Victor Maslov at St Mary’s the return of a great artist;

Tuesday 31 May 3.00 pm

Victor Maslov (piano)

Godowsky: Three pieces from Java Suite:
I. Gamelan, X. In the Kraton, XII. A Court Pageant in Solo,

Rachmaninov: Sonata no 1 in D minor Op 28
Allegro / Lento / Allegro

It was a strange turn of events that allowed me to listen to Victor Maslov’s live stream recital from St Mary’s in Perivale.I had heard Victor recently give a magnificent account of the elusive first Sonata of Rachmaninov and today I had decided that I would listen to Maurizio Baglini’s star pupil Simone Librale play Debussy Preludes Book 1 and Ravel’s Gaspard de la nuit.A young pianist who I had not yet heard and had the chance to hear as he was closing the Roma 3 Orchestra series in which it’s enlightened artistic director Valerio Vicari gives a platform to many of the most talented young musicians of their generation.

Unfortunately a car crash on the notorious blood bath of a motorway that links my house to Rome caused an eight mile queue and instead of enjoying the concert I had to turn back home.Out of curiosity I thought I would listen again to Victor’s superb Rachmaninov but I was mostly stimulated by the fact that I could hear a composition by one of my youthful idols:Leopold Godowsky.My first teacher Sidney Harrison had discovered an old church in Brentford where an engineer Frank Holland despite a leaking roof and rising damp had found a home for his ever expanding collection of mechanical instruments.Sidney Harrison, the first person to give piano lessons when you would look into the television for the few hours of transmission each day.There was no choice of programme and people would tune in to see how Peter Croser or Norma Fisher were progressing.He was also a regular broadcaster on the BBC World service and had suggested Frank create a Piano Museum in Brentford open to the public.The idea of housing his collection in the Victoria and Albert Museum was not even considered as he had no intention of loosing his beloved instruments to a public institution.The BBC got wind of the collection of piano rolls that the leggendary pianists had made on the reproducing pianos of the day.Now these instruments lovingly restored by an enthusiastic and some might add eccentric engineer meant we could listen to some of the greatest names in the history of piano playing.Busoni,Lhevine,Rosenthal,Saint Saens,Rachmaninov and Leopold Godowsky.The absolute perfection of these performances were something we were not to hear until the arrival of Sviatoslav Richter in the west.It was not how loud and fast they could play but quite the contrary a supreme control that allowed them to play fast and quietly!Godowsky’s performance of Liszt’s La Leggierezza was absolutely unbelievable for its subtle whispered perfection.Later I was to hear Cherkassky live playing as an encore a Godowsky arrangement of Chopin’s study op 10 n.6 for the left hand alone.His performance of the Albeniz Tango arranged by Godowsky opened up a kaleidoscope of sounds that I never knew existed.I hunted in the London University Library for the old out of print edition of Godowsky’s 53 Studies on Chopin Etudes to try to know more about this pianistic genius.Things have changed now and there are complete recordings of these studies by Hamelin,Libetta and Grante but in the late sixties anyone who could play Rach 3 or Prok 2 was considered a piano genius at the UK music colleges.We had our nose put out of joint when Ashkenazy made his London debut playing both in the same programme!Now hands up if there is serious student who does not play them with ease?!The world of Godowsky is a subtle world of kaleidoscopic colour and I believe Moiseiwitch with his multi coloured tonal palette used to play some of the pieces from this suite .Victor played three of them:n.1 with a fluidity spread across the entire keyboard that dissolved to a curiously suggestive whisper that had produced these strangely evocative sounds.N.10 was a continuous outpouring of mellifluous sounds and the final n. 12 was played with a robust scintillating virtuosity that simply glistened.Sounds,sounds, sounds.Multi coloured,evocative and breathtaking and it was exactly this that was so remarkable about Victors playing today as though a world had been suddenly revealed adding a new dimension to his already extraordinary technical mastery.

Leopold Mordkhelovich Godowsky Sr. (13 February 1870 – 21 November 1938) was a Polish-born American virtuoso pianist, composer and teacher. He was one of the most highly regarded performers of his time,known for his theories concerning the application of relaxed weight and economy of motion within pianistic technique – principles later propagated by Godowsky’s pupils, such as Heinrich Neuhaus. In 1914 the outbreak of World War 1 drove him away from Europe and he went back to the United States, where he lived in New York (1914–16), Los Angeles (1916–19), and Seattle (1919–22), before returning to New York. Much of the 1920s was spent touring around the world; apart from concert appearances in Europe and the United States, Godowsky also gave extensive tours of South America and East Asia.However, while Godowsky’s career prospered, his personal life slowly started falling apart. His wife Frieda fell seriously ill in 1924 and her health continued deteriorating ever since. In 1928 Godowsky’s son Gordon abandoned his studies and married a vaudeville dancer, causing his father to disown him.

After the Wall Street Crash of 1929 Godowsky’s financial situation worsened. A string of recordings the pianist began in London in 1928, as well as public concerts, would have remedied the problem; however, both activities were cut short by an unexpected disaster: during a recording session on 17 June 1930, just after completing Chopin’s E major Scherzo he suffered a severe stroke which left him partially paralysed. Godowsky’s remaining years were overshadowed by the event, leaving him deeply depressed.In December 1932 Gordon Godowsky committed suicide, and a year later Godowsky’s wife died of a heart attack. The pianist eventually moved to another apartment in New York together with his daughter Dagmar; he continued playing the piano for friends and admirers, but never gave public performances.

Leopold Godowsky

He was heralded among musical giants as the “Buddha of the Piano”.Busoni claimed that he and Godowsky were “the only composers to have added anything of significance to keyboard writing since Liszt”

As a composer, Godowsky is best known for his Java Suite ,Triakontameron,Passacaglia and Walzermasken, alongside his transcriptions of works by other composers: best known work in the field is 53 Studies on Chopin Etudes (1894-1914)

Chopin /Godowsky Etude op 25 n.1

The Java Suite (originally published as Phonoramas. Tonal journeys for the pianoforte) is a suite of twelve movements for solo piano by Leopold Godowsky, composed between 1924 and 1925.It is greatly influenced by the gamelan music of Java,extensively utilizing pentatonic harmonies throughout.”Having travelled extensively in many lands, some near and familiar, others remote and strange, it occurred to me that a musical portrayal of some of the interesting things I had been privileged to see, a tonal description of the impressions and emotions they had awakened, would interest those who are attracted by adventure and picturesqueness and inspired by their poetic reactions.Who is not at heart a globe-trotter? Are we not all fascinated by distant countries and strange people? And so the thought gradually matured in me to recreate my roaming experiences. This cycle of musical travelogues-tonal journeys-which i have name collectively “Phonoramas”, begins with a series of twelve descriptive scenes in java.

Part One
1. Gamelan
2. Wayang-Purwa, Puppet Shadow Plays
3. Hari Besaar, The Great Day

Part Two
4. Chattering Monkeys at the Sacred Lake of Wendit
5. Boro Budur in Moonlight
6. The Bromo Volcano and the Sand Sea at Daybreak

Part Three
7. Three Dances
8. The Gardens of Buitenzorg
9. In the Streets of Old Batavia

Part Four
10. In the Kraton
11. The Ruined Water Castle at Djokja
12. A Court Pageant in Solo

Victor’s performance I have written about recently that he gave at St James’s Piccadilly.

Of course like all artists of Victors stature it has become even more full of subtle colour and meaning.From the hauntingly beautiful first movement and the glistening delicacy of the Lento to the overwhelming grandeur of the Allegro molto.All held together with an overall understanding of the architectural shape that made this performance as persuasive as one of the very first recordings:that of John Ogdon,or the very recent performance by Alexandre Kantarow.Both winners of the Tchaikowsky competition in Moscow but with a distance of fifty years between them.Now Victor Maslow has come onto the scene with this superb performance.A recent top prize winner in the Dubai/Malta International Piano Competition,together with the winner of the Tchaikowsky Competition,he is in many ways a local’ lad’.

His studies with a long term resident of Ealing ,Dmitri Alexeev and a recipient of an award from the Eileen Rowe Musical Trust,together with his many performances here at St Mary’s are surely proof enough of authenticity.Ealing can be justly proud!

In November 1906, Rachmaninov,with his wife and daughter, moved to Dresden primarily to compose a second symphony to diffuse the critical failure of his first symphony,but also to escape the distractions of Moscow. There they lived a quiet life, as he wrote in a letter, “We live here like hermits: we see nobody, we know nobody, and we go nowhere. I work a great deal,”but even without distraction he had considerable difficulty in composing his first piano sonata, especially concerning its form.The original idea for it was to be a sonata based on the main characters of Goethe’s Faust.Faust , Gretchen, and Mephistopheles and indeed it nearly parallels Liszt’s own Faust Symphony which is made of three movements which reflect those characters.However, the idea was abandoned shortly after composition began, although the theme is still clear in the final version.After numerous revisions and substantial cuts made at the advice of his colleagues, he completed it on April 11, 1908. Konstantin Igumnov gave the premiere in Moscow on October 17, 1908. It received a lukewarm response there, and remains one of the least performed of Rachmaninoff’s works.

Russian pianist Victor Maslov graduated in 2021 from the Royal College of Music, London, having completed his Artist Diploma, and was the recipient of the Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Rose Bowl for his outstanding achievements at the RCM. Throughout his studies, Victor has been grateful for the support of the Ruth West Scholarship, the Eileen Rowe Musical Trust Award, the Future of Russia Scholarship, the Munster Trust Award, and the Talent Unlimited. He previously studied at the Gnessin Moscow Special School of Music, where he was taught by his mother Olga Maslova. He has been a prizewinner in several international competitions. After winning the AntwerPiano International Competition in 2020, he was invited to take part in the 2021 Classic Piano International Competition in Dubai and received the Second Prize. Further successes include winning the First Prize at the 2nd International Rachmaninoff Piano Competition (Moscow 2020), being Overall Prize Winner of the 47th Concertino Praga International Radio Competition for Young Musicians (2013), two-time winner of Concerto Competition (Royal College of Music, 2015, 2018), winning the First Prize at the Musicale dell’Adriatico piano competition (Ancona 2007), and the First Prize at the Nikolai Rubinstein International Piano Competition (Paris 2004). He gave his concerto debut at the age of nine with the State Symphony Orchestra of Moscow and has since performed with orchestras such as RCM Symphony, RCM Philharmonic and given solo performances at international music festivals across the UK, Europe and the USA.

fellow concert pianists Petar Dimov,Damir Duramovic,Andrzej Wiercinski all braving the elements to be present for these remarkable performances by a friend and esteemed colleague :

Godowsky: Java Suite

by Georg Predota  August 8th, 2018 

Java Suite

Leopold Godowsky

The legendary pianist, composer, and pedagogue Leopold Godowsky was a world traveller. He considered “travel not only a way of lifting the creative intellect, but also a philosophical, spiritual enterprise, a way of advancing one’s journey of self-discovery.” Drawing inspiration from his exotic encounters, “it occurred to me,” he writes, “that a musical portrayal of some of the interesting things I had been privileged to see, a tonal description of the impressions and emotions they had awakened, would interest those who are attracted by adventure and picturesqueness and inspired by their poetic reactions.” After Godowsky returned from a 2-month tour of South America in 1922, he quickly sailed for the Far East. Departing Vancouver on 13 October 1922, he left for Yokohama and described his impressions of Japan, “The people here love music and are making great progress in the appreciation and understanding of good music; in a short time this country will be a Mecca for artists. Japanese are quick to grasp and understand. By February 1823, Godowsky had reached China and writes, “Guangzhou is the most unusual place I have ever seen in the Orient…Beijing is the most interesting city in China, a city of marvels… Hong Kong the most beautiful.” But it was the island of Java that fascinated him the most.

The Java Suite
Godowsky stayed in Java for the better part of 4 weeks and gave at least twenty recitals. Despite his heavy performing schedule he eagerly explored local culture, music, and people. And he visited various places and landmarks that would become the basis for the Java Suite. Initially, Godowsky intended to compose “finishing selections for piano recital programs that consist of themes and tunes of different races and parts of the world. My plan is,” he writes, “to make picturesque, characteristic and fanciful works based on folk tunes and dances of exotic countries: Java, Japan, China, India, Turkey and perhaps one Jewish and one Negro piece.” However, the scenic beauty and rich cultural atmosphere of Java soon focused his creative efforts and “the thought gradually matured in me to recreate my roaming experiences in a cycle of musical travelogues—tonal journeys—which I have named collectively “Phonoramas,” beginning with a series of twelve descriptive scenes in Java.”

Godowsky published his Java Suite in 1925, and in the preface he describes his inspirations. “The Island of Java, called ‘The Garden of the East,’ with a population of close to forty million, is the most densely inhabited island in the world. It has a tropical, luxuriant vegetation; marvelous scenery and picturesque inhabitants; huge volcanoes, active and extinct; majestic ruins and imposing monuments of many centuries past…It was, however, the native music of the Javanese, in the heart of Java, at Djokja and Solo that made the most profound impression on me.” Eight of the twelve pieces are associated with a specific city, place, monument or landmark (Sacred lake of Wendit, Boro Buudur, the Bromo Volcano, gardens of Buitenzorg, streets in Old Batavia, in the Kraton, the ruined water castle at Djokja and the city of Solo). The remaining four pieces (Gamelan, Wayng Purwa, Hari Bessar and Three Dances) relate more generally to his musical and cultural impressions during his journey. 

Mount Bromo

Mount Bromo 

A substantial number of composers in the early 20th century were influenced by the sound of gamelan music, but it was Godowsky who actually experienced it first hand. “The sonority of the Gamelan is so weird, spectral, fantastic and bewitching, the native music so elusive, vague, shimmering and singular, that on listening to this new world of sound I lost my sense of reality, imagining myself in a realm of enchantment.” Godowsky aimed to express his impressions “in the native music-idiom as I understood it, I have neither borrowed nor imitated actual Javanese tunes, designs or harmonies in any of the movement excepting the third, where I use two fragments of authentic Javanese melodies.” By fusing Javanese elements with Western compositional procedures Godowsky created a unique and highly personal tonal journey.

Ivelina Krasteva for the Keyboard Trust Simplicity and beauty of a thinking artist

Sir Anthonio Pappano

The Keyboard Charitable Trust presents
IVELINA KRASTEVA Recorded at St Matthew’s Church, Ealing
and now available to view on our YouTube channel

Beethoven Sonata No. 30, Op. 109
Chopin Sonata No. 2, Op. 35
Scriabin Fantasy Op. 28

Some remarkable performances of three masterworks for the piano.Not only musicianly as you would expect from her studies with Ronan O’Hora and Katya Apekisheva.There was also the beauty of sound and her total concentration of passionate involvement.I had heard her impeccable Beethoven op 109 in a recital last year streamed live from that mecca for aspiring young musicians in Ealing.There must be something about the air in Ealing where musicians flock so readily.Until recently Murray Perahia was resident as is actually Dmitri Alexeev.When I was a student there used to be the indomitable Eileen Rowe in Ealing who dedicated her life to helping young musicians.Filling every room in her house with pianos where she would teach children getting remarkable results in the Associated Board Graded exams as she imbued them with her selfless passion with her superb teaching skills.We struggling students used to help her one day a week and be rewarded with a wonderful roast lunch with vegetables grown from her own garden!Katherine Stott ,Daniel Salamon,Tessa Nicholson,Vanessa Latarche were all part of this musical oasis.Sidney Harrison and Christopher Elton would readily judge her festivals.Her house was eventually sold when she died but the proceeds have gone to create a Trust for young Ealing based musicians.It is run by her star pupil Vanessa Latarche,Head of Piano at the Royal College of Music,and Dr Hugh Mather whose own children all fell under the spell of Eileen Rowe.Dr Mather has over the past years created a Mecca and oasis for young aspiring musicians .A redundant church ,St Mary’s Perivale/Ealing, where he and his colleagues,retired experts from the BBC,have added superb recording equipment to allow streaming world wide of their concerts.In the pandemic the Keyboard Trust too has had to invent an incentive both financial and spiritual for the young musicians it has under its wing.The KCT for thirty years has helped young musicians to bridge the gap between finishing their advanced studies and starting a career in music.Without any public performances streamed concerts was a solution that helped bridge the gap whilst the pandemic ran its terrible course.Thanks to the generosity of St Matthews church music director Richard Thomas we were able to add some more streamed concerts to our yearly limit of six that are generously offered by Steinway Hall in London.Public concerts are gradually returning and we are all thirsty for live performances and we hope that the tours that the KCT offer will shortly start again as the world slowly recovers from this dramatic period.Ivelina in her interesting post recital discussion with one of the artistic directors of the KCT explains what a special thing it is to be able to feel a live audience that is living the music with you and creating a two way give and take that is the very raison d’etre of live performances.

Beautiful fluidity and scrupulous attention to Beethoven’s very precise indications were the hallmarks of her musicianly interpretation.Her continuous gentle rounded movements were an ever present undercurrent that made all her sounds so natural and without any exaggeration.Even the rhetorical ‘Adagio espressivo ‘ interruptions were played with authority where the markings that abound of ‘f’ ‘p’ ‘crescendo’’espressivo’’ritardando ‘all had their just place as they took us to the mellifluous fluidity of Beethoven’s ‘vivace ,ma non troppo.The prestissimo of the second movement burst onto the scene with great rhythmic drive where even the most intricate contrapuntal passages were played with clarity and technical assurance like a great wind that was to take us from one oasis to another ,The Andante molto cantabile ed espressivo was given the enviable weight of a string quartet where without hardness each strand unites to create a miraculous whole.Even the first variation was give the same importance where in lesser hands it can seem like a slow waltz instead of a most profound enrichment of the theme.The contrast with the ‘leggiermente’ of the second variation was exhilarating like a gentle breeze blowing into this almost too serious scene.The contrasting legato episodes were played with sumptuous sounds and great control as the counterpoints seem to overlap with trills that were like gentle vibrations pointing the way.There was startling technical assurance in the burst of energy in the Allegro vivace of the third variation which made it’s dissolving into a variation of moving sands both intense and of ravishing beauty.There was absolute clarity in the authority she gave to the fifth variation as it wend its contrapuntal way to the pure magic of the sixth.Here the beauty and passionate outpourings were floated on a continuous stream of sounds with extraordinary control and sense of poetry A magic world that had opened up in Beethoven’s head and had taken us to this imaginary place where the peace and beauty he had been looking for he had finally found in this trilogy.The statement of the theme at the end was played with ravishing sound and great sensibility as it drew to the final moments of silence and peace.
The Sonata in B flat minor is one of the great works of Chopin.A real pinnacle amongst his compositions where he was able to unite the classical sonata form with all the freedom of his poetic soul.The first movement needs a great artist to be able to hold the architectural shape whilst not sacrificing the beauty of Chopin’s invention.The opening Grave was like a opening flourish before the real beginning at the ‘ doppio movimento’.It is true that Chopin’s compositional mastery was later to use this opening flourish in the bass in the development section but I am glad to see that the conjecture about whether to repeat the ‘grave’ in the ritornello was so simply and convincingly resolved by Ivelina today.Some very fine playing of this agitato with Chopin’s accents just given the weight intended to push the music forward towards the beautiful second subject.Here is marked ‘ sostenuto’ and so often this is a signal to change the tempo which undermines the very structure of this movement.Ivelina played it with great sensitivity and beauty with just a very slight easing of tension rather than changing the tempo.There was extraordinary technical control as the passion was allowed to rise but it was this continual forward movement that allowed her to give great architectural shape to this extraordinary movement .The Scherzo was played with remarkable technical prowess and control together with aristocratic grandeur as after the final octave statement the movement dissolves into a ‘più lento’of great beauty which Ivelina played with sentiment but never sentimentally where the beauty of sound was in startling contrast with the outer sections.The Marche Funèbre was played with exemplary weight and control and the stillness and ravishing beauty of the trio was memorable.The finale has been likened to the wind blowing over the graves and it was indeed a magnificent gust of notes that Ivelina shaped maybe a little too discreetly.There are no indications of a melodic thread to this movement but I feel there could be a a slight hint to give it more shape and form.It was magnificently played and mine is only a personal view.Ivelina’s was the view that Chopin had left on the page and like the scrupulous musician she is it was the composers indications that were her ultimate guiding light.
The Scriabin Fantasy is so often a barn storming show piece.In Ivelina’s hands it became a passionate outpouring but also a very intimate confession of sumptuously beautiful sounds of such fluidity and purity.There was delicacy and passion.An outpouring of romantic sounds in this early work where Scriabin’s mastery of the piano and its texture were to be transformed in his later years into something much more mystical.

Ivelina Krasteva was born in 1998 in Plovdiv, Bulgaria. She started to play the piano at the age of 4. Two years later she got accepted in the National School of Music and Dance in Plovdiv, where she studied with Elena Velcheva until her graduation with distinction in 2017. Currently, Ivelina is acquiring her undergraduate degree studying as a HWE and WL Tovery Scholar with Ronan O’Hora and Katya Apekisheva at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London.
Ivelina has received numerous awards from international competitions such as first prize and a livestreamed recital on Radio Plovdiv from the International Piano Competition “Schumann-Brahms” in Plovdiv, Bulgaria; third prize at the Pera Piano Competition in Istanbul, Turkey; second prize at The Golden Keys Piano Competition; third prize at International competition “Wiener Pianisten”, Vienna, Austria; and others. In addition to her studies, she has worked with internationally acclaimed musicians, such as Itamar Golan, Boris Petrushansky, Paul Roberts, Charles Owen, Noriko Ogawa, Stephan Moeller among others.
As a dedicated chamber musician, Ivelina has worked in various ensembles and has been a prize winner in numerous competitions such as the First prize at the International Music Competition in Belgrade, Serbia, category “Chamber music”, as a part of a piano trio, 2016. She has received tuition from the Endellion Quartet, the Gould Piano Trio, Carole Presland, Caroline Palmer, Adrian Brendel, Ralf Gothoni, Levon Chilingirian.
Ivelina has given concerts both as a solo pianist and with orchestra. She has performed in several countries – Bulgaria, Turkey, Austria, Romania, Italy and the UK. Highlights include a performance of Prokofiev’s First Piano Concerto with the Plovdiv Philharmonic Orchestra and Mozart’s 24th Piano Concerto with the Vratsa State Orchestra. Days before the UK lockdown Ivelina won the Coulsdon and Purley Concerto Competition, which will result in her concerto debut in the UK in the next season, performing Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto no.3 with the Worthing Philharmonic Orchestra under Dominic Grier.
Throughout her education, she has been supported with scholarships from the Bulgarian Ministry of Culture, the “Prof. Lyuba Encheva” Foundation and the Henry Wood Accommodation Trust.

Please help us to continue supporting young artists like Ivelina by considering to make a donation to the Keyboard Trust. Every penny will be used to help these outstanding musicians.Here is the link should you wish to make a donation.

Keyboard Charitable Trust for Young Professional Performers
30th Anniversary Year
Patron: Sir Antonio Pappano

Axel Trolese illuminates Liszt’s Erard with supreme artistry and passion in Velletri’s Convento del Carmine

Giancarlo Tammaro with Axel Trolese

On Sunday mornings in the beautiful sixteenth century Del Carmine convent in Velletri we are treated to a series of concerts by superb young musicians who have been selected by Ing Giancarlo Tammaro to bring life to the Erard of 1879 that Liszt would have played whilst on his many visits to the Villa d’Este and the Castelli Romani.

Lovingly restored to its original splendour and heard in a series that was initiated in 2011 in the Villa d’Este for the two hundredth anniversary of the birth of Franz Liszt.The series is now in its tenth year and is housed in the magnificent concert hall created within this historic monument.

I had first come across it in the seventh edition in 2019 in the Villa Mondragone in Frascati when Ivan Donchev had given a remarkable performance of the Liszt transcription of the Symphonie Fantastique by Berlioz.

Today I was curious to hear a young pianist who I have heard many times over the last few years ,Axel Trolese,in a concert announced as a celebration of Liszt’s Spanish student Isaac Albeniz .Born on the 29th May 1860 today would have been his 162nd birthday.There is no direct evidence that Albeniz studied with Liszt but Ing.Tammaro put forward a very persuasive case for it even without any direct evidence.

Two books from the four that make up the suite Iberia are on Axel’s new CD which has already received high critical acclaim.Axel a local’ lad’ from the nearby town of Genzano ‘the city of flowers’,brings his quite considerable artistry home after his studies with Louis Lortie,Benedetto Lupo,Maurizio Baglini have taken him from Rome,Paris,Belgium and Cremona to where he now resides near Padua.So it was a double celebration for his friends and family to be able to appreciate his great artistry after years of study.Still only 25 he has a good part of a century before him!

It was obvious that a work by Liszt was ‘de rigueur’ and Axel had chosen one of the most beautiful but sadly much neglected works ,a miniature tone poem from his series of ten works under the title ‘Harmonies Poétiques et Religieuses’. ‘Benediction de Dieu dans La solitude ‘ is prefaced by a poem of Alphonse de Lamartine : ‘D’où me vient,o mon Dieu,cette paix qui m’inonde?D’où me vient cette foi dont mon coeur surabonde,A moi qui tout à l’heure,incertain,agité,Et sur les flots du doute à tout vent ballotté,Cherchais le bien,le vrai,dans les reves des sages’.It is a deeply expressive work and needs a great artist to bring it to life.I have never forgotten the early Turnabout recordings of Beethoven and Liszt by a young Alfred Brendel – just 50 pence for landmark interpretations that we students used to devour played by an almost unknown Brendel .His Liszt Sonata,Norma Fantasie and this Benediction have remained as a major influence on my taste buds as has the historic recording of Wilhelm Kempff playing the Two Legends.This was not the barn storming Liszt ,a vehicle for shallow virtuosity,but was playing of a real interpreter who could delve much deeper into the score and find so much more than a superficial glitter.

Axel has recently been accepted to be part of the Keyboard Charitable Trust is another of their members,Ivan Krpan,that during the long period of silence ,imposed by the pandemic,had made a specific study of the ten Harmonies poétiques et Religieuses that I am happy to include here :

A very mellow sound was the first impression of this very handsome looking instrument.It was a world where there was an overall limit to the sound within which the music evolved.I was not immediately convinced as I have been used to a luminosity of sound and a sense of balance between the hands that makes a great differentiation between the deeply expressive opening with is tenor melody of such simple beauty that Liszt marks ‘ cantando sempre’ and the gentle fluidity of the accompaniment ‘sempre piano ed armonioso’.But after the initial surprise there was a sense of harmonic well being especially when the melody was played with the beauty and subtle phrasing that this young man seduced us with.I found myself imagining the same effect as with Liszt’s other great tone poem the Vallée d’Obermann.Gradually as the melodic line passed to the treble things became much clearer and the piercing luminosity of the melodic line over a richly harmonic background was quite a revelation.The gradual build up in intensity too was so clear as the line was never allowed to be overwhelmed by the brute force that so often modern pianos can accommodate.Here there was an upper and lower limit to the sound within which the music was allowed to evolve.

So often these days especially with the Russian school of playing we get infinite gradations of tone between pianissimo and mezzo forte and then a big gap to the forte and fortissimo.The great sense of line is sacrificed for a research of refined sounds on one side and a overpowering exhibition of force on the other.This was the great lesson today in that these inexplicable differences of the spectrum are just not possible on a single strung instrument of this period.Axel is a very fine musician and the sense of line that he was able to follow was so clear as he passed from a whispered opening of ravishing beauty to a glorious exultation of liquid mellifluous sounds.Liszt’s notation of a long alto melody shadowed by arpeggiated chords immediately became so apparent and Axel with his poetic soul was able to take us to a world of sublime beauty that one would not be aware of just looking at the printed score.The gentle return of the opening melody too immediately took on another aspect as it finished pianississimo -perdendo -disappearing into the heights.The Andante second episode was played with religious fervour and simple exhilaration but with a tone that was of a purity and clarity but at the same time could never be hard or ungrateful.The cascades of shimmering notes created sounds of seamless beauty and the final page – like in his great B minor Sonata was a culmination of all that had gone before.These final thoughts are only brought to life by an artist who has the sensibility and supreme technical command of sound to be able to interprete Liszt’s many,many minute indications. Axel created a rarified atmosphere to the final benediction commented on by the simple exhilaration of the Andante that in turn was to be answered by organ like chords of deeply felt meaning.They were played with the great weight that only a true artist can find – a simplicity pregnant with meaning placed on the page by a true believer.

A revelation too was the much maligned first Ballade op 23 by Chopin.Marked Largo and pesante how many times we have heard this noble opening played like the 1812 overture?The mellowness of Chopin’s ‘pesante’ immediately made sense as it dissolved into the beauty of the melodic line of the ‘moderato’ that it prepares us for,calling us to attention as it’s great tale unfolds.It was indeed the sound or magic of this instrument in Axel’s sensitive hands that opened a fantasy world of great poetic meaning and Chopin’s outpouring of emotions became immediately apparent.Even the ‘ sempre più mosso’ were just cascades of notes and a culmination of the intensity of the melodic line.There was ravishing beauty in the ‘meno mosso’ where the B flat on high was like a magic bell chiming above the beauty that had been created by the gentle weaving of Chopin’s melodic line.The fortissimo climax was a culmination of the gradual build up that had preceded it and led in turn to the unwinding of tension and the scintillating playful jeux perlé that Axel played with such technical brilliance and mastery.And mastery there was too in a coda of overwhelming technical control and exhilaration.Axel unleashed an avalanche of exhilarating sounds where two great final waves of sound were answered by quiet chords and dramatic statements ( here I would question the rather literal marcato on the final note even though it appears on the page which sound like a hiccup! ) .Cascades of octaves always kept in line by the limit of the instrument that gave such a clear sense of line to the final two chords place with the authority and care of a master after such an overwhelming exhibition of transcendental virtuosity.

What can I say of the Spanish music in the programme.Alicia de Larrocha used to play Iberia in my concert series with a simplicity and beauty of sound.A ravishing sense of colour and the same care of minute details in the score as meticulously observed as with Beethoven,Mozart or Haydn.Axel has approached these scores with the same humility and intelligence and gave performances of the first three pieces of Iberia where each one was a tone poem of overwhelming character and atmosphere.Evocacion in particular took on another meaning on this piano with its mellow ‘Cinema Paradiso’ sound of such wistful nostalgia and sultry desolance.There was piercing sunlight in El Puerto with the rhythmic energy and excitement from the very first notes.He even appeared to be clicking his heels at one point.We would often come out of a de Larrocha recital clicking out heels and stamping our feet such was the infections rhythmic elan that Axel too imbued in this extraordinarily evocative music.Fete Dieu a Seville is the best known of these three and I will never forget a young Spaniard Rafael Orozco running off with first prize at Leeds with his unforgettable performances where his Spanish blood was allowed full reign.He would often take Alicia de Larrocha out for a spin after her performances in Rome .Annie Fischer used to ask me what happened to that young hot blooded Spaniard who had so impressed her when she was a jury member in Leeds.Sir William Glock had a much more measured approach as head of the British Broadcasting Corporation and chairman of the jury and cast his vote to a wonderful sultry looking Russian,Victoria Postnikova.Rafael died much too young and should today be remembered for his extraordinary recorded legacy.If Axel did not quite have that amazing flair that is in the Spanish genes he has a unique sense of colour and fearless technical prowess that could allow him to play the great melody in the ‘El Corpus Christi en Sevilla’ whilst all the bells were ringing out with joyous sounds of transcendental technical difficulty.

The three Danzas fantàsticas op 22 by Turina were played with the same sense of colour and exhilaration.The pungent sounds and rhythmic drive of Exaltaciòn were answered by the questioning opening of Ensueno and the dynamic energy of Orgia.Much less interesting than Albeniz and I see on his CD of both books of Iberia he has added works by two other Spanish composers De Falla and Mompou.A fascinating panorama of Spanish music from this young artist of great intellectual curiosity with a choice of repertoire that is indeed refreshing to hear.

Axel receiving a gold medal from Ing Tammaro

It was back to Albeniz though for the encore ‘Granada’ where he had poured forth his emotions in works from the Romantic repertoire, and concluded with improvisations that might well have contained the thematic seeds that later sprouted into his Granada.It is the opening piece from his 1886 work Suite Española No. 1 premiered by the composer on 24 January 1886,since transcribed for guitar by Miguel Llobet.It has become one of most important works of the classical guitar repertoire and I well remember a very old Segovia playing it in what was to be his last recital in London.Axel gave a ravishing performance full of colour and nostalgia and it prolonged the magic for a few minutes more, that he had created during his morning recital a stones throw from where Axel was born!

The distinguished pianist Marylene Mouquet congratulating Axel
On stage congratulations and discussions around the magnificent Erard 1879

On the seat outside the Convent ….. beware all ‘pianists’that trespass

Lorenzo Bagnati a romantic virtuoso at Roma 3

Another fine pianist to add to the remarkable series in which Valerio Vicari is giving an important stage in Rome.A space for young musicians where they can demonstrate their remarkable talent with a series of recitals in the Aula Magna of Roma 3 or in the historic Teatro di Villa Torlonia.
There is a school of piano playing in Italy that is revealing itself to be quite unique.Roma 3 is underlining this thanks to Roberto Pujia ,President and his ex student Valerio Vicari ,Artistic director.Also to the Vice President Piero Rattalino,who has spent a lifetime dedicated to the study of pianos and pianists past and present .A formidable team indeed!Pianists in Italy now with the essential early training that we used to think they could only receive in the East.

Valerio Vicari with Lorenzo Bagnati

I was very interested to hear Lorenzo Bagnati today especially as he is studying with the remarkable Epifanio Comis in Catania.
We had already heard another of his remarkable students this season: Giovanni Bertolazzi who with his performance of the two Liszt Sonatas in Villa Torlonia revealed himself to be a great artist on the crest of an important career.
So I was enticed by an unusually interesting programme today to the Aula Magna of Roma 3 orchestra.

Starting with the beautiful Vallée d’Obermann that since Horowitz’s performances in the 70s has been accepted more readily into the piano repertoire (together with the Rachmaninov second sonata that since that astonishing Horowitz performance in his same Indian summer has now become even over exposed!)
There was great beauty from the very first notes of the haunting opening of this remarkable tone poem from Liszt’s years of pilgrimage.
Vallée d’Obermann is a large-scale character piece of Années de Pèlerinage : Suisse.It was published in 1842 and inspired by the landscape and literary works that Liszt and Countess Marie d’Agoult read whilst travelling to Switzerland. Its musical content is closely related to the novel Obermann by French writer Étienne Pivert de Senancour. Liszt quoted the Letter 63 from the novel as the preface of Vallée d’Obermann.
A letter with the great question of the romantic era :’What do I want?what am I?what may I demand of nature ?All cause is invisible ,all effect misleading ;every form changes ,all time runs it’s course ….I feel ,I exist only to exhaust myself in untameable desires,to drink deep of the allurement of a fantastic world,only to be finally vanquished by its sensuous illusion ‘

From the beauty of the tenor melody Lorenzo passed to the haunting reply in the treble of subtle crystalline purity.The great recitativo that follows showed off all the technical command of this young virtuoso but soon dissolved into the heart rending ‘Lento’ that Liszt develops via a crescendo of ever more transcendentally demanding outpourings of romantic fervour.
Octaves thrown off with astonishing ease by this young poet but not always with the sumptuous full sound of Philadelphian richness and grandeur that is the culmination of this passionate fervour as he brought this great tone poem to an exhilarating end with its rhetorical final gasping statement.

Lorenzo’s passionate romantic soul must now try to shape the sounds like a sculptor rather than a pianist.The shape of the hand and arm should be in harmony with the music he is passionately extolling.A young man with a fearless technical command who needs now to sit back and listen to the great canvas he is so passionately depicting – a hard lesson that will come as his interpretations gain in maturity.
His performance of the Mephisto waltz n.1 was programmed remarkably at the beginning of his recital and again showed off his passionate romantic temperament and fearless technical command but sacrificing the sumptuously rich sonority of a really ‘Grand’ piano.
Of course the magnificent Fazioli that had been especially hired for this series of concerts is well known for its bright clear sounds that suit so well the baroque keyboard works and the subtle counterpoints of Chopin.
But as Louis Lortie publically exclaimed,after performances of the Brahms F minor and Schubert G major Sonatas on a Bosendorfer piano in London.The great Romantic works of Brahms,Schubert or Liszt one can only really find their rich velvet soul on a German piano of great pedigree rather than on the too honest Fazioli sound.That was very sincerely expressed in the programme in London explaining why a Fazioli artist played Brahms snd Schubert on a Bosendorfer piano in the first half and Chopin on Fazioli in the second !
Giovanni Bertolazzi with his immovable artistic integrity insisted on a Steinway D for his remarkably beautiful Liszt performances even offering to pay for the piano himself but like Lortie could not compromise his artistic integrity.
Richter on the other hand used to enjoy the voyage of discovery into the heart of any piano that was placed before him!
But Richter was indeed an Enigma as he toured the world in his last years with a Yamaha piano!

The choice of two works by Ravel opened up another world of sounds.Jeux d’eau and Ondine from Gaspard de La Nuit are full of the liquid sounds of water that Lorenzo allowed to flow from his fingers with such ease.The luminous beauty of Jeux d’eau led to final magical sounds where the melodic line floats on cascades of delicate filigree notes .They were the same sounds that the water nymph ‘Ondine’ was to find as she weaved her way so magically in and out of the sprays of water in the delicate springs.Building to a climax of transcendental technical difficulty where Lorenzo even allowed the melodic line to resound clearly but still with overwhelming passion.Dying away to a mere whisper as the nymph says her delicate farewell that Ravel marks to be bathed in pedal.It was interesting to note how Lorenzo held the deeps bass D whilst he allowed Ondine her final delicate farewell without being submerged.Suddenly overwhelmed by an avalanche of water in a cadenza of astonishing bravura and as the waters calmed Ravel indicates the now ‘pianississimo’ waves are to be played ‘bien égal de sonorité’ and ‘sans ralentir’.The water continues disappearing on high like at the end of ‘Jeux d’eau’ just waiting for an artist like Lorenzo to bring Ravels magic water world into focus again.

Prokofiev’s early second sonata is rarely heard these days in the concert hall replaced as these early works are by the later ‘War’ sonatas.It was refreshing to hear the energy and rhythmic elan this young man brought to the four movements.There was a kaleidoscope of ravishing colours too and if his temperament sometimes overwhelmed the sound it was his fearless youthful exuberance that brought this work vividly to life.In his enthusiasm he sometimes exchanged clarity for a more overall excitement and a little less pedal would have shown us the remarkable technical assurance of Prokofiev the young virtuoso.

However it brought the concert to an exhilarating end with my neighbour ready to give him full marks on the voting card that the season ticket public are encouraged to complete.The audience winner will be rewarded with a chance to play with Roma 3’s splendid Orchestra that Valerio has insisted on for the past 16 years.The Orchestra of Roma 3 give young music graduates a chance to have orchestral experience for their future careers in music.

By great request Lorenzo gave us two eclectic encores that had me baffled until I did a bit of research.A sumptuous performance of a piece from Ravel’s early suite of four short pieces ‘a la manière de….’.In the manner of Chabrier is subtitled “ paraphrase on an air of Gounod”. It is indeed a paraphrase of a paraphrase , the pastiche of a Chabrier who himself would pastiche Gounod ,the aria being the romance of Siébel, from the second act of Faust.Written in 1913 and first performed in Paris at the Salle Pleyel by Alfredo Casella.It was Casella who had persuaded Ravel to follow in the footsteps of his own 1911 suite of six pieces .Casella had chosen:Wagner,Fauré,Brahms,Debussy,Strauss and Franck.Ravel on the other hand had chosen:Chabrier,Borodin,D’Indy and Ravel!A performance by Lorenzo of ravishing colours and subtle embellishments where his great romantic temperament had been held at bay as he listened so attentively to the beauty that was pouring from his delicate fingers.

Discussing the encore that Valerio had recognised as being from Gounod’s Faust

The second encore was ‘Notturno’ the third piece from Sei pezzi per pianoforte (“Six pieces for piano”)written by Ottorino Respighi between 1903 and 1905. It is the most popular of the set and represents one of Respighi’s finest piano compositions.It is an eclectic work that has been described as “an exercise in musical moonlight and shadow”,and as having a distinctly Rachmaninovian style.Again some beautifully sensitive playing this time with the help of an ‘I pad’ which he only barely glanced at as he listened so carefully to the ravishing sounds.

A fascinating finish to a real voyage of discovery from this young romantic thinking musician .

Andrzej Wiercinski at St Mary’s the making of a great artist

Friday 27 May 7.30 pm

With this special evening concert I was unable to watch live but I was able to hear enough of the fourth ballade on my phone to realise that the young pianist I have heard many times in Perivale, also streamed from Poland has matured into an artist of quite considerable stature.I even confused him with his look alike brother ,Krzysztof,also a very talented pianist streamed from Warsaw : Unfortunately in Italy we are an hour ahead of the UK so an 8.30 start coincides with so many other family activities but I had heard enough to whet my appetite to be able to listen just a few hours later.

There was a great sense of style and ravishing colours in Paderewski’s much neglected Nocturne from his set of pieces op 16.It was immediately apparent his authority and personality as he shaped this simple piece with such flexibility and a ravishing sense of colour and style.It was this that was to be the hallmark of all he did during the recital as he imbued each work with such character finding subtle colours within the counterpoints that he just allowed to glow for a moment without disturbing the overall flow of the music.It is interesting to note that Paderewski was born to Polish parents in the village of Kuryłówka that is now part of the Khmilnyk raion of Vinnytsia Oblast in Ukraine.After three years of study with Leschetizky Paderewski made his concert debut in Vienna in 1887 and soon gained great popularity in Paris in 1889 and in London in 1890.Audiences responded to his brilliant playing with almost extravagant displays of admiration, and Paderewski also gained access to the halls of power.In 1891, Paderewski repeated his triumphs on an American tour where he toured more than 30 times for the next five decades, and it would become his second home.In 1919, in the newly independent Poland, Paderewski was appointed Prime Minister of Poland and the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Poland (January 1919 – December 1919). He and Dmowski represented Poland at the 1919 Paris Peace Conference and dealt with issues regarding territorial claims and minority rights.He signed the Treaty of Versailles which recognized Polish independence won after World War I.This beautiful piece is the fourth in his set of seven pieces op 16 that he would obviously have used on his concert tours.It was published in 1892 in New York.

The fourth Ballade by Chopin, together with the Schumann Fantasie and Liszt B minor Sonata, is considered to be the pinnacle of the Romantic repertoire.Andrzej from the very opening with his sense of freedom and style illuminated the introduction with some magical colouring.It was this flexibility and great personality that illuminated this work as only a great artist can do.A personality that allows the music to speak without interrupting or disturbing what the composer had actually written on the page.It was a true lesson of how a work can be brought to life and bring such new meaning to a well worn classic.Today Andrzej brought this work vividly to life as he allowed the music to flow with such ease and naturalness.There was great power too as he brought the music to its climax adding just a very subtle bass D flat at the beginning of the tumultuous build up.The coda too was given great shape with a technical authority that allowed him to mould this often maltreated coda into the exciting culmination of one of Chopin’s greatest journeys.There was great beauty in the first variation where the melodic line can so often be submerged by the ever more insistent counterpoints as it builds up to the first full climax.It was a climax though that was but a short stop on the long journey that Andrzej could see so clearly.It was but a bridge to the second subject that was played with beauty and a ravishing sense of balance as it brought us to the return of the opening introduction ‘avec un sentiment de regret’ according to Cortot.It was the same vision that Andrzej showed us with the magical cadenza before the almost Bachian counterpoints that Chopin adds to his simple theme before the beautiful embellishments decorating the theme on its way to the lead up to the final explosion of romantic fervour.

The late nocturne op 62 n.1 was full of ravishing sounds with his superb sense of balance that allowed the melodic line to sing with such luminosity unimpeded by the intricate countermelodies which just added colour to the overall musical line.There were cascades of notes that seemed to flow so naturally from his hands and the trills that were just vibrations of sound as they wove their way around the melodic line.There was also a great sense of nostalgia as the nocturne gently weaved its way to the final bars with such exquisite sensibility .A deep added bass note just gave a final glow to this ravishing performance.

One had been aware too of Andrzej’s gentle circular movements almost as though swimming in water where there were no splashes but a constant movement out of which the music flowed so naturally.It was so refreshing to see how the beauty of sound was linked to the beauty of his movements as a painter might brush strokes to a canvas.

The first of Chopin’s waltzes is one of the most scintillating and technically demanding.Op 18 was also used for the ballet Les Sylphides a collection of Chopin’s most famous pieces.Grande Valse Brillante is just that ,with its irresistible sense of dance played with a clarity and sense of subtle rubato that I have not heard played with such style since the Sunday afternoon Chopin recitals by Jan Smeterlin and Stefan Askenase .The great sense of character that he brought to this waltz was of a born Chopin player.With impeccable good taste and a technical mastery whether it be the jeux perlé repeated notes,lines of acciaccaturas or the streams of seemless scales that poured from his hands like silver.The energy and exhilaration that he brought to the end I have only heard from his compatriot Artur Rubinstein.An aristocratic sense of style with the just amount of showmanship with pieces that the composer himself would have ravished and excited his audiences with,in the Parisian salons of the day.

The Scherzo in B minor op 20 and the Polonaise op 53 are two of Chopin’s best known works.They both received remarkable performances free of any rhetoric but full of invention and colour allied to a transcendental control of the keyboard that allowed him to plunge into the opening flourishes of notes in the scherzo or attack at full speed the demonic octaves at the centre of the Polonaise.He gave such shape to the intricate web of notes in the scherzo and the Christmas song that Chopin quotes in the central section was played with enviably rich mellow sound.There was beauty in the Polonaise too as he allowed a respite to the galloping horses in the magical build up to the final heroic climax.Passion and control – authority and character were the outstanding features of these very fine performances

The beautiful Litanei by Schubert was given a ravishing performance in Liszt’s transcription ,where in just two pages he could create a religious stillness with a sense of balance and beauty of sound that was breathtaking.

Rachmaninov Corelli Variations Op 42

Rachmaninov’s Corelli variations were a ‘tour de force’ of technical brilliance and masterly control of sound.From the luminosity of the simple theme he was able to give such character to each of the variations.Even the sparkling cadenzas were shaped in such a musicianly way giving meaning to the notes that were just musical shapes of exquisite beauty and excitement.The tumultuous final octaves at the end were allowed to vibrate as the theme magically reappeared on a cloud of sound much as Bach’s Aria in the Goldberg variations returns after a momentous voyage of discovery.

A remarkable recital from a pianist that over these few years has matured into a artist of great stature.The little Mazurka op 24 n.2 was the perfect way of thanking his faithful public after his fifth performance at St Mary’s.We look forward to many more occasions of appreciating the great artistry of this young musician.

Andrzej Wierciński is a semi finalist of the XVIII International Fryderyk Chopin Piano Competition in Warsaw in 2021. Over the last decade Andrzej has earned an impressive string of awards at prestigious Polish and international piano competitions – most notably winning 1st Prizes at: the International F. Chopin Competition “Golden Ring” in Slovenia (2014), the International F. Chopin Competition in Budapest (2014), the International Neapolitan Masters Competition in Naples (2018), the First ViennaInternational Music Competition (2019), the International Piano Competition in Saint-Priest in France (2019) and the 46th Polish F. Chopin Competition in Warsaw. Those prizes have included many concert engagements abroad, golden medals and cooperation with recording labels in Europe and the Far East, as well as gaining for Andrzej an expanded following of listeners to his music. For example, during the visit to Japan in 2015 of the President of Poland (H. E. Bronisław Komorowski), Andrzej played a Chopin recital in Tokyo in the presence of Princess Masako Owada. In 2015 the KAWAI company invited him to play in Asia whilst in 2019 Andrzej performed a special recital for the Cobbe Collection Trust of historic instruments at Hatchlands Park in the UK, then playing on the 1845 Erard used by Thalberg. He has played concerts in most European countries – including several in the UK – as well as in Canada, Japan and Indonesia. He has performed at significant venues throughout Holland – Het Concertgebouw, and in Slovak Philharmonic and in Warsaw at the Łazienki Królewskie (Chopin’s statue). Andrzej has also collaborated with the best orchestras in the country, such as the National Philharmonic Orchestra and the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra.
In developing his music career Andrzej has taken part in international master courses conducted by eminent pedagogues such as Michel Beroff, Dmitri Alexeev, Akiko Ebi, Andrzej Jasiński, Lee Kum-Sing, Anna Malikova, Dang Thai Son. He has also benefited from invaluable advice and encouragement from Daniil Trifonov. Andrzej Wierciński holds Artistic Scholarships from the Sinfonia Varsovia Foundation, the Krystian Zimerman Scholarship and the YAMAHA Foundation. In 2016 he released his first CD (of works by Chopin, Schumann and Scarlatti).

Yuchong Wu at St Mary’s The simplicity and beauty of a great artist

Thursday 26 May 3.00 pm

Dear Christopher,Have a look at Yuchong Wu yesterday. He arrived at 3.0 and had no warm up time. His Schubert was wonderful – fabulous slow movement. He dedicated his recital to Radu Lupu which was nice…

and this is what I found…………

Some very refined playing of such simplicity and crystalline beauty but not that of an Ingrid Haebler but more like the luminous sound of Geza Anda.But there was also great temperament and phrasing of a subtle beauty without ever disturbing the mechanism that Mozart so miraculously sets in motion.Playing of great honesty without feeling the need to add embellishments that these days we are told are historically correct.There was absolute precision with sounds etched in gold played with a freshness and exhilaration.Drama too in the development but always in style where his temperament was inside the very notes he was playing with such humility.There was a smile of joyful recognition on his face as he returned to the opening theme in the recapitulation.Such beautifully distilled luminous sounds in the Andante with the clashing dissonances played with real astonishment and the ending of timeless beauty.The disarming simplicity of the Allegretto was so gracefully elegant but there was brilliance too as he arrived at the cadenza and then the almost nostalgic final phrases interrupted as Beethoven would have done with three no nonsense chords.This indeed was a real tribute to Radu Lupu who could play with the disarming simplicity of a child and disprove that Mozart is too difficult for adults but too easy for children.There are a few great artists who can reveal the naivety of a child with the experience of an adult.Yuchong like Radu Lupu is one of the chosen few.


An opening of such subtle phrasing and sensibility to changing harmonies .A wondrous sense of balance where the duet between tenor and treble voices was magically judged.There was something very special about the transition from B flat to C sharp minor a whole new world opened up with just three chords played with a quite unique sensibility as we entered the development. A journey full of wondrous surprises and an attempt at a climax where the bubble explodes to reveal ever more wondrous visions of the world that was awaiting Schubert only a few months later.A hauntingly whispered coda prepared us for the marvels that were to await in the Andante sostenuto.Yuchong’s fingers blessed by the Gods indeed. The sheer beauty of the slow movement was sublime as not only the beauty of the melody but the delicacy of the embellishments had something of miraculous.The stillness and purity that this young Chinese pianist found came across even on the streaming and just proved that St Mary’s may be redundant as a church but it is certainly not deconsecrated!Miracles can still happen!The rich Brahmsian chorale was played with ravishing sound and the return to the opening melody with even more delicate embroidery was in Dr Mathers usually measured words ,simply sublime.What can one say after that about the scherzo that was played with refreshing vigour and delicacy as Schubert himself asks and a Trio where the sforzandi pianos were played so gently with none of the jack in the box accents that are usual and totally out of place.The wonderfully luminous call to order of the single note ‘G’ chiming out as the Allegro ma non troppo unfolds with such simple energy before Schubert bursts into his final miraculous melodic outpouring.Leading to moments of great drama and passion all played with such simple honest musicianship.A memorable performance from a young man who had been held up in traffic and just had time to sit at the piano and allow pure simple music to pour from his poetic soul.

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.

Shunta Morimoto – A colossus bestrides Villa Aldobrandini as it had when Liszt was in residence – complete review with Tokyo link to Schumann op 13

Shunta Morimoto at Villa Aldobrandini for Marylene Mouquets oassociation that is dedicated to her mentor Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli.

Marylene Mouquet with William Naboré

A programme that took even his teacher William Naboré by surprise as he sat at the piano after an hour of playing in which every note had been given a weight and an authority of rare concentration.
Offering as an encore Chopin’s Polonaise Fantasie of such architectural shape and power that was quite breathtaking.
He had evidently been thinking about the performance he gave in Japan a week ago and needed to share these new thoughts with an audience that were only too happy to add another great performance to the three on the programme.

Beethoven’s quasi una fantasia op 27 n 1 was played with even more authority than I remember from his recent performances.
A rhythmic drive and scrupulous attention to the composers indications were added now a refined sense of colour and shape that gave this neglected work the same power and musical integrity that Serkin used to bring to it.
The B flat minor Scherzo by Chopin was was remarkable for the revelatory contrasts he found in the score and the same clarity and precision that was a hallmark of all his interpretations.
The menace that he brought to the little triplet which is the very germ of this much maligned work.
But also the ravishing beauty of Chopin’s bel canto and the overwhelming power he brought to the left hand bass notes at key moments of passionate abandon. The excitement in the coda allied to a precision and fearless technical command was as breathtaking as I remember from Artur Rubinstein.

The beauty and transcendental command he brought to Schumann’s Etudes Symphoniques was indeed another revelation .
A work he had just added to his repertoire to play in Japan and very much a voyage of discovery as was clear from listening to his rehearsal before the concert.I was eavesdropping and recovering from a long journey that had taken me from Kew to Frascati in one extra long morning ( due to the time change).I was privileged to hear him searching for hidden colour and playing with the harmonies in a way that many renowned pianists do in public performances!This was a private view in which he was searching in his practicing for hidden secrets of structure as he followed every strand of the music playing with such ravishing beauty.Very quietly and with such concentration sometimes stopping almost meditating as he spoke to himself in private indulgences all of which would later add such colour and authority to his public performance .

His sense of legato too in these sessions was of a transcendental command of the keyboard as he also played technically challenging passages slowly but with such care of the counterpoints and strands of melodic shape that the composer obviously discovered as he jotted down the notes in the moment of inspiration and technical mastery.
The difference with Shunta as with all great musicians is that all these strands and discoveries come together in performance as the great currents of underlying energy were ignited by a temperament and a sensitivity to his surroundings that swept all before it giving such architectural meaning to the overall shape .He could see the wood but he also saw and,oh how he loved,the trees !
It was refreshing to see how he had incorporated four of the posthumous studies into the fabric of the original op 13.The five extra studies of which he chose only four are sometimes played individually as encores or played in a block added to Schumann’s op 13 .Today they added moments of sublime beauty as they were allowed to glisten like jewels in the crown without disturbing the overall structure that Schumann had intended.
A performance where each study merits a special mention not only for his total technical command -ca va sans dire!-but for much much more besides.
A colossus bestrides this magnificent Villa today as it had when Liszt himself was resident .

Bill Naboré Marylene Mouquet Shunta Morimoto

Shunta’s recital in Tokyo on Saturday was a great success. Journalists, audience, and the members of PTNA who came to the concert all gave their hearty praise. I would like to send my compliments and appreciation to you Maestro Naboré once again. This is a recording of the concert with his first public performance of Schumann op 13 two weeks ago in Japan – his second was in Frascati for Marylene Mouquet’s Associazione Michelangeli :

Ms Yuko Ninomiya came to Shunta’s recital with her family. I am sending you an email she gave me after the recital, though it is my poor translation.

‘How many years has it been since I’ve been to a concert that was so wonderful and I listened so attentively? He came out with a lovely smile on his face, and once he touched the piano, I was so impressed that I wondered which maestro was playing!

Shunta with the distinguished teacher Yuko Ninomiya

I was so moved by Shunta’s music, remembering many times when Shohei (Shunta’s teacher, and Yuko’s student) used to come to my home for lessons. I sincerely hope Shunta will continue to improve as a musician.’

The first edition of Schumann op 13 in 1837 carried an annotation that the tune was “the composition of an amateur”: this referred to the origin of the theme, which had been sent to Schumann by Baron von Fricken, guardian of Ernestine von Fricken, the Estrella of his Carnaval op 9 .The baron, an amateur musician, had used the melody in a Theme with Variations for flute. Schumann had been engaged to Ernestine in 1834, only to break abruptly with her the year after. An autobiographical element is thus interwoven in the genesis of the Études symphoniques

It was played by Shunta with great weight where every strand was given it’s just meaning.I had heard him rehearsing this when he was experimenting with the balance between the voices.It was this infinite attention to balance that gave this opening statement such importance as it opened the door to the following variations.The first variation I have never heard with the clarity of a Bach fugue but with independent phrasing of each voice as it overlapped and wove it’s way to the final two chords thrown off with such grace.There was architectural shape to the third played with passion and power and the lightness of his jeux perlé in the third was even more remarkable for the legato melodic line that he sustained with such refined phrasing in the tenor register.Even the problematic trill in the melodic line was played with the legato and simplicity of a Monserrat Caballé.It was here that he inserted the first of the posthumous studies to great effect.It continued the same left hand melodic line but with its majestic ending on a deep C sharp that was interrupted by the chords of the third and fourth variations.The alternating chords usually such a battle were here a civilised conversation between the two voices that led so naturally to the scherzando fluttering of lightness and freshness like opening a window to let in some air after such seriousness.Here he inserted the second opus posthumous study with all its atmospheric vibrations of sound as the melodic line floats on these magic sounds with such emotional comments from the bass voice too.An extraordinary effect of improvisation coming after the rather more solidly placed chords of the previous variations.It allowed us to appreciate even more the romantic effusions and passionate virtuosity of the fifth variation where he not only gave space to the melodic line with the left hand thumb but also managed to shape the bass played by the little finger with an independence that was of quite extraordinary technical command.But Shunta has ten fingers that can become an orchestra with the colours and the instrumental independence that creates a whole.The sixth variation was played with the same rhythmic energy but his hands moved from one position to another with wrists that even one of the audience noted were like rubber as they seemed to wave so naturally at the keyboard.It was this that Agosti told us ,in his studio in Siena,that pianists should have fingers of steel but wrists of rubber?Agosti a disciple of Busoni who was a pupil of Liszt was able to explain so succinctly how to treat this box of hammers and strings and turn it into a full symphony orchestra without hardness or percussive sounds and also make it sing like the greatest bel canto singers of the day.It was indeed Agosti who would intone the seventh variation likening it to a great Gothic Cathedral.

It was exactly the weight and importance that Shunta brought to this remarkable variation.With the architectural structure of nobility and absolute authority that like the structure of a mighty Gothic Cathedral where one can only marvel that man is capable of creating something so monumental but at the same time so simple.Faith can bring man to heights of extraordinary genius as Bach has shown us.It was here that Shunta added the desolate simple skeleton of the fourth posthumous study.The simplicity and the colours he brought to the answering counterpoints was quite extraordinary for it’s sense of calm reflection after the great statement of the seventh.As though we had entered this monument to man’s faith and found just the simple lone crucifix of Christ on the cross.Yes it was a world that Shunta opened up to all those that could appreciate his great artistry and vision.Of course the Presto possible of the ninth variation was thrown off with all the ease of Mendelssohnian lightness.The only thing being ,as all pianist know ,Schumann wrote it as a true ‘tour de force’ of transcendental playing with which he had laboured to devastating effect and had led to him being unable to continue a pianistic career !The majestic tenth variation with it insistent rhythmic drive was contrasted with the miraculous fifth posthumous study.One of Schumann’s most beautiful creations together with the seventeenth of the Davidsbundler -a moment of breathtaking beauty and delicacy.

In rehearsal … work work ……Curzon said:’to be a great pianist is 90% work and 10% God given talent’.God has been very generous to Shunta!

I had been particularly interested in the way he had prepared this and the following ninth variation in rehearsal with a meditative concentration even talking to himself (unfortunately for me in Japanese) as he searched for the colour and points of arrival in the deep bass notes that would give such resonance to the deeply moving melodic line.He had hardly touched the keys at the beginning of this final variations finding a colour of such ravishing delicacy that he had taken from his kaleidoscopic repertoire of sounds hidden in his ten fingers.There was a long pause of deep reflection at the end of this variation before embarking of the Finale.The rhythmic chords usually so heavy and ungrateful were here given a shape and sense of direction that he linked so naturally to the beautiful melody that appears in its midst.Always with the dotted rhythm accompaniment but with a melodic line of such beauty as his finger legato allowed him to shape it without pedal accompanied by the lightness of these dotted rhythms that in lesser hands can become so uniform and ungrateful.The sudden change of key in the coda was breathtaking as he unleashed his full symphony orchestra with the same unrelenting rhythmic drive of a Toscanini.I anxiously await Shunta’s next voyage of discovery with his third performance that I think will be in England soon as winner of the Hastings International Concerto Competition.His UK debut will be in London on the 23rd March with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra playing the most beautiful of all concertos:Beethoven n.4 op 58

George Todica Master Musician at St Mary’s

Tuesday 24 May 3.00 pm

Enescu: Toccata and Pavane from Suite Op 10 no 2

Beethoven: Piano Sonata in C Op 53 ‘Waldstein’
Allegro / Adagio / Rondo

Chopin: Andante Spianato & Grande Polonaise Brillante Op 22

Some superb playing from the winner of this years much sought after Royal Overseas League Competition.
It was last October that after listening to 32 pianists playing in the Beethoven Festival at St Mary’s.I was asked which of all the fine performances of the complete sonatas remained in my memory.It was without doubt this Waldstein Sonata that we heard today.

There was absolute authority with rhythmic drive and clarity allied to a technical command of extraordinary perfection.It was just these qualities that were present today but there was something even deeper about his playing especially in the introduction to the last movement.
Suddenly after the rhythmic drive and exhilaration of the Allegro con brio there was a stillness and contemplation with a completely different tone palette.As he had said in his very enjoyable presentation that after the bright sunlight there was something dark and brooding about the Adagio molto introduction before the sun appeared through the clouds with the Rondo that grows out of it.The original slow movement,Beethoven substituted for this introduction and his first thoughts were published as his Andante Favori.The Rondo was played with scrupulous attention to the composers very precise instructions.The beautiful haze out of which emerges the Rondo theme was exactly as Beethoven had asked and contrasted with the ever more technical hurdles of the intervening episodes.A transcendental technical command that allowed a contrasting clarity with the Rondo theme in a crescendo of rhythmic excitement – Delius’s words come to mind as he dismissed Bach as knotty twine and Beethoven all scales and arpeggios!But in a real musicians hands these scales and arpeggios can lead to an ever increasing rhythmic excitement spilling out into a coda of the invention of a genius.An almost music box beginning leading via glissando scales ( played with the same effect as glissando by George but with an unnoticeable agility of a real magician).It was this real musicianship of George that shone through all he did.Not just doing what the composer writes on the page but turning his sterile markings into the intention behind them.George too is a real showman knowing when to allow himself a real flourish of final exhilaration.

The Enescu was new to me and I remember the interesting discussion I had with George about Enescu during the pandemic when he gave a recital at St Mary’s in collaboration with the Keyboard Charitable Trust.
George is a remarkable musician as you would expect from the school of Norma Fisher but he also has such charm and intelligence that he is able to talk about music in such a fascinating way.
The pandemic had thwarted his marriage plans a few times but had not stopped him and his future wife from giving lockdown concerts on their balcony for all their neighbours.Neighbours who had showered their wonderfully talented young friends with wedding presents as I see from the ring on George’s finger that third time was lucky.
Enescu is something of a hero in Romania – violinist teacher of Menuhin, composer and pianist is rarely heard in the concert hall except occasionally his Rhapsodies on popular tunes that George told us Enescu did not consider them as representing his true more serious compositions.
There is an Enescu Piano Competition and Festival that slowly is trying to bring his music to the fore.George too always tries to include a work of his fellow Romanian in his programmes.
Today he included two movements from Enescu’s early second Suite which he played very persuasively.There was absolute clarity and control of sound as he gave such a robust performance of Enescu’s joyously grandiose melodic invention.There was great delicacy too in the Pavane with embellishments of ravishing beauty.A kaleidoscope of harp like sounds with a music box full of sparkling jewels.

It was the same beauty that he brought to Chopin’s Andante Spianato thanks to a very careful balance between the hands.There was such a refined sense of rubato that allowed the embellishments the same flexibility of a bel canto singer without loosing the overall architectural shape and musical flow.The polonaise too was played with infectious rhythmic elan and moments of transcendental command but there was always the nostalgia and Chopin’s aristocratic style that came to the fore.
I was hoping we might get the promised Ravel Pavane as an encore but time was obviously up and that will have to wait for another occasion

Romanian concert pianist George Todica completed an Artist Diploma degree from the Royal College of Music in 2019 studying with Norma Fisher, and a Masters of Music at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in 2017, studying with Norman Beedie and Jonathan Plowright. George had his Wigmore Hall debut in October 2018 as a Tillett Trust Young Artist, and his more recent competition success include first prizes at the Royal Over-Seas League Keyboard Prize, in 2022 Norah Sande Award in England, ‘Stefano Marizza’ Piano Competition in Italy, the Moray Piano Competition in Scotland, the Llangollen International Eisteddfod in Wales, 2 nd prize at the International Piano Campus Competition in France, and 3 rd Prize at the International Piano Competition Istanbul. His international performances include prestigious halls such as the Trento Philharmonic Hall, the Mozarteum Concert Hall, the Dôme de Pontoise in France, Wigmore Hall, St. Martin-in-the-field, Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, West Road Concert Hall in Cambridge, Theatre by the Lake, Theatre Clwyd, Buxton Festival and King’s Lynn Festival. A keen chamber musician, George is regularly performing with soprano Charlotte Hoather, with whom he has recorded 4 CD albums, and as part of the Chloe Piano Trio with violinist Maria G îlicel and cellist Jobine Siekman. The Trio has been awarded the Royal Philharmonic Society’s Henderson Chamber Ensemble Award in 2021 and have been selected as Kirckman Trust Young Artists’ for the 22/23 season. Projects for 2022 include the release of a CD album with music by women composers, in collaboration with the Abbey Road Institute, as well the launching of a concert series in South East London that highlights women in music and arts.

Talent Unlimited Showcase recital with Braojos,Lukinov and Matviienko

Jessie Harrington and Canan Maxton tireless promotors of young artists via Talent Unlimited

Saturday 21 May 2022, 7pm, at St James’s Church Sussex Gardens Lancaster Gate
Nikita Lukinov, Victor Braojos, pianists and Sofiia Matviienko, flute
Programme Victor Braojos:
Enrique Granados (Lleida 1867–English Channel 1916)
Quejas o la maja y el ruiseñor [from Goyescas]
Ludwig v. Beethoven (Bonn 1770 – Vienna 1827)
Sonata nº32 Op. 111 in C minor
Maestoso – Allegro con brio ed appassionato
Arietta: Adagio molto semplice e cantabile
Programme Nikita Lukinov:
Scriabin (1872-1915), Valse op.38
Tchaikovsky (1840-1893), Scherzo-fantasie, Vivace assai
Prokofiev (1891-1953), Sonata 7 op.83 “Stalingrad”
I – Allegro inquieto (in B♭ major)
II – Andante caloroso (in E major)
III – Precipitato (in B♭ major)

Programme Sofiia Matviienko:
Homo Ludens, a piece by the Ukrainian composer Volodymir Runchak,
Evening concert, St James’s Church, Sussex Gardens, Paddington W2 3UD –

Jessie Harrington congratulating the artists at the end of the concert

Refined Beethoven Scintillating Prokofiev and atmospheric Ukrainian composer Runchak was on the menu with artists from Canan Maxton’s Talented Unlimited team at St James’s in Lancaster Gate.

The delicacy and kaleidoscopic colour that Víctor Braojos brought to Granados’s Maiden and the Nightingale set the atmosphere that was to remain for the entire concert.His performance of Beethoven’s last piano sonata had authority and weight and the magic of the trills at the end of this great last journey that Beethoven makes had been ignited by the delicacy of Granados’s enchanted nightingale.
Here though in Beethoven they had a different significance as the Arietta traversed a lifetime journey before reaching the paradise that awaits.
A profound sense of stillness and beauty were revealed by this young Catalan pianist whose new recording ‘Shreds of life’ have ignited in him the maturity and authority of a true artist.

The stage was set for Nikita Lukinov with a completely different palette of colours as he embellished Tchaikowsky’s richly embroidered Scherzo Fantasie with scintillating streams of notes that poured so effortlessly from his hands.
The charm and grace that he brought to Scriabin’s Valse op 38 was of another age with such subtle colours that ignited this salon concert waltz as the great pianists of the Golden Age must have done.
The luminosity of sound with the Allegro inquieto of Prokofiev’s 7th Sonata was refreshingly unexpected and was just the start of a long journey of remarkable colours that this young Russian extracted from the piano inbetween bursts of unrelenting rhythmic energy.Sumptuous rich sounds in the Andante Caloroso were contrasted with the absolute clarity of the precipitato that Nikita brought to red hot boiling point with transcendental virtuosity.

It seemed a strange choice to close a concert of such major masterpieces for the piano with solo flute.
The surprise of the evening was the ravishing performance by Sofia Matviienko of Homo Ludens by a fellow Ukrainian.
Some remarkable colours in which she not only blew into the flute but she also caressed it and even sang into it as this single instrument became a world of atmospheric sounds and indeed the cherry on the cake of a remarkable concert

The audience at St James’s
Nikita Lukinov with his teacher Tatiana Sarkissova
Víctor Braojos with Can Arisoy both artists of Talent Unlimited
Jessie Harrington with the distinguished pianist Angela Brownridge and friend
Canan Maxton selfless promoter of young talent via her Talent Unlimited

Sergei Babayan Artist in residence -‘Bewitched,bothered and bewildered ‘

I have rarely seen the Wigmore Hall so full as for the charismatic teacher of Trifonov,Sergei Babayan .The announced first book of the ‘48 had been changed to a mixed programme with Bach Busoni as near as we got to the original.
Followed by a selection of Schubert songs transcribed by Liszt (one of which he left out,Aufenthalt- surely the most beautifully haunting ) and 3 Etudes tableau instead of the two advertised and a Moment musical by Rachmaninov.

Some serious work was needed from the piano tuner in the interval which gave some indication of the power and physical onslaught the piano had endured.

His playing is of the old Russian school of massive sonorities that are never hard due to the complete relaxation of his arms .
I remember just the same overwhelming sonorities in the Festival Hall with Lazar Berman ( known by some as Laser Beam) playing the 12 transcendental studies by Liszt -I had a hard job to get out after the third one ,due to my student choir seat,but I just could not take these offensively overwhelming sounds.
Babayan even jerked his arms down with all his force into the keyboard to produce ever more overpowering sounds.
The massive amount of pedal did allow some ravishing sounds in the quieter passages but with some rather too personal rubati that in the Bach could be best described as grotesque.
The Schubert songs a favourite warhorse of Russian pianists produced a mixture or ravishing almost improvised playing that one felt it a pity he could not keep more control as the temperature rose.
I was hoping for better things in Rachmaninov but his search for massive overwhelming sonorities with such enormous amounts of pedal meant that the clarity and beauty of Rachmaninov was lost in a general rather vague haze.

I was interested to hear Liszt’s B minor Ballade but it was so wayward with such violent sudden accents and notes thrown off with astonishing bravura more of a general impression than a measured interpretation.
I had hoped to leave discreetly before Kreisleriana but as no one had realised the Ballade was over he immediately ‘attacked’ the Schumann with such strange accents and wayward rhythms that was to be the key to his whole interpretation .
There were many ravishing things in the second piece but without any real sense of logic or line that after a while became just sounds without form or direction and were ultimately just boring .
I managed to leave before the contemporary final piece and listen from outside whilst I wrote this chronicle.
An ovation with cat calls and shouts rarely heard in this hall brought forth the Aria from the Goldberg variations.

A good rest which I think the piano deserved.
It seemed very beautiful from behind the doors .Measured ,simple with subtle ornamentation and it was a wonderful cleansing of the air that had been too full of passionate sonorities and improvisations.Obviously even Babayan craved for the simple beauty that he gave us at the end – he had been hammering away at the piano hours before the public was let in the hall – somewhat reminiscent of a recent experience in Rome with Pogorelich. It had me thinking what a pity he had changed the original programme where his fantasy and colours might have fitted into Bach’s mathematical structure and illuminated the knotty twine in a revelatory way.
Unfortunately this was not to be and has left me feeling perplexed and not a little offended by his performances today.

Anyone who reads my personal chronicles often complain that I only write positive things and I often say that if I don’t like a performance I do not feel it necessary to share my opinion with others .Playing in public is never easy and I take my hat off to all those that dare tread the boards and if an interpretation does not convince who am I to criticise?
Today I feel so offended not only by what I heard but also the reaction of an audience who have known the excellence of artists like Andras Schiff,Angela Hewitt ,Paul Lewis,Igor Levit,Martha Argerich or Steven Isserlis to mention just a few of the eminent musicians who play in this hallowed hall.

I cannot help thinking of another Russian pianist who played here last week to an empty hall giving one of the finest interpretations of Beethoven op 111 that I have ever heard.
Or Paul Lewis’s 50th birthday concert in a half empty Barbican yesterday with revelatory performances.

Rachel Cheung flew in today from Singapore to record in Germany and was unable to find space in London to give a recital.A great talent from Yale University where she was mentored by Peter Frankl whom she has flown in to see and play to at his home tomorrow.

Could it be that the ever diminishing public for classical music is happy to be entertained rather than moved?
Babayan is an artist in residence at the Wigmore Hall which is certainly food for thought.

I am sure that in his teaching his fantasy and preoccupation with the message behind the notes might be illuminating for someone with an already classical training.
It is a school of thought that other eminent teachers from the Russian school impart to their talented students.I was told just the other day that there is no such thing as style but it is the emotional content that counts more than the frame it is in!
An interesting point of view but in the end surely the composers very precise indications should be the starting point for any interpretation -just look at Liszt’s own very faithful edition of the Beethoven Sonatas or Debussy’s Chopin.

Anything less than respect for the composers written wishes is a free improvisation which may have moments of illuminating certain passages but without a frame or sense of architectural shape it ultimately become boring.The underlying rhythmic current is continually disturbed by not seeing the wood for the trees.
A true artist with integrity,honesty and much suffering should be able to show us both.
The artist who does that more than any other in my day is Murray Perahia who alas has been away from the concert stage for too long for health reasons.
For his mentor Rufolf Serkin the score was the absolute bible,as it was for mine Guido Agosti (a disciple of Busoni who was a disciple of Liszt).
Perahia was ready to be illuminated by his other mentor Vladimir Horowitz who on his appearance in Paris like Liszt before him was considered by many to be the greatest pianist alive or dead!
Tonight at the Wigmore Hall I left ‘Bewitched.bothered and bewildered ‘