Bach’s great five part fugue was played with the profound weight of a true believer.After a gloriously flowing prelude of luminous sounds the great bass notes of the fugue subject were intoned with poignant meaning with playing of such clarity and architectural shape.Bach’s thoughts expressing a world of meaning with a mathematical precision of such genius and humanity.Arriving at a startling dissonance where the fugue seems to unravel as it finds such peace and its final resting place.It was the great understanding that Ariel brought to this masterpiece that was remarkable for his maturity .
It was to be the hallmark of the entire recital where every note was pregnant with meaning.Even Schumann’s rarely heard Allegro op 8 seemed to have a ravishing shape of burning intensity.Played with a romantic fervour and technical brilliance but with a sense of line and poetic meaning that I have always missed from lesser performers.
It was originally intended to be the opening movement for a never-completed sonata and was Schumann’s first major attempt at mastering a more expansive form showing the integration of virtuosic material into sonata form. In addition to the many colourful enharmonic modulations throughout the developmental sections, one notable feature of the piece is the transformation from the dark, B minor opening, to the beautiful B major ending.Nearly the entire first decade of Schumann’s output as a composer was dominated exclusively by the piano which he approached from a performer’s standpoint, often composing virtuosic works that demanded superb skills from the performer.The Allegro opens with a powerful cadenza serving as an introduction to the succeeding sonata form with a conclusion of brilliant arpeggios and energetic dotted rhythms.Alternating moments of beauty with feux follet streams of golden sounds of romantic beauty.Ariel played like a man possessed as he threw off the considerable technical challenges with consummate ease and showed us the true architectural line whilst pointing out the many passages of sublime beauty and passionate intensity.
It was the Kinderscenen,though,that was remarkable for its poetic simplicity with a reading of such immediacy and absolute authority.
It was of an originality where all the rhetoric of tradition had been shorn away and the bare bones were exposed as Schumann had intended.Scenes of childhood as seen through the innocent eyes of youth .A timeless reading that left us all breathless at the end with minutes of aching silence after the poet,Schumann,had spoken.It just demonstrated the spell that this exquisitely sensitive young man had cast today.’Of ForeignLands and People’ was played at a more flowing tempo than usual as it made the melodic line so clear and simple ,flowing like the introduction it is A curtain raiser that made one curious as to what was to be revealed next!
Ariel’s beautiful hand movements should be mentioned too as he seemed to paddle in serene waters that were to take us on a magical journey of discovery.’A strange Story’ opening with seemingly rather clipped rhythms but contrasted so well with the mellifluous legato bursts of melody that alternate and that were played with such a delicate sense of line.’Hare and Hounds’ was played with fleeting lightness and sense of ‘joie de vivre’ with a jeux perlé that seemed to pour so naturally from his fingers.’A Pleading Child’ was played with haunting beauty and sense of ravishing shape.There was great sweep to the melodic line with subtle counterpoints in a duet between the voices that was indeed ‘Quite Happy’.It led to ‘An important event’ that had such shape as it came into focus only to disappear as quickly as it had passed us by.Played with sumptuous rich sound but never moving away from the magic cloud of sound on which these miniature gems belong.
‘Dreaming’ was played with ravishing sound and a sense of balance where it’s many mellifluous strands were revealed with such natural beauty.It led to ‘By the Fireside’ where Schumann’s final impatience brings us back to the child’s world of simplicity.He rode ‘The Knight of the Hobby-horse’ with remarkable rhythmic energy and forward propulsion – a wake up call when things seemed to be getting almost too serious!Only momentarily as the beautifully poised melodic line of ‘Rather serious’ took us to the quixotic ‘Frightening’.It was the startling changes of character that Ariel brought to this remarkable piece that contrasted so well with the sublime beauty of his playing in the penultimate :’ The Child Falling Asleep’.The gentle clashing harmonies were played with poignant beauty as Ariel’s fingers seemed to be pointing us to the jewels that were sparkling so radiantly and the magic land that was to take us to the utter simplicity of ‘The Poet speaks’.Here the slow chorale was played with enviable control and a cadenza of such radiance that the final few utterances held us breathless with anticipation.The silences spoke even louder than the magical sounds .Ariel afterwards spoke of his admiration for Alfred Cortot performances of this and the Cesar Franck that was to follow.What could I say :Cortot is Cortot and you are you but a poet is always a poet!
What a surprise to hear Franck’s rather pompous Prelude Aria and Finale played with great authority and total conviction.Whereas the Prelude Chorale and Fugue that we heard two days ago from Jonathan Ferrucci was an exultation of a humble believer. https://christopheraxworthymusiccommentary.wordpress.com/2022/05/02/jonathan-ferrucci-the-essence-of-music-with-aristocratic-intelligence-and-passion-at-st-marys/. The Prelude ,Aria and Finale is a declaration of faith where there is only God on high and not the God who was sent to redeem us.High church rather than the church of the people.Nevertheless a truly remarkable performance played with astonishing technical assurance and an impeccable sense of style but we were more astonished by the nobility and reverence than seduced by any subtle humble persuasion.There was a beautiful sense of balance from the very first notes and the great beauty of the entry of the tenor voice leading to such passionate almost Elgarian vehemence.It was played with overpowering conviction that the gentle prayer of the ‘poco ritenuto’ came as a relief as it built up with great agility to the triumphant March like transformation of the opening theme.The plain chant of the Aria was played with a luminosity of sound and serenity that Ariel conveyed with moving conviction.The sublime ending ‘dolce ma cantabile’seemed to be pointing on high until the rude interruption of the menacing bass rumbling of the finale.Here the triumphant transformation of the Prelude was exhilarating with streams of golden sounds that cascaded around the noble counterpoints that this master craftsman had depicted.There was a sublime change of key as the melody floated dolcissimo on streams of sound with some ravishing playing that almost reached the glorious heights of Franck’s other great masterpiece for the piano.It led to the gradual exultation of the main theme on glorious left hand octaves played with such nobility and grandeur in the greatest of the church chorale tradition but ,of course,alla Busoni or Liszt.The surprise was the gradual whispered finale reaching and almost attaining the heights that it had aspired to.A remarkable performance where the intelligence and musicianship of Ariel almost convinced me that this was undeniably a wrongfully neglected masterpiece.
In 2021, Ariel won third prize at the Leeds International Piano Competition, and was a prize winner in the inaugural Young Classical Artists Trust (London) and Concert Artists Guild (New York) International Auditions. Over the last year Ariel has made his debut at Wigmore Hall and participated in the Marlboro Music Festival in Vermont, alongside renowned artists such as Mitsuko Uchida and Jonathan Biss. His recording of music by Schubert for Linn Records was released, and he gave live concerts (for release online) for the Vancouver Recital Society in Canada and the Banco de la República in Colombia. As soloist he performed Brahms Concerto No.2 with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, and Beethoven’s Concerto No.2 at the Royal Academy of Music. This season Ariel returns to give performances in the Miami Piano Festival and at Wigmore Hall, as well as recitals in Rome and across the UK, and performances with orchestras in Israel and in the US, playing concerti by Mozart and Brahms.Ariel has performed widely in Europe, previous highlights including recitals at the deSingel Arts Centre in Antwerp (stepping in for Till Fellner), Salle Cortot in Paris and a performance of Mozart’s Concerto, K.491 with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. Conductors whom he has in the past collaborated with include Yi-An Xu, Peter Whelan, Andrew Manze, and Trevor Pinnock. He regularly appears in concerts broadcast live on Israeli radio and television and on Radio France. Born in Jerusalem in 1997, in 2021 Ariel completed his studies at the Royal Academy of Music in London with Ian Fountain, having studied with the late Hamish Milne. Prior to this, he studied at the High School and Conservatory of the Jerusalem Academy of Music, first with Lea Agmon, later with Yuval Cohen. Whilst there, he also studied violin and composition.An avid chamber musician, Ariel has collaborated with leading members of the Berliner Philharmoniker and the Concertgebouw Amsterdam, as well as with eminent musicians such as Maria João Pires, Marina Piccinini, Charles Neidich, and Torleif Thedéen. Festival appearances include the Hvide Sande (Denmark), Ravello (Italy), Ausseer Festsommer (Austria), Bosa Antica (Sardinia) and Israel Festivals.Ariel has received extensive tuition from eminent artists such as Robert Levin, Murray Perahia, Imogen Cooper, Leif Ove Andsnes, Steven Osborne, and the late Leon Fleisher and Ivan Moravec. Awards include 1st Prize at the 2018 Grand Prix Animato Competition in Paris and 1st Prize in the Dudley International Piano Competition, as well as a finalist award at the Rubinstein Competition. Ariel is a Countess of Munster Recital Scheme Artist
https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m0017ds9. Please listen you will not regret it
A monumental performance by Ariel Lanyi of Beethoven’s ‘Hammerklavier’op 106 from Perth Concert Hall.Ravishing sounds combined with vigorous attack and dynamic contrasts.Caught up in the spell he cast with the Adagio Sostenuto I was not expecting the transcendental difficulties of the fugue to be played with such clarity but unexpectedly such beauty.You see Mr Delius knotty twine can be as embracing as a Bernini statue.
I remember Richter not happy with his performance in the Festival Hall sitting down and playing it again as an encore.
Annie Fischer has gone down in legend playing the fugue as an encore after giving a magnificent Beethoven recital standing in at a moments notice for an indisposed Louis Kentner.
André Tchaikowsky was memorable too and his discussions about the order of the movements was as stimulating and provocative as Hans Keller and an integral part of this great thinking musician.
Serkin too was unforgettable not only for the sublime sounds in the Adagio but for the energy and frenzy that seemed to keep him in a trance.He was still shaking,as we all were,on the earth shattering last chord.Lightning does not strike twice….but when it does it certainly leaves its mark!
Listening to Ariel today in the heat of the Mediterranean sun I just realised what a privilege it is to know that this great legacy is being perpetuated with such seriousness and humility by this young virtuoso.A younger generation who too often think that quantity rather than quality counts as they plough through the myriad of notes in yet another Rachmaninov 3 or Prokofiev 2
Probably the same amount of notes but Mr Beethoven puts them in a different order!