Axel Trolese in London for a live stream performance for the Keyboard Trust.A young musician mentored by Benedetto Lupo and Louis Lortie is certainly worth hearing and he certainly did not disappoint today. Four of the most complex works for the piano,either for reasons of breaking with tradition or coping with transcendental demands, that saw this young artist fearlessly and sometimes even recklessly in total command. A Chopin first ballade played with beauty and simplicity and if it could have had a little more time to breathe it was surely the same youthful passionate outpouring with which the young Polish emigre would have stolen the hearts of the noble ladies in the Parisian salons. Shorn of all traditional rhetoric it was a refreshing example of how Chopin’s own aristocratic passion can still speak so eloquently without any external intrusion from lesser hands. As Barbirolli said of the youthful Jaqueline Du Pre;’if you don’t play with that sort of passion in your youth what do you pare off in old age?’ With Jaqueline we were sadly but to catch an all too short glimpse but with Axel this is obviously just the beginning of a long and fulfilling career.
Fete Dieux a Seville is part of an on going project to record all of Albeniz Iberia (the first CD has already received high critical acclaim). This Spanish repertoire showed off his ravishing sense of colour and balance that allowed the melodic line to shine out clearly above all the transcendental hurdles that Albeniz places in its path. Scriabin’s deeply troubled third sonata was played with remarkable technical command and attention to detail whilst never sacrificing the overall ominous architectural shape. Gaspard de la Nuit where Ravel deliberately tried to out do the technical high jinx of Balakirev’s Islamey with his depiction of the goblin Scarbo. It was exactly the extraordinary characterisation he gave to this movement in particular,that I have never heard played with such attention to the meticulous dynamic indications of the composer without any lack of clarity or rhythmic drive. Ondine too have I rarely if ever heard in such fluid untroubled waters and if Le Gibet slightly lacked the same tension it certainly created the atmosphere of a gallows. Granada by Albeniz was Axel’s way of thanking the audience present for this live stream recording.
The talk with Leslie Howard ,one of the three artistic directors and founder member of the Keyboard Trust now celebrating its thirty years,will be available shortly together with the recital on the Keyboard Trust website.
Wonder of wonders at the Wigmore Hall where the star of Mahler was shining brightly tonight. With the generosity that only truly great artists can offer Alice Coote and Graham Johnson shared the stage with two artists from the next generation Marta Fontanais-Simmons and Fleur Barron.
A range of emotions as Mahler digs deep into the soul and it was in the overpowering emotion of Um Mitternacht that Alice had the people of the Ukraine in mind …..’the beating of my heart …I fought the fight ‘…..the tension was overwhelming for us all as she barely whispered ‘I am dead to the world’s tumult …I live alone in my heaven ,in my loving ,in my song’ moments of aching silence and an emotion I have only once felt before from Schwarzkopf and Hugo Wolf. We know how the land lies only too well these days!
There was beauty too from Maria in Lieder eines Fahrenden Gesellen and great emotion from Fleur Barron in Kindertotenlieder.
But it was the fun they shared together as a ‘farewell’ encore that brought the house down and a release of tension that had been almost unbearable in its intensity.
Graham like a great German orchestra presided at the piano producing colours and sounds with a sense of balance and architectural shape that only augmented and illuminated the searing intensity of Mahler’s deep journey into our soul .
Beethoven and Schumann Piano Trios: Ariel Lanyi, Charlie Lovell-Jones, Yoanna Prodanova
Ludwig van Beethoven Piano Trio in E flat op.70 no.2 Poco sostenuto allegro ma non troppo – Allegretto-Allegretto ma non troppo -Finale Allegro
Robert Schumann – Fantasiestucke op. 88 Romanze-Humoreske-Duett-Finale
Robert Schumann Piano Trio no.2 in F major op.80 Sehr lebhaft – Mit innigem Ausdruck-In massager Bewegung -Nicht zu rasch
Was it the shadow of Fou Ts’ong or the sumptuous hospitality of Oleg and Polina Kogan but there was truly magic in the air as the music of Beethoven and Schumann filled this intimate hall,built by the hands of a master cellist with music vibrating with such intensity that for a few precious hours time was allowed to stand still.
The passionate outpourings of the three superb young musicians united for the first time was quite overwhelming as we were allowed to eavesdrop on the intimate confessions of Ariel Lanyi,Charlie Lovell-Jones and Yoanna Prodanova.
A Beethoven of such beauty but also such dynamic personality as Ariel threw down the gauntlet to his two companions . Yoanna Prodanova showed us the sublime beauty and quixotic changes of character in Schumann’s Fantasiestucke op 88 for Piano Trio. It was though the sublime beauty and subtlety of sound that Charlie Lovell-Jones brought to the Schumann Trio op 80 that was as heart melting as it was breathtaking.His wonderful Guadagnini violin reminded us of the kaleidoscopic sound of Norbert Brainin who could turn any bauble into a gem. The birth of a great team destined for the heights and it was fitting that it should have been born in a musical salon created with such loving care by two renowned musician who with selfless generosity have given a home to Fou Ts’ongs much loved piano. A home where only true musicians may dare to enter.
In 2021, Ariel Lanyi won third prize at the Leeds International Piano Competition, and was a prize winner in the inaugural Young Classical Artists Trust (London) and Concert Artists Guild (New York) International Auditions.Over the last year Ariel has made his debut at Wigmore Hall and participated in the Marlboro Music Festival in Vermont, alongside renowned artists such as Mitsuko Uchida and Jonathan Biss.His recording of music by Schubert for Linn Records was released, and he gave live concerts (for release online) for the Vancouver Recital Society in Canada and the Banco de la República in Colombia. As soloist he performed Brahms Concerto No.2 with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, and Beethoven’s Concerto No.2 at the Royal Academy of Music.This season Ariel returns to give performances in the Miami Piano Festival and at Wigmore Hall, as well as recitals in Rome and across the UK, and performances with orchestras in Israel and in the US, playing concerti by Mozart and Brahms.Ariel has performed widely in Europe, previous highlights including recitals at the deSingel Arts Centre in Antwerp (stepping in for Till Fellner), Salle Cortot in Paris and a performance of Mozart’s Concerto, K.491 with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. Conductors whom he has in the past collaborated with include Yi-An Xu, Peter Whelan, Andrew Manze, and Trevor Pinnock. He regularly appears in concerts broadcast live on Israeli radio and television and on Radio France.Born in Jerusalem in 1997, in 2021 Ariel completed his studies at the Royal Academy of Music in London with Ian Fountain, having studied with the late Hamish Milne. Prior to this, he studied at the High School and Conservatory of the Jerusalem Academy of Music, first with Lea Agmon, later with Yuval Cohen. Whilst there, he also studied violin and composition.An avid chamber musician, Ariel has collaborated with leading members of the Berliner Philharmoniker and the Concertgebouw Amsterdam, as well as with eminent musicians such as Maria João Pires, Marina Piccinini, Charles Neidich, and Torleif Thedéen. Festival appearances include the Hvide Sande (Denmark), Ravello (Italy), Ausseer Festsommer (Austria), Bosa Antica (Sardinia) and Israel Festivals.Ariel has received extensive tuition from eminent artists such as Robert Levin, Murray Perahia, Imogen Cooper, Leif Ove Andsnes, Steven Osborne, and the late Leon Fleisher and Ivan Moravec. Awards include 1st Prize at the 2018 Grand Prix Animato Competition in Paris and 1st Prize in the Dudley International Piano Competition, as well as a finalist award at the Rubinstein Competition.In 2012 he released Romantic Profiles on LYTE records, an album featuring music by Schumann, Liszt, Brahms, and Janáček. Ariel is a Countess of Munster Recital Scheme Artist
YoannaProdanova was born in 1992 in Varna, Bulgaria. Having emigrated to Canada in 2006 and currently based in London, she performs internationally and enjoys a busy schedule both as a solo cellist and a chamber musician. A recipient of the Sylva Gelber Award and the Making Music Award for Young Concert Artists, her recent concerto performances include Elgar with the Orchestra of St John’s, Dvorak with the South East London Orchestra and Haydn C major with the RAM Chamber Orchestra led by the Doric String Quartet. In 2019 Yoanna gave a recital at the Studio Ernest Ansermet in Geneva which was broadcast live on RTS Espace 2 and included the Swiss premiere of a sonata for cello and piano by Romanian pianist and composer Valentin Gheorghiu. Yoanna has made recordings for the labels Linn and Orchard, including her debut solo album with pianist Mihai Ritivoiu including works by Chopin, Faure and Janacek, and the Brahms clarinet trio with pianist Somi Kim and clarinettist Joseph Shiner. Hugely passionate about chamber music, Yoanna has been invited to festivals such as Peasmarsh Festival, Siete Lagos in Patagonia, Prussia Cove Open Chamber, Rencontres de Bélaye, Quatuors à Bordeaux, St Magnus Festival, Buxton International Festival and others. She has had the pleasure to play with great artists such as Anthony Marwood, Richard Lester, Ian Swensen, clarinettist Andrew Marriner and pianist Richard Raymond. She is the cellist of the award winning Barbican Quartet, and the Prodanova-Ritivoiu duo Romanian pianist Mihai Ritivoiu. After having studied at the Conservatoire de musique de Montreal, Yoanna obtained her Bachelor and Master’s degrees at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. In 2019 she graduated from the prestigious Advanced Diploma course at the Royal Academy of Music where she was a Bicentenary Scholar. Her main teachers were Daniela Kirilova, Denis Brott, Louise Hopkins, Rebecca Gilliver, Richard Lester and Hannah Roberts. She has also worked with Ralph Kirshbaum, Steven Isserlis, Gary Hoffman and Andras Keller. Yoanna plays on Giuseppe Gagliano cello generously provided by the Canimex Group, Canada.
Charlie Lovell-Jones made his debut at a sold-out Royal Festival Hall debut aged 15. He has since appeared as soloist with orchestras including the English Chamber, Sendai Philharmonic and Yamagata Symphony, as well as the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and the RTÉ Concert Orchestra, with whom he has broadcast on BBC Radio 3, Radio Wales, and RTÉ Radio. He has worked with many conductors, including John Wilson, Edward Gardner, Sir Mark Elder, Ken Takaseki, Moritz Gnann, Grant Llewellyn, Ben Gernon, Stephen Bell and Jonathan Mann. Charlie was a semifinalist in the Sendai 2019 and the Shanghai Isaac Stern 2020 International Violin Competitions. He was selected for the Joachim International Violin Competition 2021, but withdrew in order to lead the multi-award-winning Sinfonia of London in their debut BBC Prom and several album recordings, garnering critical acclaim from Gramophone Magazine and Classic FM. In 2017, BBC NOW premiered Charlie’s composition for violin, soprano and orchestra, Cariad Cyntaf, with Rebecca Evans. He was a BBC Young Musician 2016 Category Finalist, and was the youngest-ever member of the John Wilson Orchestra aged 14.Charlie held several scholarships at Oxford University, where he graduated in 2020 with a Gibbs Prize for the highest 1st-class Musicology Degree. That same year, he was offered a Bicentenary Scholarship on the spot in his postgraduate audition for the Royal Academy of Music, where he studies with his long-term teacher, Rodney Friend MBE. He is grateful for support from the Harriet Cohen Music Award, the Hattori Foundation, the Drake Calleja Trust, and the Countess of Munster Trust in his studies. Cardiff City Council and the Welsh Livery Guild supported Charlie’s attendance at many International Violin Academies from 2012-2020. He has enjoyed masterclasses with violinists such as Ida Haendel, Anne-Sophie Mutter, Vadim Repin, Menahem Praessler, Pinchas Zukerman, James Ehnes, and Leonidas Kavakos.Charlie’s 2021-2 season includes performances of Britten Double, Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev 1st, Coleridge-Taylor, and Karl Jenkins violin concertos, concerts at the Beaminster, Bloomsbury, Isle of Wight and Lower Machen Music Festivals, the Fidelio Orchestra Cafe, the Stapleford Granary, and the Razumovsky Academy, and as part of his Bicentenary scholarship, his debut album recording with Linn Records. His 2022-3 season features many concerto and recital appearances. As a J&A Beare Violin Society Artist, Charlie plays a 1777 G.B. Guadagnini violin, generously loaned by a private benefactor.
Haydn: Sonata in D Hob. XVI:33 Allegro / Adagio / Minuet
Brahms: 3 Intermezzi Op 117 no 1 in E flat no 2 in B flat minor no 3 in C sharp minor
Schumann: Carnaval Op 9
As Hugh Mather suggested could it be her ‘interesting state’ as we say in Italy that gave such authority and weight to Caterina Grewe’s playing today. After an hour of sumptuous playing of Haydn,Brahms and Schumann she still had the energy to pour out her soul in a passionate performance of the Liszt transcription of Schubert’s Aufenthalt from Schwanengesang. A Haydn Sonata in D inexplicably rarely heard in the concert hall was given a performance of such charm and courtly dignity.A delicacy together with a rhythmic energy where ornaments just glittered like jewels from her spring like fingers.But there was above all the sublime chiselled beauty of the Adagio where her limpet type fingers squeezed out of each note such velvet sounds and luminosity that I have only heard from that other great woman pianist Gina Bachauer.The final Minuet and variations entered without a break with poise and lilt as the variations unfolded with such mellifluous tranquility.
Three Brahms Intermezzi op 117 were played with such aristocratic poise and emotion where the simplicity and beauty that poured from Brahms’s pen late in life were simply illuminated and allowed to speak for themselves.The first with a simplicity and beauty but with a forward movement like floating on a gentle wave that carried us forward into a magic land spread over the entire Keyboard.Such ravishing sounds where even the last chord shone like a bright wondrous star.There was such clarity in the sparsely pedalled florid opening of the B flat minor Intermezzo which contrasted so well with the sumptuous sonority of the middle episode.A solidity mixed with beauty in the last C sharp minor Intermezzo played with an aristocratic sense of style of such control and deep inner feeling of bitter sweet nostalgia and deep lament.
Caterina had me searching amongst my vinyl records that I am loathe to throw away as they meant so much to me in my formative years as a student.
I still remember the magic of this Schumann recording that came over with such magic on the record of Guiomar Novaes.Turnabout recordings were 50p each and included so many wonderful performances from Brendel’s early Liszt B minor sonata and Norma paraphrase to his complete Beethoven through to many rare recordings of the magnificent Neapolitan recluse Sergio Fiorentino etc. How lucky to be brought up to hear works for the first time in such performances that have now gone down in history.
I was reminded fifty years on of the recording of Novaes as Caterina played with the same simplicity and aristocratic bearing that excluded any fussy nuances that have attached themselves through tradition.This was purity and clarity where Schumann’s masterpiece was once more placed on the pinnacle where it truly belongs.
Each of the characters in Schumann’s Carnaval were brought vividly to life from the majestic opening fanfare of Florestan mixed with the charm of Eusebius.It was interesting to see the presto rinforzando played with one pointed finger as it ended this introduction and also the finale with such a noble flourish.Pierrot was almost as startling as Mussorgsky’s Gnomus leading to the delicate quixotic Arlequin or disarming simplicity of Eusebius.The beauty of the Valse noble too where the middle section was played so simply not allowing the counter melody to overpower the musical line as Cortot does ( quite magically actually as only he could).The high jinx of Florestan was only to be teasingly calmed by Coquette and Réplique before the fleeting butterflies and dancing letters took us to the passionate outpouring of Chiarina or the ravishing beauty of Chopin.
Reconnaisance was played with admirable control at a sedate pace that contrasted so well with the duet and beauty of the central episode.There was rhythmic fun and games with Pantalon and Colombine but a coda of ravishing beauty and impish charm.The delightfully sedate Valse Allemande was rudely interrupted by the virtuosistic antics of Paganini with some superbly controlled playing before being shown the door as the Valse was allowed to finish its untainted course. The sublime beauty of Aveu was played with such inward passion and led to the final promenade and the triumphant March of Davidsbundler against the Philistines!Some quite superb playing with not a note out of place in a performance of extraordinary architectural and emotional understanding. Caterina was indeed blessed today as we hope she will be in the near future with a child born on wings of song. https://youtube.com/watch?v=YtzXUbbbC1k&feature=share
German-Japanese Pianist Caterina Grewe, born in Tokyo, has performed to great critical acclaim throughout the world as a Steinway Artist. Her recitals have been broadcasted by the BBC, the NDR in Hamburg, France Musique, Sky TV and ZDF in Germany. She has won numerous prizes at world-renowned piano competitions such as the Maria Canals International Piano Competition in Barcelona, the Dublin International Piano Competition, Lagny-Sur-Marne International Piano Competition in Paris, Norah Sande Award in Eastbourne, Mayenne International Piano Competition in France, Lyon International Piano Competition and Rhodes International Piano Competition in Greece. She studied at the Hamburg Conservatory, the Chetham’s School of Music and completed her studies at the Royal College of Music in 2013 where she graduated with distinction. During her time there, Caterina was awarded the Kendal Taylor Beethoven Piano Prize as well as the HRH Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Rose Bowl by the Prince of Wales. She is now a Piano Professor at the Royal College of Music and the Purcell School in London
Angela Hewitt at the Wigmore Hall playing with character and style she delighted with Mozart,astonished with Chabrier and seduced with Ravel.But it was Bach that moved and uplifted us in these difficult times.Claire de lune played as an encore gave us hope for a better future. https://youtu.be/IXNMsVmPJdc
The Piano Sonata No. 12 in F majorK. 332 by Mozart was published in 1784 along with the Sonata n.10 and 11 K.330 and K.331.He wrote them either while visiting Munich in 1781, or during his first two years in Vienna.Some believe, however that Mozart wrote them during a summer 1783 visit to Salzburg made for the purpose of introducing his wife Costanze to his father, Leopold All three sonatas were published in Vienna in 1784 as Mozart’s Op. 6.In the 1923 novel Antic Hay by Aldous Huxley ,this sonata is the one Gumbril thinks of every time he imagines Emily’s body; from his description of the key sequence, he is thinking specifically of the first movement.In the 1994 film too ‘Immortal Beloved’Giulietta Guicciardini ( to whom the so called Moonlight Sonata is dedicated) is heard playing this beautiful second movement during a piano lesson with Beethoven!An Allegro that was pure opera with contrast of purity and beauty both dramatic and energetic .The simplicity of the opening theme was answered by the magic of the horns before the dramatic entrance of our next character.But the shy coquettish entrance of the character that followed was with a very subtle hesitation before she appeared fully with her delicate voice that was to be transformed in a discourse between the rumbustuous changing harmonies and the beseeching reply.The shy questioning at the end of the development prepared the way for the return of the utter simplicity of the opening.Too difficult for adults and too easy for children chimes Schnabel but not for Angela who has taken to the operatic stage with such identification with all the characters that Mozart puts before us.There was the entry of the bel canto coloratura in the gentle Adagio where Angela allowed her just enough freedom and subtle inflections to bring her voice to the fore with melting beauty.There was also the sense of orchestral colour where Mozart simply writes ‘sfp’ for the entry of the woodwinds.Magic in the air too as Angela insinuated the minor key that almost became too serious but was defused in time to return to the beginning before winding its way to the end.The sparkling ornaments and slight hesitation brought such poignancy to the final seemingly simple two bars.The virtuosity and high jinx of the Allegro assai was every bit as invigorating as the most ebullient of Mozart’s operatic characters .There was the shy dolce contrast with is rude interruptions before spinning on its way so mellifluously and carefree .There was drama too in the minor key with technical brilliance and recitativo freedom before the return to the bubbling energy of the beginning.But it was as if Mozart is telling us at the end that it was after all only a story as it dies away into the distance.A journey that Angela treated us to today and from her facial expressions she was enjoying every bit of the story she was telling too.
The Piano Sonata No. 13 in B flat K.333 was composed by Mozart in Linz at the end of 1783.On the basis of Mozart’s script it can be assigned to 1783/84, “likely not long before the appearance of the first print.” Furthermore it has been convincingly demonstrated through paper tests that the work was composed at the end of 1783, likely in November, around the same time as the “Linz Symphony” K.425 when the Mozart couple made a stopover in Linz on their way back to Vienna from Salzburg.There was subtle beauty and simplicity of the opening melody with the same sense of characterisation as in K.332.The question and answer of the development as drama appears on the horizon only to dissolve into the purity of the opening melodic line with searching harmonies as it found its way again.There was a flowing beauty to the almost too serious Andante cantabile where the subtle ornamentation in the repeat just added to the poignancy before the mystery and drama of the central section and Mozart’s own florid embroidering of the of the opening theme before the gentle final chord.Graceful but energetic charm of the Allegretto grazioso and a glorious outburst before the florid cadenza so reminiscent of his D minor fantasy as it gently finds its way back to the grazioso.An almost nostalgic coda rudely interrupted in true Beethovenian style slamming the door tightly shut.
Ravel wrote the first movement of the Sonatine between 1903/1905 for a competition sponsored by the Weekly Critical Review magazine after being encouraged by a close friend who was a contributor to that publication. The competition requirement was the composition of the first movement of a piano sonatina no longer than 75 bars,with the prize being 100 francs.In 1941 the publication Music & Letters printed the article When Ravel Composed to Order by Michel Dimitri Calvocoressi. Calvocoressi discussed how he supposedly encouraged Ravel to write the piece in response to a competition posted in the Paris Weekly Critical Review. Peter Jost of G. Henle Publishers found the original article in the Review published in three March 1903 editions. The original manuscript that Ravel submitted had the text ‘par Verla’ written and struck out, replaced with ‘par Maurice Ravel’. Ravel submitted the piece under a pseudonym and chose an anagram of his name.The Sonatine was first performed fully in Lyon on March 10, 1906 by Paule de Lestang.Shortly afterwards the piece received a Paris premiere, where it was played by Gabriel Grovlez.It was dedicated to Ida and Cipa Godebski; he later dedicated his Ma mère l’Oye suite to their children.The piece is in three movements:Modéré (moderate);Mouvement de menuet;Animé (animated)There were such beautiful liquid sounds of subtle colouring and phrasing.Beautiful left hand colouring in the return of the main theme that gave such depth and sumptuous beauty to this early work of Ravel.There was a gentle lilt to the Minuet but with that typical aristocratic French sound that was later to be such a hallmark of Poulenc and Paris between the wars.Jewels that glittered too before the final disintegration of nostalgic phrases and the grandiloquent final long drawn out chord.A stream of golden sounds that Ravel himself could never dare play in public but in Angela’s hand were of a liquidity and luminosity before the final passionate outpouring.
Bourrée fantasque” by Emmanuel Chabrier (1841–1894),was one of his last major completed works and is dedicated to the pianist Edouard Risler (1873–1929), who in fact did not play the work in public until after the composer’s death. In a letter to Risler dated 12 May 1891, Chabrier wrote, “I have made you a little piano piece which I think is quite amusing and in which I have counted about 113 different sonorities. Let us see how you will make this one shine! It should be bright and crazy!” The precision of the notation in each bar, dynamics from ppp to tutta forza, accents, pedal indications, bear witness to his wish to obtain an exceptional tonal variety and richness.According to Alfred Cortot it is “one of the most exciting and original works in the whole literature of French piano music”. Excitement and exhilaration of great dexterity with Islamey like repeated notes.Sudden changes of mood and colour too only to end in a flourish of glory and astonishing brilliance.
The ravishing beauty of Debussy’s Claire de lune was Angela’s way of thanking her faithful Wigmore public who had once again filled every seat in this hallowed much loved hall.
Angela’s Bach is a monument that has been justly recognised the world over and needs no comment from me.From the sheer beauty of the F sharp major fugue that led so eloquently to the haunting beauty of its minor and its surprising tongue in cheek fugue.Only to be followed by the mellifluously flowing G major prelude and toccata like fugue.But it was the grandeur of the French overture in G minor that was overwhelming in its unrelenting authority.I think High Priestess could be the well deserved accolade for someone who has dedicated their life to the Genius of Cothen .
I have heard Pedro before,encouraged to listen to a very talented student by his teacher at the RCM Norma Fisher. I could never have imagined that he would mature into an artist of such stature that the only way of describing his recital today was ‘sensational’.Such weight and sensitivity where every note had a meaning in an overall architectural structure of remarkable maturity.Could it have been the times we are living as Semyon Bychkov said introducing Ma Vlast – My fatherland with the Czech Philharmonic?Maybe we listen in these terrible times to the music we have known for a life time in a different way.
The Great Gate of Kiev we certainly listened in a different way today not only because of the terrible news from the Ukraine but also because this young man played it with such a sense of style and colour with real physical elan.An old much abused war horse was truly reborn as we hope a miracle might occur in real life to curb the zealous evil of a despot.
It had been from the very first luminous notes of the Promenade of Mussorgsky’s Pictures that our attention was immediately caught and we were held very much under the spell of the authority and extraordinary musicianship of this young artist.The character he brought to Gnomus was captivating as was the sublime beauty of the promenade 2 before the gentle flow of the Old Castle .It was played with such subtle colouring with a sumptuous sense of balance of utmost sensitivity.A promenade 3 of weight and determination led to the irresistible insistence of children quarrelling in the Tuileries only to be interrupted by the grandeur of Bydlo.Such delicacy and luminosity in the promenade 4 was followed by the rhythmic pointing and delight of the unmatched chicks to find such fingerfertigkeit!Has Samuel Goldenberg ever sounded so pompous and serious and Schmuyle so beseechingly humble?The dexterity in the market place was astonishing for the breath control at such a pace.His sense of colour in catacombae was truly kaleidoscopic where every note of every chord had such meaning.The sheer physical urgency of Baba Yaga was overpowering with an absolutely hypnotic energy that swept all before it.There was such grandeur in the opening statement of the Great Gate and a serenity and complete change of colour that was deeply moving for the two chorale episodes.The gradual tolling of the bells showed a quite extraordinary sense of balance and control without ever loosing the inner tension and energy.It demonstrated the total immersion of this young artist in his magic sound world that he was able to share so magnificently with us today.
A spontaneous standing ovation and insistence brought Pedro back with his castanets ,clicking his heels in an an absolutely scintillating performance of El Pelele by Granados .I never expected to hear it played with such charm and style again since Alicia de Larrocha used to seduce us with it in Rome.He could have played all night but with three quarters of a century still before him this is just the beginning of a long and illustrious career.
Mention should be made of the curtain raiser.Clara Schumann’s Romance op 11 n.1 played with loving care.A great sense of balance with luminosity and delicacy and an aristocratic sense of style as he allowed this Mendelssohnian lament to unfold so naturally.Strange to see his right hand passing under the left but he could have played it on his head as the beauty of the music was obviously deep in his soul.Lieberman’s four Gargoyles were played with Prokofievian athleticism and rhythmic energy that swept all before it and gave us a foretaste of what was to come later in the programme.A beautiful Adagio and an even more mellifluous Allegro moderato gave us already a glimpse of his great sense of style and artistry.
Cristian Sandrin at the National Liberal Club in a varied programme that showed off every facet of his quite considerable artistry.Opening with the Bach Prelude and Fugue in F minor Book 1 he managed to convey all its architectural shape on the magnificent Steinway D piano that lay before him.A refined control of sound allowed us to follow Bach’s genial meanderings with a clarity and sense of style with the entry of the deep bass notes giving such strength to the overall structure.The fugue entered in a religious whisper of such piety never allowing the purity of Bach’s extraordinary knotty twine to be out of focus whilst building gradually to an architectural climax that brought a seemingly innocuous fugue to a conclusion of powerful conviction.
There was the same clarity but also an extraordinary sense of colour to the eleventh study from the late masterpieces that Debussy had distilled and refined during a lifetime of sensitivity and mastery of atmosphere and colour. The most beautiful of his set of twelve is ‘pour les arpèges composées’that certainly Hanon or Czerny could never have contemplated! The arpeggio in all its shapes and sizes woven into a magic web of ravishing sounds.Stating so simply the opening arpeggio played with the same golden sound that Cristian had beguiled us with in Bach but soon transformed into cascades of etherial arabesques with the contrast of the quixotic minstral that the genius Debussy had incorporated. These are no longer just studies for the ‘fingerfertigkeit’but true tone poems where the dry boring scales and arpeggios of our youth are transformed into magic webs of sound.
Cristian’s hands seem to belong to the keys as his movements are mirrored in the sounds he makes with never an unintentional jagged edge,but velvet sounds shaped and styled with sensitive artistry. The sound of Rubinstein in Spanish and French music will never be forgotten It was a sound never sentimental but with a nobility and suavity typical of the golden era in Paris of Poulenc,Cocteau,Picasso etc.A mecca for artists where striving for innocence and purity could insinuate the very opposite but never with unintentional vulgarity or sentimentality. It is a purity of sound more masculine than feminine but full of aristocratic elegance and nostalgia. Cristian’s opening was beautiful but gave the game away too soon.The passion and sweep that he found later was remarkable but the bitter sweet opening just eluded him. Even so it in no way completely spoilt the overall impression of the passionate maiden and her mellifluous nightingale that flittered out of Cristian’s hands with such clarity and delicacy.
Cristian’s performance of Beethoven’s sonata op 109 I have written about on several occasions,notably his last performance of the Beethoven trilogy in Florence. The performance gets better and better as like all great artists he digs deeper and deeper into Beethoven’s final thoughts. To think that Beethoven could only hear these works in his inner ear.It is even more remarkable that he could notate his wishes with such precision for posterity. Cristian’s interpretation is gaining in weight and authority on every outing and his extraordinary technical prowess brings the genial final sounds miraculously to life.Trill’s that with his very individual technique seem to be played in the air as he literally hovers over the keys allowing Beethoven’s theme to appear on a cloud of sounds that are both clear and suggestively atmospheric.
The master of this was the young Ashkenazy of whom both physically and musically Cristian reminds me. A tour de force of interpretation showing that real technique is translating ones imagination into sounds as Debussy has shown us in his final masterpieces for the piano. It is proof of the great genius of Beethoven who when completely deaf could translate what was only in his own private ear into notes on a blank page. Notes that could be translated into the same secret sounds,that only he could imagine,by those that dared enter his private world. The power and beauty of Beethoven is indeed universal in the hands of an interpreter who can struggle and suffer for his art in the same way as the composer in his moment of divine inspiration.
The nocturne by Sciarrino was like a sorbet in a great feast.The pungent sounds and gentle athleticism were so refreshing as Cristian imbued these sparse sounds with an architectural sense of line that was quite remarkable.Reminding me more of Bartok than Stockhausen with its constant recurring sounds like a Swiss clock carved with enviable precision by such a crystalline technical command of not only the keyboard but also the pedals!
Two jewels from Lili Boulanger,sister of the great pedagogue Nadia ,who was tragically struck down still only in her mid twenties. They showed what promise there might have been had she been granted longer on this earth.I remember Nadia Boulanger extolling the genius of her sister and doing much to promote the not inconsiderable works that she had left at the age of only twenty five. These small salon pieces already show a real musical personality and sense of style somewhat more reminiscent of John Ireland than Ravel. How many great composers were taken from us too as a generation was wiped out so uselessly in the First World War.The First World War began on 28 July 1914 and ended on 11 November 1918
Ravel’s Miroirs (as a lorry driver in the war he was saved from sure annihilation) and the Ginastera Sonata n.1 I have written about before. Cristian’s interpretation of Ravel’s masterpiece of colour and character were etched in streams of gold and silver.From the fleeting lightness of the ‘moths’ and the luminosity of the ‘sad birds’ both in a desolate languid landscape that Ravel depicts with such extraordinary sultry sounds bathed in mists of pedal.A boat on the swirling waves of an ocean brought to life with technical prowess by Cristian just as he had thrown off the treacherous double glissandi that Ravels troubadour beguiles us with in his hypnotic depiction of Spain. It is impossible to believe ,listening to this ‘Jester’s Aubade’,that it takes a French man to depict so distinctly a country they had never actually even visited ! The Bells in Cristian’s valley were bathed in a magic both distant menacing but vibrantly at peace. A peace immediately interrupted by the explosive rhythmic outburst of Ginastera’s Sonata n.1. A tour de force of drive and frenzied resilience that only found a momentary respite in the monumental Adagio.Placed between the rushing whispered wind of the Presto Misterioso and the Prokovian high jinks of athleticism in the Ruvido ed Ostinato.
An extraordinary recital and a foretaste of what awaits Barcellona in a few weeks’ time.
Cristian would have happily danced all night but our genial host Peter Whyte was anxious to thank this young artist who was following in the footsteps of Rachmaninov and Moisewitch whose shadows could be felt tonight in these hallowed surrounds.
But the bar was now open and it was time for Cristians illustrious colleagues (notably Tyler Hay,Damir Durmanovic,David Earl and even an illustrious critic !)to celebrate with a glass in their hands. Toasting this feast of music that the Liberal club so liberally(sic) and generously had shared with us tonight
Salvatore Sciarrino born in 1947 is a native of Palermo and as a youth was attracted to the visual arts, but began experimenting with music when he was twelve. Though he had some lessons from Antonino Titone and Turi Belfiore, he is primarily self-taught as a composer.A stranger (also for reasons of age) to the pointillist-structuralist phase of the New Music, Sciarrino, along with Xenakis and Ligeti he was among the voices most lucidly critical of Darmstadt’s orthodoxy, its contradictions and its limits, animated by that concrete desire for “sound” that some other composers were developing in those years.
As a Parisian-born child prodigy Lili Boulanger’s talent was apparent at the age of two, when Fauré, a friend of the family, discovered she had perfect pitch . Her parents, both of whom were musicians, encouraged their daughter’s musical education. Her mother, Raissa Myshetskaya (Mischetzky), was a Russian princess who married her teacher from the Paris Conservatoire ,Ernest Boulanger (1815–1900), who won the Prix de Rome in 1835. Her father was 77 years old when she was born and she became very attached to him. Her grandfather Frédéric Boulanger had been a noted cellist and her grandmother Juliette a singer.Lili was the first female winner of the Prix de Rome composition prize.Her older sister was the noted composer and composition teacher Nadia Boulanger.She suffered from chronic illness, beginning with a case of bronchial pneumonia at age two that weakened her immune system, leading to the intestinal tuberculosis that ended her life in 1918 at the age of 24.The two pieces played tonight are from 1914.
“To remain silent today is to betray our conscience and our values, and ultimately what defines the nobility of human nature.”Semyon Bychkov
Czech Philharmonic/Semyon Bychkov & Yuja Wang A tribute to the people of Ukraine A Yuja Wang in scintillating form in Rachmaninov’s first piano concerto with the sumptuously free strings of this historic orchestra.Semyon Bychkov’s extraordinarily fluid magic wand creating a continuous stream of sounds from an orchestra of the grandest of traditions.It was from the very opening romantic sounds of Rachmaninov that there was a flexibility of shape and style of operatic proportions with a richness of sound and colour that I have only ever heard from Rachmaninov’s favourite orchestra in Philadelphia.Yuja Wang’s absolute authority from the opening octaves was breathtaking as was the sumptuous way she could draw the audience in to eavesdrop on such ravishing musings or take us by storm with her scintillating energy in the last movement.The great first movement cadenza she built up the rich sonority from a mere whisper in such a masterly way that one would not have thought the amount of sound and power possible from the elegant lady in the flaming red dress .Piano playing of the Golden age bequeathed to her by her great mentorGary Graffman.
Throughout the concert Semyon Bychkov’s authority artistry and above all humanity and integrity illuminated a sold out Barbican and we left uplifted and resolved as never before.
A short speech and the Ukrainian National Anthem was a very dignified way to open such a poignant occasion.’A music that is an identification with the land that brought us into this world.We hear this music now at a time when people are suffering in a way that is hard for us to imagine,somehow the notes sound differently’
It was in the spring of 1902 that the Czech Philharmonic first took up residency in London,the first to do so ,and today more than a hundred years (and several visits) later, they come with their chief conductor and musical director since 2018,Semyon Bychkov bringing a message of solidarity and peace in light of the tragedy that is unfolding in the past few weeks in the Ukraine.
Sergei Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No 1 1. Vivace – Moderato 2. Andante 3. Allegro vivace Bedřich SmetanaMá vlast (My Fatherland) 1. Vyšehrad (The High Castle) 2. Vltava (The Moldau) 3. Šárka 4. Z českých luhů a hájů (From Bohemia’s Woods and Fields) 5. Tábor 6. Blaník
Sergei Rachmaninov, newly graduated from Moscow Conservatory in 1892 premiered the first movement of this work but was never quite satisfied with it and it was in 1917 after writing his Second and Third Piano Concertos,that he began the revision whilst blocking out the Revolutionary turmoil all around him.It was the last major work he composed before leaving Russia for ever .Rachmaninov’s changes were quite extensive especially in the last movement but it still balances the extraordinary virtuosity and a romantic lyricism that was characteristic of Rachmaninov one of the great virtuosi of his day.These two sides can be heard, for example, in the first movement, where, after a brass statement combined with cascading piano double octaves, the orchestra launches into the broadly lyrical main theme.
Bedřich Smetana (2 March 1824 – 12 May 1884 )was a German speaking Czech composer who pioneered the development of a musical style that became closely identified with his people’s aspirations to a cultural and political “revival.” He has been regarded in his homeland as the father of Czech music.He is best known outside his homeland for his opera The Bartered Bride and for the symphonic cycle Mà vlast (“My Fatherland”), which portrays the history, legends and landscape of the composer’s native Bohemia .In 1861, it was announced that a Provisional Theatre would be built in Prague, as a home for Czech opera and Smetana saw this as an opportunity to write and stage opera that would reflect Czech national character.At this stage in his career, Smetana’s command of Czech was poor as his generation of Czechs was educated in German,and he had difficulty expressing himself in what was supposedly his native tongue.To overcome these linguistic deficiencies he studied Czech grammar, and made a point of writing and speaking in Czech every day.By the end of 1874, Smetana had become completely deaf but, freed from his theatre duties and the related controversies, he began a period of sustained composition that continued for almost the rest of his life. His contributions to Czech music were increasingly recognised and honoured, but a mental collapse early in 1884 led to his incarceration in an asylum and subsequent death already from 1879, Smetana had written to friends revealing fears of the onset of madness and by the winter of 1882–83 he was experiencing depression, insomnia, and hallucinations, together with giddiness, cramp and a temporary loss of speech.His family, unable to nurse him any longer, removed him to the Kateřinky Lunatic Asylum in Prague, where he died on 12 May 1884.The hospital registered the cause of death as senile dementia.However, Smetana’s family believed that his physical and mental decline was due to syphilis.
The State Opera is part of the National Theatre of the Czech Republic, founded by Ministry of Culture of the Czech Republic in 1992. It was originally opened in 1888 as the New German Theatre and from 1949 to 1989 it was known as the SmetanaTheatre . More recently it was renamed the Prague State Opera And is home to approximately 300 performances a year. It regularly plays Smetana’s nine operas in the original Czech.I was present at a performance of ‘The Kiss’ where the whole audience was participating totally and applauded wildly when the ‘Kiss’ actually occurred much as in England with the Pantomime or in Italy and Vienna with Operetta.A very stirring and moving experience indeed.
‘My Fatherland ‘ contains the famous symphonic poem “Vltava”,also popularly known by its German name “Die Moldau”and is a cornerstone of Czech repertoire. Though inspired by the Lisztian ideal of the symphonic poem Smetana only slowly came to the idea of a cycle of ‘poems’ extolling his homeland.The first ‘poem’ – ‘Vyšehrad’ – was completed in November 1874 and premiered on 14 March 1875. Portraying the mythical birthplace of Prague, the legendary and historical fortress which stands on a rock east of the river Vltava, the piece begins with a solo harp playing the ‘Vyšehrad motif’. As Smetana said, ‘a poet sings of the events on Vyšehrad, of glory and splendour, of tournaments and battles, and of eventual decline and ruin. The poem ends on an elegiac note.’Janáček described the reaction to Smetana’s second poem ‘Vltava’ when in 1875 he first heard it: “At the end a tumultuous roar fused into the name Smetana!” ‘Vltava’ is the most popular of Ma vlást’s movements. It depicts the course of the mighty Czech river (in German: ‘Moldau’) that flows through much of Bohemia, from its source as two rivulets, past a woodland hunt, peasants’ wedding, and mermaids in moonlight, to St. John’s Rapids. The ‘river’ theme blazes forth in major mode, setting up a victorious return to Vyšehrad, before fading away. The Vltava eventually joins the Elbe. The third movement depicts the legend of Šárka who avenged herself on men for an earlier infidelity. We hear the approach of Ctirad and his men, the cry of anguish Šárka feigned to lure Ctirad’s men to her maidens’ trap, love music, carousal, slumber and then a horn, Šárka’s signal to start the massacre. ‘From Bohemia’s Woods and Fields’, denotes Smetana’s love of the Bohemian countryside. He basks in generous melody though making prominent use of fugue.By 1878, Smetana had decided to expand his original concept of three to six movements, ending with a pair inspired by the Hussite period in Czech history. Both make use of ‘Ye who are God’s Warriors’, a hymn that supposedly struck fear in the enemy. ‘Tábor’, named after the Hussite stronghold, depicts the Hussites’ faith and resolve. ‘Blaník’ refers to the hill under which Czech warriors are thought to sleep until rallied to save the nation under St. Wenceslaus. The cycle ends with the ‘Vyšehrad motif’.Ma vlást premiered on 5 November 1882,by which time Smetena was completely deaf and it was immediately an important national emblem that has gained worldwide appeal.
Semyon Bychkov’s tenure as Chief Conductor and Music Director of the Czech Philharmonic was initiated in 2018 with concerts in Prague, London, New York and Washington, marking the 100th anniversary of Czechoslovak independence. With the culmination of The Tchaikovsky Project the following year, Bychkov and the Czech Philharmonic turned their focus to Mahler.With a repertoire that spans four centuries, Bychkov’s highly anticipated performances are a unique combination of innate musicality and rigorous Russian pedagogy. He holds honorary titles with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and the Royal Academy of Music and is a frequent guest with all the major international orchestras. International Opera Awards named him ‘Conductor of the Year’ in 2015 and this year he will receive an Honorary Doctorate from the Royal Academy of Music.
On 1 March, Semyon Bychkov and members of the Czech Philharmonic took part in a benefit concert for Ukraine.Thirty thousand people gathered together at Prague’s Wenceslas Square and more tuned in in solidarity, donating over 180 million in CZK. “I came to this sacred place in Prague to honor the memory of 1968. Today, 54 years later history repeats itself once again. This time in Ukraine. I want to say to Vladimir Putin who doesn’t deserve to be addressed as Mr. Putin: Look at the images of Ukrainians you are killing. Look in the eyes of Russian soldiers you sent to kill and be killed. Look in the eyes of their mothers, fathers, wives and children. You will see tears, pain and hatred. The world has cried too many tears. The world has felt too much pain. The world has seen enough of hatred. You must stop destroying Ukraine. You must stop destroying Russia. Your dream of having a place in History is already achieved. You will be remembered for crimes against humanity.”
It is with a heavy heart that Semyon Bychkov has had to withdraw from his concerts this summer with the Russian Youth Orchestra. Here he explains why:”The Russian invasion of Ukraine brought unthinkable devastation and human suffering. There can be no winners whatever the outcome of this unjust and artificially created war.Under these circumstances I must withdraw from conducting the Russian Youth Orchestra in Moscow next June. This is a painful decision as I was looking forward with enormous joy to making music with the exceptionally gifted young Russian artists.Yet doing so under the present circumstances would be an unconscionable act of acquiescence.I want the spirit of this decision to be unmistakably clear: it is in no way directed at the orchestra or its public. The emotional suffering of ordinary Russian people at this time, the feeling of shame and economic losses they experience are real. So is a sense of helplessness in face of repression inflicted by the regime. Those individuals who dare to oppose this war put their own life in danger. They need us who are free to take a stand and say: ‘The guns must fall silent, so that we can celebrate life over death’.”
Silence in the face of evil becomes its accomplice and ends up becoming its equal. Russian aggression in Ukraine brings us to what my generation hoped would never happen again: War.Russia still mourns some 27 million citizens who perished at the hands of the Nazis in World War II, when Hitler delivered what he promised years earlier in Mein Kampf. How ironic that, while celebrating its victory over Nazi Germany in 1945, Russia chooses to forget its non-aggression pact with Hitler. Signed in 1939, the pact made Russia one of the co-authors of World War II; becoming one of the winners when the war ended in 1945 doesn’t acquit those who made it possible. The post-war Nüremberg Trials of leading Nazis brought atonement in German society for crimes committed against humanity, which continues to this day.What about Russia’s atonement for the genuine genocide of tens of millions of citizens killed by its own communist regime in the two decades preceding war with Germany? That was a physical genocide. And, what about the mental genocide that continued for decades after the war? The methods of the murderers and their hunger to destroy anything and anyone who refuses to obey have passed to their successors. Today they rule the country again. Born after the war, they have no concern and no interest in understanding what war brings. After all it won’t be their children who are sent to the front lines Their knowledge of history extends only to abstract geopolitical ideas of the instruments needed to acquire and keep power, whatever the cost to human life and, whatever destruction it brings. One has to be demented to refer to the collapse of the Soviet Union as the greatest tragedy of the 20th century, which is how Putin defined it, rather than rejoice at the fact that it happened without bloodshed and brought an end to the kidnapping of many nations in addition to Russia itself.If only the end of Russia being held hostage by its ruling elite weren’t temporary! One of many signs and symbols that the country has returned to pre-Perestroika times is the dissolution of the Memorial Society founded by Nobel Peace Prize winner Andrei Sakharov in 1989. Its mission was to research every single victim of repression and keep the memory of the dead alive. Through the dissolution of the Memorial on 29 December 2021 victims of repression were killed once again. This too is a form of genocide. Not in the Russian-occupied Donbas of Ukraine as Putin claims.The Russian regime wants to obliterate the memory of its victims. If we forget them we will betray them. They may no longer care about being betrayed, but we should if we don’t wish to suffer their fate. History always repeats itself if and when it is forgotten.I was born in St. Petersburg in 1952 and lived there for 22 years before emigrating to the United States. My paternal grandfather went to war and never came back. My maternal grandfather’s family members were exterminated by the Nazis in Odessa. My father fought in the war and was twice wounded. My mother survived the 900-day siege in Leningrad.Russian culture, its language, its noble traditions are in my blood. They always have been and always will be. Having gifted the world with extraordinary artistic creations and scientific discoveries realized by its sons and daughters, it pains me to see how Russia is unable or maybe unwilling to escape its dark past.Russians are capable of endless sacrifice and endurance, and truly know the meaning of friendship, generosity and compassion, some of the best qualities present in human nature. Yet those qualities are systematically destroyed by the regime that governs their life on all levels, unable to escape it for lack of mechanisms that allow for change without resorting to violence.I don’t know if Russia will discover how to live in peace with itself and the world in my lifetime. What I do know is an ancient Russian saying: ‘Words are silver, and silence is gold’. Yes. but there are moments in life when silence in the face of evil becomes its accomplice and ends up becoming its equal.
Yuja was born into a musical family in Beijing. After childhood piano studies in China, she received advanced training in Canada and at the Curtis Institute of Music under Gary Graffman. Her international breakthrough came in 2007, when she replaced Martha Argerich as soloist with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Two years later, she signed an exclusive contract with Deutsche Grammophon, and has since established her place among the world’s leading artists, with a succession of critically acclaimed performances and recordings. She was named Musical America’s Artist of the Year in 2017, and in 2021 received an Opus Klassik Award for her world-premiere recording of John Adams’ Must the Devil Have all the Good Tunes? with the Los Angeles Philharmonic under the baton of Gustavo Dudamel.
The 126 year-old Czech Philharmonic gave its first concert – an all Dvořák programme conducted by the composer himself – in the famed Rudolfinum Hall on 4 January 1896. Acknowledged for its definitive interpretations of Czech composers, the Orchestra is recognised for its special relationship to the music of Brahms, Tchaikovsky and Mahler, who conducted the world première of his Symphony No 7 with the Orchestra in 1908. Throughout the Czech Philharmonic’s history, two features have remained at its core: its championing of Czech composers and its belief in music’s power to change lives. As early as the 1920s, Václav Talich (Chief Conductor 1919–1941) pioneered concerts for workers, young people and voluntary organisations. The philosophy continues today and is equally vibrant. A comprehensive education strategy engages with more than 400 schools bringing all ages to the Rudolfinum. An inspirational music and song programme led by singer Ida Kelarová for the extensive Romany communities within the Czech Republic and Slovakia has helped many socially excluded families to find a voice. In addition to an international education exchange with the Royal Academy of Music in London, over lockdown the Orchestra gave seven benefit concerts which were live streamed internationally in 4K by Czech Philharmonic’s producing house Czech Phil Media, raising funds for hospitals, charities, and healthcare professionals. An early champion of the music of Martinů and Janáček, the works of Czech composers – both established and new – remain the lifeblood of the Orchestra. Initiated by Semyon Bychkov, nine Czech composers have been commissioned to write works for the Orchestra alongside five international composers – Detlev Glanert, Julian Anderson, Thomas Larcher, Bryce Dessner and Thierry Escaich. The Orchestra additionally holds an annual young composers’ competition launched in 2014 by Jiří Bělohlávek (Chief Conductor 2012–2017).
To remain silent today is to betray our conscience and our values, and ultimately what defines the nobility of human nature.”
Granados: ‘The Maiden and the Nightingale’ from Goyescas
Chopin: Barcarolle Op 60
Samuel Barber: Piano Sonata in Eb Minor op 26 Allegro / Allegro / Adagio / Fugue
A tour de force of playing from this the eldest member of the illustrious McLachlan clan.Now in his final year at the Mozarteum in Salzburg with Claus Tansky he has matured into an artist of stature with something important to say. A simple honest musicianship that allows the music to speak so naturally and with such impeccable good taste.Above all he has learnt the secret of how to make the piano sing whether it be from the mellifluous almost religious Bach F sharp minor fugue or the astonishing pyrotechnics of Barber written for the wizardry of Horowitz. Sang it did too in the most Schubertian of Beethovens sonatas op 90,the gateway to the final paradise that the totally deaf composer could envisage with such wonder and mystery. There were etherial sounds too in Mompou’s depiction of the serenity of the Lake or the sublime beauty of Granados’Maiden and the Nightingale.
But it was from the very first deep bass note of Chopin’s Barcarolle that we were aware that we were in the hands of a real artist. A continuous stream of beauty from the tranquil lapping of the water and simplicity of the gondoliers song leading so gently to the aristocratic passionate outbursts contained in Chopin’s most sublime creation. Of course Barber’s stark world was given with the drive and obsessive insistence more associated with Scriabin than Chopin.Played with astonishing athleticism and technical control but also a kaleidoscope of sounds that made the climax of the austere slow movement quite overwhelming in its intensity.The scherzo was a tour de force of dexterity and resilience but it was the gigantic fugue that saw Callum conquering all the notorious challenges that Barber had lain at the feet of the greatest virtuoso of all time,Vladimir Horowitz.
Callum Mclachlan was born into a family of musicians, and started lessons with his father at the age of 7, and entered Chetham’s School of Music at age 11, where he studied with Dina Parakhina. He currently studies at the Universität Mozarteum in Salzburg. He has performed at many prestigious concert venues in the UK, Europe and USA, including performing Beethoven’s 3rd Piano Concerto at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, works of Benjamin Britten in Steinway Hall London and Liszt’s 2nd Piano Concerto at RNCM Concert Hall and at the Turner Sims Concert Hall in Southampton. In 2019, he made his New York recital debut, performing works of Beethoven, Brahms and Percy Grainger. Most recently, he made a recording of Beethoven’s Pathetique Sonata in Salzburg, in collaboration with G. Henle Verlag. He has won 1st prizes in the Welsh International Piano Competition, The Youth Scottish International Piano Competition, the RNCM Chopin Competition as well as reaching the final of the EPTA Piano Competiton. He is a prize-winner of the Musical Odyssey Talent Unlimited Prize. He also receives funding from the Royal Philharmonic Society, who generously support his studies abroad.
Help Ukraine – Classical Music Concert sold out ……..uplifted and moved by music of the soul – the only remedy to help live through a world tragedy of such useless greedy devastation and suffering in the name of …………democracy!!!!!!
Russian,Belarusian and Ukrainian musicians took part in a fund raising concert for the victims of the war raging unexpectedly as it is inexplicably in the Ukraine.
A moving occasion not only of superb music making but for the testimony of artists whose families find themselves on the front line of a vicious attack by a dictator and his thugs. The concert in the Boas beautiful private concert salon sold out immediately it was announced with people wanting in some small way to show their solidarity.
Olga Paliy had posted on social media,that very morning,a photo of the stadium and library in her home city lying in ruins. She told us with such emotional relief that her parents had been able to flee and had just arrived in safety as refugees in the UK.
It was Olga who opened the concert that included two works by Ukrainian composers.A Gavotte for solo piano by Viktor Kosenko that she knew from her childhood studies in the Ukraine.She was joined in the Melody by Miroslav Skoryk with the searing passionate outpouring from Kamila Bydlowska’s violin……..
It was they that closed the evening too with the Brahms scherzo from the FAE sonata – ‘Frei Aber Einsam ’ based on the notes of a musical cryptogram ‘Free but lonely’.
It is a four-movement work by three composers: Schumann,the young Brahms and Schumann’s pupil Dietrich.It was Schumann’s idea as a gift and tribute to the violinist Joseph Joachim whom the three composers had recently befriended. Joachim had adopted the phrase “Frei aber einsam” (“free but lonely”) as his personal motto.Schumann assigned each movement to one of the composers. Dietrich wrote the substantial first movement .Schumann followed with a short Intermezzo as the second movement. The Scherzo was by Brahms and Schumann provided the finale.
But as the world has shown us in these past few weeks of conflict the people of Ukraine are not alone. Music and culture will help heal and to support the suffering while this monstrous war game takes it’s course. ‘An eye for an eye when will it ever finish’ exclaims Euripides in his tragedy Hecuba. As Ghandi added centuries later :’if we continue along this path before long the world will be inhabited by blind people’.Only culture and history will help us to understand ,learn and live together in peace ‘If Music be there food of love …..play on.’ So said the Bard That is all we can do as movingly shown last night.
But it was the words of a young Russian pianist that surprised and moved me by his soulful plea against the hatred that this conflict has unleashed in us all. ‘All we can do is pray and cry’. If a twenty year old Russian mascot virtuoso can reveal his soul in such a way there is hope ahead for a better world of peace and harmony. Let’s hope it is sooner rather than later!
All magnificently organised by the Belarusian pianist Maya Irgalina .It was her childhood friend from the Belarusian Academy of Music,Tanya Avchinnikova who donated two of her pastels for auction last night and which reached over one thousand pounds .
Tanya is the wife of Roman Korsyakov who played Mozart variations together with Sasha Grynyuk – a Russian and Ukrainian making music together whilst the bombs are flying ………a great lesson indeed from two great pianists ………..
Four thousand pounds was raised last night and the proceeds will go entirely to the Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal of The DEC,which brings together 15 leading UK aid charities to raise funds quickly and efficiently at times of crisis overseas .Anyone wishing to contribute to the Help Ukraine Fund can do so via :PayPal paypal.me/mayairgalina — please choose “Family and Friends” option,or via bank transfer: Miss M. Irgalina – Account No. 29466478 – Sort Code: 15-10-00
A STATEMENT FROM SEMYON BYCHKOV Semyon Bychkov has issued the below statement in light of the news this morning from Ukraine: “Silence in the face of evil becomes its accomplice and ends up becoming its equal. Russian aggression in Ukraine brings us to what my generation hoped would never happen again: War. Russia still mourns some 27 million citizens who perished at the hands of the Nazis in World War II, when Hitler delivered what he promised years earlier in Mein Kampf. How ironic that, while celebrating its victory over Nazi Germany in 1945, Russia chooses to forget its non-aggression pact with Hitler. Signed in 1939, the pact made Russia one of the co-authors of World War II; becoming one of the winners when the war ended in 1945 doesn’t acquit those who made it possible. The post-war Nüremberg Trials of leading Nazis brought atonement in German society for crimes committed against humanity, which continues to this day. What about Russia’s atonement for the genuine genocide of tens of millions of citizens killed by its own communist regime in the two decades preceding war with Germany? That was a physical genocide. And, what about the mental genocide that continued for decades after the war? The methods of the murderers and their hunger to destroy anything and anyone who refuses to obey have passed to their successors. Today they rule the country again. Born after the war, they have no concern and no interest in understanding what war brings. After all it won’t be their children who are sent to the front lines Their knowledge of history extends only to abstract geopolitical ideas of the instruments needed to acquire and keep power, whatever the cost to human life and, whatever destruction it brings. One has to be demented to refer to the collapse of the Soviet Union as the greatest tragedy of the 20th century, which is how Putin defined it, rather than rejoice at the fact that it happened without bloodshed and brought an end to the kidnapping of many nations in addition to Russia itself. If only the end of Russia being held hostage by its ruling elite weren’t temporary! One of many signs and symbols that the country has returned to pre-Perestroika times is the dissolution of the Memorial Society founded by Nobel Peace Prize winner Andrei Sakharov in 1989. Its mission was to research every single victim of repression and keep the memory of the dead alive. Through the dissolution of the Memorial on 29 December 2021 victims of repression were killed once again. This too is a form of genocide. Not in the Russian-occupied Donbas of Ukraine as Putin claims. The Russian regime wants to obliterate the memory of its victims. If we forget them we will betray them. They may no longer care about being betrayed, but we should if we don’t wish to suffer their fate. History always repeats itself if and when it is forgotten. I was born in St. Petersburg in 1952 and lived there for 22 years before emigrating to the United States. My paternal grandfather went to war and never came back. My maternal grandfather’s family members were exterminated by the Nazis in Odessa. My father fought in the war and was twice wounded. My mother survived the 900-day siege in Leningrad. Russian culture, its language, its noble traditions are in my blood. They always have been and always will be. Having gifted the world with extraordinary artistic creations and scientific discoveries realized by its sons and daughters, it pains me to see how Russia is unable or maybe unwilling to escape its dark past. Russians are capable of endless sacrifice and endurance, and truly know the meaning of friendship, generosity and compassion, some of the best qualities present in human nature. Yet those qualities are systematically destroyed by the regime that governs their life on all levels, unable to escape it for lack of mechanisms that allow for change without resorting to violence. I don’t know if Russia will discover how to live in peace with itself and the world in my lifetime. What I do know is an ancient Russian saying: ‘Words are silver, and silence is gold’. Yes. but there are moments in life when silence in the face of evil becomes its accomplice and ends up becoming its equal. To remain silent today is to betray our conscience and our values, and ultimately what defines the nobility of human nature.”