Astonished ,amazed and completely exhausted by a performance of staggering proportions by Thomas Kelly of Rachmaninov third piano concerto.
I have heard Thomas play many times over the past four years since winning so unexpectedly the Schumann prize at the RCM .I heard him recently play in Hastings this very concerto but today he was like a man possessed.
In fact it was the same unbridled passion of his teacher Alexeev whose performance in Rome thirty years ago has remained with me ever since.
The reports of Rachmaninov from my old teacher Perlemuter who would often say of Rachmaninov coming on stage looking as though he had just swallowed a knife but would then produce the most wondrous sounds he had ever heard.
Today Thomas showed no outward signs and did not seem to look at the conductor even once but my God he was listening with an eagle eye that did not miss a trick.
A devilish almost demonic energy that was so assured and with such authority that it was breathtaking in its sweep and total commitment.There was sumptuous beauty as the left hand would mirror the melodic line and inner counterpoints would be generously shared giving such depth of sound and endless possibility of colour.At some moments his flat fingers and low wrist reminded me of Rachmaninov’s close friend Horowitz.
A performance where there was no doubt about a great musical personality on the crest of a wave .
I am much looking forward to his recital in Florence in a few weeks time for the Keyboard Trust series with Rachmaninov second sonata.
An orchestra of young professional musicians played remarkably well and the young conductor brought real passion and style to the beautiful opening of the second movement.
But this was Thomas’s night as even the orchestra realised as they cheered him to the rafters too.The Nimrod Orchestra of young colleagues from the Royal College of Music were superbly conducted by Daniel Hogan following Thomas’s every move and playing with sumptuous sounds and youthful passion.
The Decet for Winds by Enescu was a very adventurous choice for the opening of a concert but showed off the precision and musicianship of nine superb players with a sense of architectural shape from Daniel Hogan’s intelligent and sensitive baton.
A single candle wrapped in ribbons of the colours of the Ukrainian flag and placed by the front door was a beautiful way to end such a richly rewarding performance .