Tuesday 10 May 3.00 pm
Playing of great authority and musicianship in a programme dedicated to his new CD ‘Shreds of light’ .Victor Braojos illuminated all that he played.From the reflective heartfelt melody of the sun rising in Granados Maiden and the Nightingale through the traces of lightness in Brahms’s mournful Intermezzi .The link with the UK premier of Marc Migò’s Epitaph that took us to a performance of radiance and burning intensity of Liszt’s monumental Sonata in B minor.The simplicity and beauty of the Epilogue from Granados’ Romantic scenes brought us full circle as we were embraced by the luminosity of this young man’s dedication and light to give us hope after the pandemic.
Goyescas op 11, subtitled Los majos enamorados (The Gallants in Love), is a suite of seven pieces written in 1911 by Spanish composer Enrique Granados and was inspired by the work of Goya .The fourth piece in the series (Quejas, ó la maja y el ruiseñor—The Maiden and the Nightingale) is the best known piece and resembles a nocturne but is filled with intricate figuration, inner voices and, near the end, glittering bird-like trills and quicksilver arpeggios.It was played with sumptuous sound and luminosity with a sensual atmosphere that contrasted so well with the clarity of the nightingale figurations that disappeared in a flourish at the end before the final gentle chord that was placed with such loving care.
The Three Intermezzi for piano, Op. 117 were described by the critic Eduard Hanslick as “monologues”… pieces of a “thoroughly personal and subjective character” striking a “pensive, graceful, dreamy, resigned, and elegiac note.” They were composed in 1892.The first intermezzo, in E♭ major, is prefaced in the score by two lines from an old Scottish ballad, Lady Anne Bothwell’s Lament: ‘Balow, my babe, lie still and sleep!It grieves me sore to see thee weep.’It was played with great beauty and shape and a delicacy as the gently shaded accompanying chords were spread over the entire keyboard.The second intermezzo in B flat minor was played with great weight where the musical line was allowed to unravel so simply on a wave of mellifluous sounds.The unison legato chords of the third were played with great freedom and sweep as waves of sumptuous sounds flowed with such exquisite shading in the central section.
Epitafi by the Catalan composer Marc Migò is the link that Victor found that takes us from the mournful nuances of Brahms to the intensity and emotional demanding Liszt Sonata .As Victor says :‘……..without a shadow of doubt this is probably one of the most striking piano pieces I have ever played ……..from the initial static naiveté of a children’s song through more fiery moods to reach a final state of inner piece which does not exclude pain,acceptance and resilience.’It was given a totally convincing performance of both luminosity and rhythmic energy with the composer listening from New York to the UK debut of his work from the hands of such a devout performer.
Marc Migò receiving a Deutsche Grammophon CD collection from his grandfather for his 16th birthday, Marc Migó (1993, Barcelona) became unexpectedly and passionately drawn to its contents. This discovery led him to seek out guidance from pianist Liliana Sainz and composer Xavier Boliart. Three years later, he enrolled at ESMUC (Superior Music School of Catalonia). In 2017, thanks to a scholarship issued by Fundación SGAE, Marc moved to New York in order to continue his musical studies. He pursued his Masters at The Juilliard School, where he was awarded the 2018 Orchestral Composition Prize. In 2019 he received The Pablo Casals Festival Award for his Cello Sonata “Cerdanyenca”, a Morton Gould young composers award by ASCAP and the New Juilliard annual commissioning competition award. He also has been a fellow at the 2020 Minnesota Orchestra Composer’s Institute and a winner of the George Enescu Prize 2020, among other international recognitions. Marc Migó is currently a C.V. Starr fellow at Juilliard, where he is earning a DMA in composition under the mentorship of John Corigliano. He has received commissions from leading institutions, ensembles and performers, such as UrbanArias, the Dutch National Opera, Liceu Opera House, the New Juilliard Ensemble, Festival Pablo Casals in Prades, l’Associació Joan Manén, Fundación Pro Arte Córdoba, and duo Isas-Kwiek, among others.
The Liszt Sonata was dedicated to Schumann in return for Schumann’s dedication of his Fantasie op 17 (published 1839) to Liszt.A copy of the work arrived at Schumann’s house in May 1854, after he had entered Endenich sanatorium.His wife Clara did not perform the Sonata as according to scholar Alan Walker she found it “merely a blind noise”.It was published by Breitkopf & Härtel in 1854 and first performed on January 27, 1857 in Berlin by Hans von Bulow .It was attacked by the critic Eduard Hanslick who said “anyone who has heard it and finds it beautiful is beyond help”.Brahms reputedly fell asleep when Liszt performed the work in 1853.However, the Sonata drew enthusiasm from Wagner following a private performance of the piece by Karl Klindworth on April 5, 1855.Otto Gumprecht of the German newspaper Nationalzeitung referred to it as “an invitation to hissing and stomping”.It took a long time for the Sonata to become accepted into the concert repertoire, because of its technical difficulty and negative initial reception due to its status as “new” music. However by the early stages of the twentieth century, the piece had become established as a pinnacle of the romantic repertoire.
As Victor was right to point out the first page includes the entire ingredients of the sonata where their transformation forms the framework of a new form that was later to be taken up by Wagner and many others.Victor played with remarkable intelligence and sense of architectural shape.Carefully noting Liszt’s very precise dynamic markings of piano,mezzo forte and forte so often overlooked by pianists ready to vent their passion and virtuosity on a work that contains much more than just that.
Victor’s musicianship was allied to a technical control and kaleidoscopic sense of colour.There were moments of great passion too from this fiery young Spaniard but always with such care of balance that allowed the musical line to be shaped so clearly and not submerged by technical hi jinx as a vehicle to show off lesser pianists ‘virtuosity’ .The ‘quasi adagio’ was played with great sensitivity but allowed to flow so simply as it led to a great passionate outpouring that was played with such architectural understanding.The fugato too was so clearly played as it gradually built up ‘ più crescendo’ and ‘ energico’ leading to the recapitulation and the final tumultuous octaves played with extraordinary command and sumptuous sound.The final remarkable bars were played with a sense of atmosphere as the final three chords disappeared into the distance – even here Liszt marks diminuendo so rarely noted but in Victor’s hands gave such meaning to what Hugh Mather described as a ‘towering’ performance.
Usually praised for his highly poetical, intense and original performances, Víctor Braojos studied his BMus (Hons) at Escola Superior de Música de Catalunya (Barcelona), supported by a scholarship by the Anna Riera Foundation. He later moved to London, where he pursued his Master in Piano Performance (Distinction and Concert Recital Diploma) and Artist Diploma at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, working with Martin Roscoe and thanks to an Excellence Scholarship Award given by this institution. Over these years, he has completed his musical formation working with world-acclaimed performers such as Imogen Cooper DBE, Stephen Hough CBE, Robert Levin or Stephen Kovacevich, being chosen at the same time to join the roster of artists supported by renowned institutions, such as the Imogen Cooper Music Trust, Talent Unlimited and the Keyboard Charitable Trust.
He has won several prizes and awards in National and International Piano Competitions, such as the 1st Prize in the Catalunya Piano Competition (youngest winner in the 50 years of history of this competition), the 1st Prize in the Barcelona Piano Competition, the 1st Prize in the Girona Musical Competition or the 2nd Prize at the prestigious “El Primer Palau Music Competition”.
Along his career he has performed in several venues across Spain, the UK, Italy, France or Russia, among which we could remark concerts at the Palau de la Música Catalana, Palau Maricel de Sitges, the National Auditorium of Barcelona or the London Steinway Hall. Over the season 2021-22 he will make his début recitals at the Ribble Valley International Piano Week, Granollers Auditorium or 30, Pavilion Road Hall, a part from releasing his new CD, named Shreds of light.