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. https://christopheraxworthymusiccommentary.com/2021/10/03/beethoven-is-alive-and-well-and-in-perivale/
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. https://christopheraxworthymusiccommentary.wordpress.com/2020/11/11/george-todica-at-st-marys-duality-and-transformation/
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.