be able to interpret this genial music with clarity and precision but also a subtle sense of character and colour so similar to the purity of Mozart’s world of opera.It was strange -maybe even refreshing – that there was very little added ornamentation which has become the norm these days.Scholars such as Robert Levin have indicated that ornamentation and improvisation would have been an essential part of a musicians baggage in the nineteenth century.I noticed only Amit Yahav and Pavis Hajazi added some very discreet ornamentation.We live in an age when it is difficult to hear a performance of a Mozart or even Beethoven concerto without some ornaments filling out certain passages as were the performing practice of the day and so I found it refreshing to hear Mozart’s bare outline etched with such purity and clarity by all the pianists.The ornamentation kept much to what is the bare outline in the score (I pricked up my ears only at the opening of K.310! which I must ask Amit about one day).This is not the place to make a detailed analysis of each performance all of which were to admire above all for the fact that there was no I Pad to be seen from eighteen pianists who had risen to the challenge with great professionality.Each pianist presenting their allotted sonata with such character and personality.From the impish good humour or Cristian Sandrin in the very first sonata or the simplicity and velvet sound of Sasha Grynyuk.Both Cristian and Sasha look and sound as though they belong to the piano or the piano belongs to them – there is a strange alchemy that makes for a perfect match indeed.There was the great rhythmic drive and characterisation of Edward Leung and the sublime beauty of the Adagio opening of K 282 in the hands of that born Mozartian Iyad Sughayer.The crystalline sounds that Menyang Pan found in K .283 where her slow tempo for the Andante managed to seduce and convince as her superb musicianship always does.Domonkos Czabay showed us the serious Hungarian style of a musician I have admired for some time.Ke Ma was given bouquets of flowers from her charming little students for her superb performance of K 309 played with great intensity and commitment.After a welcome tea break Amit Yahav played the great A minor sonata with all the depth and weight of a serious thinking musician who had delved deep into this Sonata understanding only too well what the death of Mozart’s mother could mean to a sensitive artist.Patrick Hemmerlé amazed as always by his understanding, involvement and the just weight he gave to every scintillating note.Patrick could play at the drop of a hat the entire piano repertoire and has amazed us at St Mary’s for many a year.Hao Zi Yoh standing in at two days notice for a Covid victim amazed for the freshness and subtle sounds she produced especially in the sublime Andante cantabile .Above all the opening trills that unwound with enviable precision and musical meaning took my breath away.She above all exemplifies Mozart:simple,beautiful and fresh.
Listening to the evening session on line I immediately heard Ashley Fripp’s K 331 playing with great weight and nobility.The famous Allegretto Alla Turca played with irresistible control and passion.It was the first time I had heard Parvis Hejazi and everything his teacher Norma Fisher had told me was brought vividly to life with such beautifully fluid playing of great intelligence.Yuchong Wu ,another name new to me and standing in for another casualty of Covid,gave a very assured sensitive account of K 333 as you might expect from a graduate of Juilliard and I look forward to hearing him again in recital at St Mary’s.Julian Trevelyan gave a very personal account of the great C minor where his searching for colour with an unusual sense of balance brought new life to a well worn masterpiece.Julian Jacobson a senior member of this elite group of pianists showed us his complete understanding of Mozart’s style with playing of such simplicity and elegance from the only pianist I know who at the drop of a hat could play all thirty two Beethoven sonatas at one sitting as well as most of the piano repertoire.(Quality and quantity go together in Julian’s knowledgeable hands).Dinara Klinton’s unique technical command of the keyboard was put to the test with Mozart’s Sonata Facile where she imbued this little work with such subtle colour and meaning expressing with simplicity and beauty what we have all been sharing with her in the past weeks.Roman Korsyakov earlier in the week had played with Sasha Grynyuk the Andante and variations K.501 showing how a Russian and Ukrainian could live and create beauty together. https://christopheraxworthymusiccommentary.wordpress.com/2022/03/12/war-or-peace-the-help-ukraine-concert/. The penultimate Sonata he played with all the delicacy and scintillating sparkle of the true artist he is on and off stage.The last Sonata in D was played with great rhythmic energy and subtlety by a pianist new to me but to watch out for Susanna Braun.
2.0 pm Cristian Sandrin : Sonata in C major K279
Allegro – Andante – Allegro
Mozart wrote this first real sonata when he was 19 years old during his concert tour to Italy, while he was working on the composition of the opera ‘La Finta Giardiniera’. The style of the sonata draws elements from different musical sources. The first movement is strongly rooted in the classical style with baroque elements, the slow movement has a singing Italianate character, and Haydn is peeping around the corner in the witty finale. All three moments are in sonata form. The piano writing is very ‘pianistic’ and demands great dexterity and even virtuosity from the player. In the recapitulation of the first movement Mozart does not simply repeat the exposition but is constantly inventing surprising turns of melody and harmony in an almost improvisatory way. The second movement is unique with its aria-like melody and free flow of ideas, evoking a sweet ‘dolce’ mood. The finale brims with vitality and good humour, spiced with almost burlesque elements.
Born to a family of musicians from Bucharest, Romania, Cristian Sandrin made his solo debut at prestigious Romanian Atheneum Hall at the age of 13. After graduating the “Dinu Lipatti” Art College in Bucharest, Cristian moved to London where he studied at the Royal Academy of Music. Having graduated with First Class Honours in 2016, he is currently pursuing a postgraduate degree at the same institution. He is currently a receiver of the Piano Fellowship of the Philharmonia Orchestra’s Martin Musical Scholarship Fund 2017/2018, benefiting also from a scholarship of the Imogen Cooper Music Trust. Cristian Sandrin won numerous prizes and awards at international and national competitions. A Second Prize Winner of the Windsor International Piano Competition (2018) and Third Prize Winner of the Sheepdrove Intercollegiate Piano Competition (2018). He had his solo debut recital at the Wigmore Hall in London in September 2017. In Romania, Cristian Sandrin is a regular guest artist of the Filarmonica “Mihail Jora” Bacau, the Sibiu Sibiu Philharmonic, Ramnicu-Valcea National Philharmonic and Bucharest Symphony Orchestra. Other international engagements include performances at “La Fenice” Theatre in Venice, Theatre de la Montjoie, Salla Manuel de Falla in Madrid, Palazzo Ricci in Montepulciano, the Romanian Atheneum in Bucharest, and “Bulgaria Philharmonic Hall” in Sophia. https://christopheraxworthymusiccommentary.wordpress.com/2022/02/25/cristian-sandrin-a-message-of-hope-and-peace-in-florence-the-cradle-of-our-culture/. https://christopheraxworthymusiccommentary.wordpress.com/2021/06/06/sandrin-plays-mozart-simplicity-and-purity-in-bucharest/
2.20 pm Sasha Grynyuk : Sonata in F major K280
Allegro – Adagio – Presto
This sonata is modelled on a sonata of Haydn in the same key, which had appeared some time earlier. Both slow movements of the sonatas are in F minor and are marked ‘Adagio’, and both are in the Siciliano rhythm. The principal theme, consisting of several contrasting motives, is followed by a subject in triplets containing some interesting chromatic episodes. The movement abounds in playful scales and runs, giving the player ample opportunity to exhibit his virtuosity. The slow movement is a miracle of concentration and expression of feeling. The profundity, the expression of pain and anguish foreshadows the later Mozart in his great dramatic minor key works. The Finale clears all dark clouds and is a feast of surprises, jokes and joy.
Winner of over ten international competitions, prizes and awards, Sasha was chosen as a ‘Rising Star’ for BBC Music Magazine and International Piano Magazine . His successes also include First Prizes in the Grieg International Piano Competition and the BNDES International Piano Competition, in addition to winning the Guildhall School of Music’s most prestigious award – the Gold Medal – previously won by such artists as Jacqueline Du Pré and Bryn Terfel.Sasha has performed in many major venues including Wigmore Hall, Barbican Hall, Royal Festival Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Bridgewater Hall (Manchester), Wiener Konzerthaus, Weil Recital Hall (Carnegie Hall, New York), Teatro Real (Rio de Janeiro) and Salle Cortot (Paris). He has performed with such orchestras as the Royal Philharmonic, Bergen Philharmonic and Orchestra Sinfonica Brasiliera. His recording of music by Glenn Gould and Friedrich Gulda for Piano Classics was chosen as the record of the month for the German magazine Piano News and shortlisted for the New York Classical Radio Award. Among Sa sha’s ongoing projects are performances of Shostakovich’s original piano score for the 1929 silent film The New Babylon , which he premièred at LSO St. Luke’s and later performed at Leif Ove Andsnes’ Rosendal Festival, Norway. Born in Ukraine, Sasha studied at the Guildhall School in London. Sasha is a Keyboard Trust artist and currently benefits from the artistic guidance of its founder Noretta Conci-Leech. https://christopheraxworthymusiccommentary.wordpress.com/2021/04/05/sasha-grynyuk-at-st-marys-for-the-glorification-of-love-and-passion/
2.40 pm Edward Leung : Sonata in B flat K281
Allegro – Andante – Rondo
In the first movement Mozart fully explores the tonal resources of the instrument, letting it sound in rich chords and vibrating accompaniments. The movement abounds in free improvisatory development and rich variation of the lyrical main theme. The slow movement is a perfect example of the ‘gallant style’. The amoroso character of the music demands a graceful execution, never yielding to explicit sentimentality. The third movement is call Rondo and is based on a them in gavotte style. The music, although refined after the French style, also contains unexpected dramatic passages in minor keys.
Lauded as one of ’16 Incredibly Impressive Students at Princeton University’ by Business Insider , American pianist Edward Leung has performed in concert halls across North America, Europe, and Asia. Highlights of the current season include concerto performances with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Orchestra of the Swan; debuts at the Wigmore Hall and Laieszhalle in Hamburg; recitals in London, Winchester, Wiltshire, Ulverston, and Wye Valley, and a debut commercial recording with violinist Usha Kapoor for Resonus Classics. A 2019 – 2020 Live Music Now artist, he has swept all the major prizes at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, including the Piano Prize, Donohoe Gold Medal, Andrew Downes Performance Prize, Delia Hall Accompaniment Prize, Herbert Lumby Prize, and Sheila and Colina Hodge Memorial Prize. After receiving a Master of Music from the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, he continues his studies in the Advanced Postgraduate Diploma programme with Pascal Nemirovski. He is gratefully supported by the Keyboard Charitable Trust. https://christopheraxworthymusiccommentary.wordpress.com/2021/05/18/edward-leung-beauty-and-introspection-at-st-marys/
2.55 pm Iyad Sughayer Sonata in E flat K282
Adagio – Minuet – Allegro
This sonata unexpectedly begins with a slow movement followed by a minuet, and ends with an allegro movement. The extraordinary Adagio is full of lyricism and quietly flowing cantilenas. The second movement consists of two minuets, both in simple folk-like language. The last movement is reminiscent of Haydn and concludes the sonata in a gay and carefree mood.
Chosen as ‘One to Watch’ by International Piano Magazine, Iyad’s debut album – Khachaturian Piano Works for BIS Records was released in November 2019 to critical acclaim. The album was described by Gramophone as ‘exhilarating and delivered with perfect clarity’ and ‘an outstanding debut’ by BBC Music Magazine. In 2021 Iyad was a prize-winner at the Young Classical Artists Trust (YCAT) International Auditions. This autumn he records his second CD for BIS with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales conducted by Andrew Litton including Khachaturian’s Piano Concerto and Masquerade. As soloist Iyad has appeared with leading orchestras including the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, Manchester Camerata, European Union Chamber Orchestra, the Cairo and Amman Symphony Orchestras. He has given recitals at Wigmore Hall, Bridgewater Hall & Stoller Hall in Manchester (broadcast by BBC Radio 3), the Laeiszhalle (Hamburg), Festival Musique D’Abord (France), Steinway Hall (New York), Castleton Festival (Virginia) and Kings Place in London, among many others. Recent highlights include an invitation to contribute to the BBC Arabic documentary ‘London Lockdown’, in which he took part as a character and recorded the soundtrack for the music. Born in Amman, the Jordanian-Palestinian pianist, Iyad studied at Chetham’s School of Music, the Royal Northern College of Music and Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance where he won the College’s prestigious Gold Medal. He completed his International Artist Diploma at the RNCM in 2019 with Murray McLachlan, Martino Tirimo and Graham Scott and in 2019 became a City Music Foundation Artist. https://christopheraxworthymusiccommentary.wordpress.com/2021/03/19/iyad-sughayer-coming-of-age-at-cranleigh-arts-centre/
3.25 pm Mengyang Pan Sonata in G major K283
Allegro – Andante – Presto
This sonata in G (the only one in this key) is full of light, gaiety and song-like phrases, and reminds one of the sonatas of Johann Christian Bach, who was an important model for the young Mozart. The ‘Italian’ character of the music is clearly shown already in the first movement, where even in the development section, usually of dramatic character, there is not a trace of struggle, all minor key feelings being avoided. The slow movement brings an innocent feeling of happiness, which is clouded over in the middle section where the theme appears in A minor. The recapitulation brings relief and flows on in radiant cantilenas. The last movement is a sparkling presto, bearing a close resemblance to the finale of the piano sonata no 2, also in 3/8 measure and breathing the spirit of the Opera Buffa.
Mengyang Pan was born in China and has been living in the UK since 2000. She began her piano study at the age of three before becoming a junior student at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing. At the age of 14, she left China to study at the Purcell School in the UK with professor Tessa Nicholson. Upon graduating with high honours, she went on to complete her musical education at the Royal College of Music training under professor Gordon Fergus-Thompson and Professor Vanessa Latarche.The prize winner of many competitions including Rina Sala Gallo International Piano competition, Bromsgrove International Young Musician’s Platform, Dudley International Piano Competition, Norah Sands Award, MBF Educational Award, Mengyang has performed in many prestigious venues such as the Royal Festival Hall, Wigmore Hall, Cadogan Hall, Bridgewater Hall and Birmingham Symphony Hall amongst many others. As soloist, Mengyang has appeared with many orchestras and her collaboration with conductors such as Maestro Vladimir Ashkenazy, John Wilson and Mikk Murdvee has gained the highest acclaim. Mengyang also finds much joy in teaching. In 2019, Mengyang was appointed piano professor at the Royal College of Music in London, she also teaches at Imperial College. https://christopheraxworthymusiccommentary.wordpress.com/2020/12/19/mengyang-pan-at-cranleigh-arts-centrebeethoven-birthday-concert/
3.40 pm Domonkos Csabay Sonata in D major K284
Allegro – Andante – Theme and variations
Mozart wrote this sonata in 1775 when it was commissioned by Baron Thaddaus von Durnitz. The style of the first movement is bold, daring and spectacular, brilliantly written for the piano, using pianistic effects like hand crossing and tremolo. It contains influences from the Mannheim style, whereas the rich singing lines have an Italian character. The second movement is a Rondo en Polonaise, a wonderfully ‘orchestrated’ dance-like piece, where Mozart gives his imagination and fancy full reign. The third movement is a set of variations on a theme with a gavotte character. The beautiful set of variations not merely offers an embellished version of the original them, but is constantly changing the character of the theme, from peacefully dreaming to joyfully galloping. Mozart skilfully explores all the pianistic resources of the time using passages in parallel thirds, octaves, hand-crossing and trills.
Domonkos Csabay is a Hungarian pianist who was born in Budapest and studied at the Liszt Academy. He has been based in the UK since 2015. He has given solo performances in many countries, while also performing widely as a chamber musician and accompanist. He has played at many important concert venues such as Town Hall and Symphony Hall in Birmingham or Queen Elizabeth Hall and Milton Court in London, and collaborated with renowned artists and companies such as the CBSO, Orchestra of the Swan or Longborough Festival Opera. He won the Birmingham International Piano Competition in 2016. After finishing his piano studies with Pascal Nemirovski and John Thwaites at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, he obtainedr an Advanced Postgraduate Diploma in répétiteurship, and was selected to become an accompanist at Samling Institute for Young Artists. He made his debut on BBC Radio 3 playing Beethoven. His debut CD is recorded and to be issued by the label Naxos in 2021. Domonkos is currently based in London, where he holds a position as accompanist fellow at the Royal College of Music. https://christopheraxworthymusiccommentary.wordpress.com/2021/02/02/domonkos-csabay-at-st-marys-a-refined-recital-from-a-true-musician/
4.10 pm Ke Ma Sonata in C major K309
Allegro – Andante – Rondo
Mozart composed this sonata for Rosa Cannabich, daughter of the well-known composer of that time, who was an admirable player. The first movement opens with a powerful unison theme, followed by a graceful melody, bringing immediate contrast in the first subject. The second theme appears further on, and provides a charming and delightful ease. The slow movement gives a musical picture of Rosa Cannabich, of whom Mozart had a high opinion – he describes her as highly intelligent, kind and amiable. The music is a series of variations on a theme of great intimacy, evoking a sense of simplicity and lightness. Noteworthy are the many detailed performance marks, which should be strictly observed, according to Mozart. In the final Rondo, Mozart introduces orchestral effects reminiscent of the Mannheim school. The writing is of virtuoso and brilliant standard. The piece ends surprisingly with a pianissimo coda.
Born in 1994 in China, Ke studied at the Royal Academy of Music in London, graduating with a Masters with distinction (DipRAM) in 2017. She is currently pursuing her Doctoral study at Guildhall School of Music and Drama. She has won top prizes at international competitions including 1st Prize at the 2016 Concours International de la vie de Maisons-Laffitte and Karoly Mocsari Special Prize (France), 1st Prize at the 2014 Shenzhen Competition (China) and 3rd Prize at the 2012 Ettlingen Competition (Germany. In 2017 Ke made her debut at Wigmore Hall under the auspices of the Kirckman Concert Society. She has given concerts across the UK, in France, Germany, Poland, the US and Canada. Recent engagements include recitals at the Purcell Room, Kings Place, the Saintonge Festival, Maison Laffitte and Salle Molière Lyon in France and the Chopin Festival at the Fisher Center in Bard College, New York.A committed chamber musician, Ke has undertaken a Tunnell Trust Award tour of Scotland, given a recital at Wigmore Hall and recorded music by Vieuxtemps for Champs Hill Records with violist Timothy Ridout. Ke is grateful for support from the Ian Fleming Award from Help Musicians UK; prizes from the Worshipful Company of Musicians, the Maisie Lewis Young Artist Fund and the Prince’s Award. She recently performed the Tchaikovsky Piano Concerto No.1 under the baton of Adrian Leaper at the Barbican Hall, as one of the finalists at the Gold Medal competition at Guildhall School of Music and Drama. https://christopheraxworthymusiccommentary.wordpress.com/2022/02/15/ke-ma-at-st-marys-a-seduction-of-luminosity-and-musicianship/
4.50 pm Amit Yahav Sonata in A minor K310
Allegro – Andante – Presto
The background to this tragic minor key sonata is the unexpected death of Mozart’s mother, while he was giving concerts in Paris in 1778. The work is of an unusual dramatic character, and is the expression of deep personal feelings. The first movement’s principal theme, marked Maestoso, begins with a dissonant appoggiatura. The dotted rhythm of the theme dominates the whole movement with an almost obsessive pressure. The second theme is in C major, but the underlying tension also casts a shadow on this episode, especially when it resolves into minor in the recapitulation. In the development section the dotted rhythm rages furiously in both fortissimo and pianissimo, and creates an almost unbearable tension. The second movement is an Andante, marked ‘Cantabile con espressione’. The many execution marks relating to phrasing, articulation and dynamics give a good insight in Mozart’s performance practice. The aria-like first section is interrupted by a dramatic middle section in the minor key, where the bass is making bold gestures under a frantically leaping accompaniment in the right hand. The third movement brings no consolation or smiling faces. It is a restless Presto, in which the music breathlessly chases a phantom. The middle section in the character of a musette, gives a glimpse of a better world, but immediately the first them takes its course again, and comes to a violent end in the minor key.
Multi-award-winning pianist Amit Yahav is much in demand as a recitalist, chamber musician and concerto soloist, having earned his reputation for interpretations that grip and move audiences with passion and intellectual insight. His interpretations of the music of Chopin and Schumann in particular have received high praise. In 2018, he earned a Doctor of Music degree from the Royal College of Music for his thesis investigating interpretation in the music of Chopin. Amongst Amit’s success are the Anthony Lindsay Piano Prize and the György Solti Award for Professional Development. Amit also won the 1st International Israeli Music Competition in London and consequently performed Israeli composer Zvi Avni’s On the Verge of Time in London’s Southbank Centre in the presence of the composer. In 2014, Amit attracted much positive attention with his CD “Amit Yahav Plays Chopin“, containing the four Ballades. This release followed Amit’s tour showcasing the four Ballades in an explained recital, which was also selected by the Royal College of Music as part of their Insight Series of soirees offered to their donors. Most recently, his newest disc featuring Romantic piano fantasies by Mendelssohn, Schumann and Chopin appeared on the GENUIN label. https://christopheraxworthymusiccommentary.wordpress.com/2020/06/10/amit-yahav-live-at-st-marys/
5.15 pm Patrick Hemmerle Sonata in D major K311
Allegro – Andantino – Rondo
From 1777 to 1778 Mozart made a Mannheim-Paris journey, which played an important role in his career. During the journey three piano sonatas were composed, one of which is this sonata in D major. He wrote the sonata for Josepha, the pretty daughter of Court Councillor Freysinger, a former school friend of Mozart’s father Leopold. The music is filled with a light and playful spirit, and still shows influences for the Mannheim School. One example of this is found in the closing rondo, where a cadenza is inserted before the main them appears again – a technique only used in a piano concerto. This proves that Mozart wanted to enlarge the structure of the ‘simple’ piano sonata, introducing concerto-like elements. The first movement is an allegro con spirito. The gentle second subject is enriched by beautiful counterpoint in the left hand. The development makes clever use of the Mannheim ‘sigh’ motive, a descending second, which was introduced as a little coda to the exposition. The song-like second movement contains some moving melodic episodes, and ends with a richly accompanied code, evoking a feeling of sweet nostalgia. The Rondo is a real concert piece with flourishing cascades of scales, its 6/8 time playfully dancing towards an effective end.
Acclaimed for the originality of his concert programmes and the depth of his interpretations, Patrick Hemmerlé is a French pianist living in England. He can often be heard performing such works as the 24 Chopin Etudes, the 48 Bach Prelude and Fugues, or lesser-known composers. Recent engagements have taken him to New York, Los Angeles, Berlin, Paris, Vienna, and Prague, as well as many festivals and music society in England. Patrick has published 3 CDs, which have been well received by the international press. His latest recording project, to be issued in 2020 is a pairing of Bach’s Well Tempered Clavier and Fischer’s Ariadne Musica. He is in demand as a lecturer. He has given talks for the Cambridge University, as well as a cycle of concert-lectures on French music, presenting composers little known to the general public,. This led to the recordings of the piano music of Jean Roger-Ducasse and Maurice Emmanuel. Patrick is laureate of the international competition of Valencia, Toledo, Epinal, Grossetto, and more recently the CFRPM, in Paris, where his interpretation of Villa-Lobos’s Rudepoema, raised a great deal of interest. He was trained in Paris at the Conservatoire (CNR), under the tuition of Billy Eidi. https://christopheraxworthymusiccommentary.wordpress.com/2022/01/17/patrick-hemmerle-ravishes-and-seduces-the-senses-at-st-marys/
5.35 pm Hao Zi Yoh Sonata in C major K330
Allegro – Andante – Allegretto
The enchanting simplicity of the opening them is the starting point of a wonderful movement in which simple scales and broken chords turn into pure music of sublime beauty. In the development Mozart applies rich and manifold thematic material expressing emotion and unrest by using frequent syncopation and ‘sigh’ motives. Mozart’s marking ‘dolce’ is significant in the execution of the slow movement, which is in ternary form. The gentle flowing atmosphere of the beginning is clouded over by the darker mood of the middle section in the minor key. The reappearance of the first melody comes then as a ray of sunlight. The joyful rondo is in rondo-sonata form. The music brims over the witty themes and brilliant virtuosity, reminding one of a gay scene from one of his operas.
Hao Zi Yoh was born in 1995 in Malaysia. By the age of 12, she already performed at Carnegie Hall as a gold medallist of the Bradshaw and Buono International Piano Competition. In Malaysia, Hao Zi studied under Chong Lim Ng, who showed her the path into the classical music world. At the age of 14, she moved to Germany to study at the Hochschule für Musik Freiburg. She won top prizes in many international competitions including EPTA Belgium, Enschede, RNCM James Mottram (Manchester, 2012) and Concurso internacional de piano Rotary Club Palma Ramon LLull, Mallorca (Spain 2013). In 2014, she came to study with Christopher Elton at the Royal Academy of Music, London. She received 3rdPrize at Roma International Piano Competition, the Phillip Crawshaw Memorial Prize for an Outstanding Musician from Overseas at the Royal Overseas League Competition. She was also recipient of prestigious Martin Musical Scholarship Trust Philharmonia Piano Fellowships on the Emerging Artists Programme 2017/18. A Young Steinway Artist, Hao Zi is currently based in London and has performed in venues such as Wigmore Hall, Southbank Royal Festival Hall, Salle Cortot, Steinway Hall London, St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Dewan Filharmonik Petronas (Malaysia) and Teatro Quirino (Italy). She is further developing her performing career being part of the Keyboard Trust London, Talent Unlimited. Hao Zi is also a piano tutor at King’s College London and gives masterclasses at Imperial College London. https://christopheraxworthymusiccommentary.wordpress.com/2021/03/09/hao-zi-yoh-at-st-marys-a-universal-soul-at-the-service-of-music/
7.00 pm Ashley Fripp : Sonata in A K331
Theme and variations / Minuet / Allegretto
This piano sonata is one of the most frequently performed sonatas of Mozart. It is probable that it was created around 1783 when Mozart was working on his opera ‘The Seraglio’. Supporting this reason is the appearance of Turkish elements in both the opera and the sonata. Mozart did not miss the popularity of exotic Turkish music in Vienna those days, and introduced such elements not only in his opera but also in his piano music, hoping for better sales of his music. The Turkish march is not the only unique feature of the sonata. Unusual is also the first movement, being a set of variations, and the Minuet in place of the slow movement. In fact none of the movements is in sonata form. The sonata does not require bravura technique to play, and it seems that Mozart composed this work bearing Viennese amateur pianists in mind. The first movement, Andante grazioso, is a set of variations on a beautiful theme in A Major. The gently rocking melody develops into six variations of different character – playful, dark, peaceful and bristling. The second movement is a minuet. The writing and structure of the piece is a far cry from the simple minuets used in other works. There is complex counterpoint and audacious harmony employed which, combined with the irregularity of phrase construction, makes this one of the most original minuets Mozart wrote. The third movement is the well-known Marcia alla Turca, in A-B-C-B-A-B- Coda form. The B=part shows the Turkish effects : festive drums and cymbals sound on the piano evoking a joyful march parade.
British pianist Ashley Fripp has performed extensively as recitalist, chamber musician and concerto soloist throughout Europe, Asia, North America, Africa and Australia in many of the world’s most prestigious concert halls. Highlights include the Carnegie Hall (New York), Musikverein (Vienna), Concertgebouw (Amsterdam), the Philharmonie halls of Cologne, Paris, Luxembourg and Warsaw, the Bozar (Brussels), the Royal Festival, Barbican and Wigmore Halls (London). He has won prizes at more than a dozen national and international competitions, including at the Hamamatsu (Japan), Birmingham and Leeds International Piano Competitions, the Royal Over-Seas League Competition, the Concours Européen de Piano (France) and the coveted Gold Medal from the Guildhall School of Music & Drama. In 2013, Ashley won the Worshipful Company of Musicians’ highest award, The Prince’s Prize, and was chosen as a ‘Rising Star’ by the European Concert Hall Organisation (ECHO). He has also performed in the Chipping Campden, Edinburgh, Brighton, Bath, City of London and St. Magnus International Festivals as well as the Oxford International Piano Festival and the Festival Pontino di Musica (Italy). A frequent guest on broadcasting networks, Ashley has appeared on BBC television and radio, Euroclassical, Eurovision TV and the national radio stations of Hungary, Spain, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Belgium and Portugal. Ashley Fripp studied at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama with Ronan O’Hora and at the Scuola di Musica di Fiesole (Italy) with Eliso Virsaladze. In 2022 he was awarded a doctorate for his research into the music of Thomas Adès. https://christopheraxworthymusiccommentary.wordpress.com/2021/12/11/ashley-fripp-at-st-marys-penetrating-the-soul-of-mozart-and-schubert/
7.25 pm Parvis Hejazi : Sonata in F K332
Allegro / Adagio / Allegro
In 1781 Mozart, at the age of 25, moved from Salzburg to Vienna and started his mature creative activities. This is one of his sonatas which are presumed to have been composed between 1781 and 1783, his first years in Vienna. The pleasant first subject, a graceful melody in ¾ time, is followed by sudden ‘Mannheim rockets’, upwardly surging figurations. The innocent second subject in C major seems to try to calm down the disturbance. The development does no offer dramatic struggles, but gently introduces the second subject again, and after a building up a tension, the soothing first melody renders everything peaceful. The beautiful slow movement with its tender aria-like melody , lacks a more dramatic middle section, so as not to disturb the atmosphere of peaceful quietness and unclouded beauty of sound. The finale presents a whirlwind of sixteenth notes in 6/8 time. It presents a fine display of virtuosity, and its exhilarating momentum never fails to make a deep impression on the audience.
Being a pianist and composer, Parvis Hejazi is known as a “rising star on the piano sky” (ARD television), interested in a variety of performance activities from solo recital and concerto programmes to chamber music performances and from composing to conducting his own works. He holds the Gerd Bucerius award of the Deutsche Stiftung Musikleben for being “a highly promising young artist”. Parvis recently won the Grand Prix of the 3rd International PianoArt Competition in Kiev. He furthermore was awarded the first prize and special prize of the International Piano Competition Gagny in 2017 and was also awarded first prizes in various national and international competitions in Germany. His performance activities led Parvis to prestigious venues, including the Laeiszhalle Hamburg, Die Glocke Bremen, the Robert Bosch Foundation in Berlin, the SWR Sendesaal Stuttgart, the Wiener Saal and Solitaire at the Mozarteum Salzburg and to France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy, the Czech Republic and Israel. Born in 1999, Parvis studied piano and composition at the Junior Department of the University of the Arts Bremen. He received crucial influence from working with world leading pianists such as Norma Fisher, Jerome Lowenthal, Vanessa Latarche, Anatol Ugorski, Igor Levit and Lars Vogt. He is currently studying with Norma Fisher at the Royal College of Music in London with a Music Talks Scholarship, as well as grants from the prestigious Evangelisches Studienwerk (Villigst), the Hollweg Foundation and the Deutsche Stiftung Musikleben. Parvis is a Member of the Keyboard Charitable Trust as well as of Talent Unlimited UK.
7.45 pm Yuchong Wu: Sonata in B flat K333
Allegro / Andante / Allegretto
Mozart wrote this sonata in the summer of 1778, during his stay in Paris. Its close resemblance to the sonatas of Johann Christian Bach is further explained by the fact that he was also staying in Paris at that time. Both composers had frequent contact and had great respect for each other. In the first movement the music flows smoothly with an amiable smile and an Italian grace. Yet the part writing and the darker shadows sometimes cast on the sunny landscape unmistakably bear stamp of Mozart’s genius. The slow movement reveals intimate and deep feelings, as often heard in Mozart’s works in E flat major. In the development the fragmented first subject is loaded with a brooding, even menacing tension, which keeps hanging as a cloud over the movement until the very end. The third movement, Allegretto, is rondo which has evident concerto-like episodes, notable the alternations of ‘solo’ and ‘tutti’, and the full-scale cadenza at the end, concluding this delightful sonata.
Yuchong Wu was born into a musical family in China in 1995. He began playing the piano at the age of four and made his debut recital at the age of nine. In 2010 he entered The Juilliard School with a full scholarship, and continued his study toward a bachelor’s degree. During his time at Juilliard, he has been guided by Veda Kaplinsky, Matti Raekallio and Robert McDonald. Yuchong has also worked privately with Paul Badura Skoda, Leon Fleisher, Menahem Pressler, Robert Levin, and Murray Perahia. More recently he has been studying at the Royal Academy of Music. He is a laureate of numerous international competitions such as the Sixth Tchaikovsky International Youth Music Competition (2009, second prize), the Sendai International Piano Competition (2013, the special jury award and the audience prize), the Warsaw Chopin International Piano Competition (2015), the Leeds International Piano Competition (2018) and many others.
8.20 pm Julian Trevelyan : Sonata in C minor K457
Allegro / Adagio / Allegro
This sonata was written in 1784, the only sonata in the minor key, together with the A minor K310. The work is one of Mozart’s darkest and gloomiest creations, full of anguish, drama and grief. The piano writing is of high calibre, calling for virtuoso powers, and already foreshadows the piano works of Beethoven. A bold subject in parallel octaves in the minor key sets the tone and atmosphere. No smiling and flowing Italianate melodies here, but tight, grim structures, moving on in inexorable pace. The second subject is in E flat major, which is transformed into C minor in the recapitulation, the minor version having a totally new strength and tension. The development rages towards a climax, and the recapitulation brings no relief, the coda ending into a dark abyss of C minor. The slow movement is a richly embellished cantilena, wandering off in distant keys. It gives the player the opportunity to give his own imagination free reign, a practice which is customary in the piano concertos. The last movement presents a syncopated first subject of restless and breathless character, followed by a violent outcry of repeated octaves and leaps, which mercilessly recurs several times. The tight and concise character of the music makes it all the more dramatic and effective. The code introduces still a new element which brings this extraordinary sonata to a violent close.
Julian Trevelyan is a British musician. In 2021 he won the Second, Audience and Mozart prizes at the Concours Géza Anda. In 2015 at the age of 16, he was the top prize winner, and youngest ever laureate at the Concours Marguerite Long. He has also won laureates at the CFRPM, Ile de France, Dudley, Dumortier and Kissinger competitions. He has studied at the École Normale Alfred Cortot with Rena Shereshevskaya, sponsored by Patrick Masure. From 2021 he is Rena’s assistant, and replaces her in lessons. He also studied composition there, and is composer in residence with Ensemble Dynamique. He is an Alumnus of the Lieven International Piano Foundation. He has also studied with Christopher Elton, Elizabeth Altman and Rita Wagner. He studied musicology at Oxford University, and has a degree in Geology. He leads a string quartet, plays historical instruments and is part of a mandarin a capella choir. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, cooking and sports. He currently lives in Paris and speaks four languages. https://christopheraxworthymusiccommentary.wordpress.com/2021/11/29/julian-trevelyan-at-st-marys-liszt-restored-to-the-pinnacle-of-the-romantic-repertoire/
8.40 pm Julian Jacobson : Sonata in F K533/494
Allegro /Andante / Rondo
The movements of this sonata were composed separately, and were later combined into what is now regarded as one sonata. The writing of the first movement is daring, using many contrapuntal devices and extensive harmonic digressions into far away minor keys. It recalls the works of Bach and Handel, whose compositions Mozart had studied closely. The coda shows some extraordinary chromatic shifts, before closing with flourishing triplet runs. The slow movement is in sonata form. It presents some of the most original music of Mozart, showing in the asymmetrical phrase structures and the strange harmonic development, which must have sound oddly dissonant to contemporary ears. The third movement, marked Allegretto, eases the tension of the two preceding movements, and is a pleasant Rondo, in which the theme is differently ornamented each time it reappears. The minor episode again shows clever counterpoint. A skilful, cadenza-like piling up of the theme is followed by the recurrence of the theme in the bass, and the movement ends peacefully.
Julian Jacobson enjoys a distinguished career as pianist, composer, writer, teacher and conductor. Trained classically at the Royal College of Music London (where he now teaches, as well as at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire) and Oxford University, he was also the inaugural pianist of the National Youth Jazz Orchestra of Great Britain. Julian has performed in more than forty countries on five continents. Frequently apppearing in China, he is Guest Professor at Xiamen University, and gives masterclasses internationally. A large and varied discography includes rarities such as the four sonatas of Carl Maria von Weber and the Violin Sonatas of Georges Enesco. He is Chairman of the Beethoven Piano Society of Europe and is in the process of recording the 32 sonatas. In 2003 he made history by performing all the sonatas from memory in a single day, repeating this in 2004 and 2013; he his planning one final “marathon” for 2022. He has composed several film and TV scores including To The Lighthouse and We Think The World Of You, as well as instrumental pieces and songs. His virtuoso transcriptions for piano duet of Gershwin’s An American in Paris and Second Rhapsody, published by Schott/Bardic Edition, have received rave reviews; Julian recorded them in August 2020 for the SOMM label with his duo partner Mariko Brown. https://christopheraxworthymusiccommentary.wordpress.com/2021/12/03/julian-jacobson-boogie-woogie-and-beamish-at-city-university-of-london/
9.15 pm Dinara Klinton : Sonata in C K545
Allegro / Andante / Rondo
This sonata, composed in 1788, bears the subtitle ‘Little Sonata for beginners’. Today it is known as ‘Sonate facile’ and is popular with piano amateurs, often being the first music of Mozart to digest. The structure of the first movement is of notebook discipline. It starts with a singing principal these, followed by a running scales. The recapitulation is the standard repeat of the exposision. The slow movement is touching in its simplicity and through very modest means is still able to build up a moving climax. The theme of the short Rondo is reminiscent of the cuckoo’s call.
Dinara Klinton is an active concert performer and prize-winner of over 15 international competitions. Dinara has performed at many major concert venues including the Royal Festival Hall and Wigmore Hall, and worked with such orchestras as The Philharmonia Orchestra and St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra. She has also appeared on BBC2 and on Radio 3. As a recording artist, Dinara has received widespread critical acclaim for her interpretations. Among many dazzling reviews, her album Liszt: Études d’exécution transcendante, S. 139, released by the German label GENUIN classics, was selected by BBC Music Magazine as Recording of the Month. Dinara’s debut album Music of Chopin and Liszt was made at the age of 16 with an American label DELOS, and the most recent CD is a part of renowned recording series Chopin. Complete Works on contemporary instruments, released by The Fryderyk Chopin Institute. Dinara graduated from the Moscow State Conservatory, has a Master of Performance degree with distinction from the Royal College of Music where she studied under Dina Parakhina and where she now holds a position of Assistant Professor of Piano https://christopheraxworthymusiccommentary.wordpress.com/2021/06/04/dinara-klinton-in-perivale-and-washington-dancesongtalesflowers-and-romance/
9.30 pm : Roman Kosyakov : Sonata in B flat K570
Allegro / Adagio / Allegretto
It was not until after this sonata was written in Vienna in 1789 that the style known as that of Mozart’s last years became apparent in his piano sonatas. There is no trace of splendour and richly singing cantilenas, as in the B flat major K333, or the tragic and overtly dramatic tensions of the C minor K457 sonatas. The language of this sonata is simple and clear with a deep inner meaning, nothing is superfluous or brilliant for its own sake. The music is not composed for the concert hall to dazzle the audience. The first movement begins with a calm theme in unison triads, followed by some conventional musical patterns. Two sudden chords introduce the singing second theme in E flat major. The recapitulation is almost identical to the exposition. The Adagio is reminiscent of an ensemble of wind instruments, notably the first bar’s ‘horn call’. The profound, almost processional development of the music is interrupted by an episode in C minor, introducing gentle ‘sigh’ motives in the middle a new theme appears, singing innocently in A flat major. The cheerful and lilting them of the rondo appears only twice, the middle section introducing a gay episode in staccato repeating notes, which could have walked straight out of the Magic Flute.
Roman Kosyakov is a Russian concert pianist, and Ambassador for Hastings International Piano Concerto Competition. He is a laureate of many nationals and international competitions: 2 nd prize in UK Piano Open International Piano Competition (London, 2020), 1 st prize in the 14th Hastings International Piano Concerto Competition (2018), Gold Prize of the 3 rd Manhattan International Music Competition (2018); 1 st prize and the audience prize in the 10th Sheepdrove Piano Competition (2018). He studied at the Central Music School in Moscow and at the Tchaikovsky Moscow Conservatoire. Since 2017, he has studied at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire with Pascal Nemirovski. Roman’s performance career includes engagements in prestigious venues and festivals across the UK, US and Europe. He is regularly invited to perform with the Hastings Philharmonic Orchestra, the English Symphony Orchestra and The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. In January 2019 Roman received “The Royal Birmingham Conservatoire – Silver Medal” by the Musician’s Company in the UK, became a member of Musician’s Company Yeomen Young Artists’ Programme. Roman is a winner of The Denis Matthews Memorial Trust award, Kirckman Concert Society Artist Prize and is a scholar of the Drake Calleja Trust. He has recorded a debut CD for “Naxos” with works by Liszt which was released in late 2020. https://christopheraxworthymusiccommentary.wordpress.com/2021/11/12/roman-kosyakov-hastings-prize-winners-concert-with-the-rpo-at-cadogan-hall-under-kevin-john-edusei/
9.50 pm Susanna Braun : Sonata in D K576
Allegro / Adagio / Allegretto
Mozart played this sonata, which proved to be his last one, in Berlin before the King of Prussia Frederick William II, in 1789. The King commissioned him to write some string quartets and piano sonatas of a ‘light’ character. Mozart only completed 3 string quartets and one piano sonata, this sonata in D major. It is far from being ‘light’, indeed the baroque-like counterpoint makes this one of the most difficult sonatas to perform. The ‘Hunt’ fanfare of the theme is used in the development in fugato-like episodes. The Adagio in A major exudes intimacy. The richly ornamented flow of melody and the strong underlying tensions of the music are characteristic of the late Mozart. The last movement, marked Allegretto, is a fine specimen of Mozart’s sonata-rondo. The skilful contrapuntal devices and the virtuosic finger-work make it a worthy conclusion to this ambitious sonata.
Susanna Braun, born in The Hague (June 1999) to Swiss parents, studied with Helen Krizos first at Chetham’s School of Music from 2012 to 2017 and then at the Royal Northern College of Music, where she completed her bachelor’s degree with “First Class Honours”. Besides, from 2016 to 2017 she attended the ‘Schola Cantorum de Paris’, class of Maurizio Moretti, where she was awarded the “Diplôme Supérieur” with unanimous highest mention and congratulations of the jury. Presently she is studying at the renowned International Academy in Imola ‘Incontri con il Maestro’ in the class of Boris Petrushansky and at the Conservatorio della Svizzera Italiana, with Anna Kravtchenko. Susanna is the winner of the 10th International Piano Competition for Young Musicians (Enschede 2018), received the NOB-Förderpreis (Encouragement prize from Neues Orchester Basel) in 2019 and among others won prizes at the Andrea Baldi International Piano Competition in Bologna, International Anton Rubinstein Competition in Düsseldorf, International Rosario-Marciano Competition in Vienna, Mazovia International Chopin Festival in Warsaw, International Competition Piano Talents in Milan, International Cesar Franck Piano Competition in Brussels. In May 2022, she will perform with the Philharmonic Orchestra “Mihail Jora” of Bacau, Romania, as part of the Città di Cantù 30th International Piano Competition. Susanna is the founder and artistic director of the International Chamber Music “Blenio Festival”, which was realized with great success for the first time in July of 2021 in Ticino, Switzerland. Susanna is grateful for the support of Talent Unlimited in London.
Hats off to Dr Mather for allowing us to hear a survey of the complete Mozart Sonatas played by some of the finest young pianists of the day.This followed on from the complete Beethoven cycle of 32 Sonatas last October.
A festival of all the major works of Chopin is announced for next October 1st and 2nd for Chopin’s 213th year!
Thank you Christopher for this superb write-up of yesterday’s festival. The performances will remain available on Youtube and Vimeo for 3 weeks. On our Vimeo showcase you can find the start of each sonata – have a look ! https://vimeo.com/showcase/6757898
Apologies – the long Youtube recording of last night’s Mozart Sonata festival at Perivale, with the last 8 pianists, has been completely blocked for ‘copyright reasons’. We are fed up with this madness which implies that someone playing Mozart at Perivale (Yuchong Wu playing K333) is miming another recording (Kim Taehyung) ! While we sort this out, the evening can still be viewed via our Vimeo showcase. https://vimeo.com/showcase/6757898 . Have a look – some remarkable performances.