Presentation of Award by Critics’ Circle to St Mary’s Perivale ‘Lockdown Star Venue’
‘Lockdown stars’ as Robert Fitness of the critics circle described the Mecca for young musicians that has been created by an extraordinary team of passionate ‘amateurs’ in a small redundant church on Ealing Golf Course.
But as Rosalyn Tureck once said to my wife:it is a great satisfaction to have one’s work recognised but it is the work that counts!
Damir Durmanovic was the living proof of that today giving a recital of such musicianship and artistry that I was reminded of the unique sounds that Moiseiwitch would coax out of the piano with his ravishing sense of balance and aristocratically natural musicianship. Sounds from the piano that Matthay had shared with Myra Hess and Moura Lympany where every note has an infinite variety of beautiful sounds that can as if by magic turn a box of hammers and strings into a wondrous world of fantasy and sumptuous delight. Damir has much in common with them too with his natural musicianship that has been nurtured from his youthful studies with Marcel Baudet and Robert Levin at that remarkable school that Menuhin has bequeathed to his adopted country. Programmes that are constructed with key relationships in mind. Repertoire chosen from a vast range of neglected masterpieces. A true musician who can improvise and modulate as was the norm in Bach’s day but has now become a rarity. I am not sure if the public were aware of the improvised link between the rare pieces by Lyadov and the Rachmaninov Preludes Dr Hugh Mather sounded perplexed as to why Damir should play the well known Rachmaninov preludes in a seemingly arbitrary order. Damir simply explained that the preludes had never been written by Rachmaninov with the idea to be played all together and so he had tried to link them by key relationships to make a more satisfying whole. Well Damir is part of the school of Andras Schiff,Paul Baudura Skoda and Robert Levin with their extraordinary curiosity that comes from deep research together with the natural musicianship like the ‘kapellmeisters’ of a bygone age.
An eclectic encore of a very moving performance with the sumptuously rich sounds of Brahms ‘Herzlich tut mich verlangen’op posth 122 in the richly embroidered version for piano by Busoni.The chorale preludes, not published until five years after his death, turned out to be Brahms’ last work. From one of the greatest composers of symphonies, chamber works, a requiem and more—a collection of short pieces that honour the past, reflect his own time, and continue to be re-interpreted today.Brahms wrote the 11 preludes in 1896 for organ,soon after the death of his dear friend, Clara Schumann. The short liturgical pieces, used to elaborate hymn tunes during a service, recall the music of J.S. Bach.
Damir is also an excellent cook and the magic he cooked up for his teacher Dmitri Alexeev and family the other day in my garden was the same magic that he cooked up today at the keyboard! Music is life and life is music,just as the dedicated people of St Mary’s are showing us at least three times a week. They say miracles do not happen twice in the same place ….well I know differently.
As an internationally sought-after performer, Damir Durmanovic has performed in venues and festivals including the Wigmore Hall, Champs Hill Studios, YPF Festival Amsterdam, Wimbledon Music Festival, Renia Sofia Audotorium Madrid, Gstaad Menuhin Festival, Derby Multifaith Center, Flusserei Flums, ‘Ballenlager’ Vaduz. He has won prizes in numerous international competitions including The Beethoven Intercollegiate Junior Competition in London, Adilia Alieva International Piano Competition in Geneva and Isidor Bajic International Piano Competition in Novi Sad. He has performed in masterclasses with Claudio Martinez-Mehner, Dmitri Bashkirov, Pascal Devoyon, Jacques Rouvier, Robert Levin, Jean-Bernard Pommier, Tatyana Sarkisova, and chamber ensembles such as the Emerson Quartet. Damir is also a scholar at the ‘Musikakademie Liechtestein’ and regularly participates in the courses organised by the academy. Damir began his studies at age of eight in his home country, Bosnia and Herzegovina, with Maja Azabagic before continuing his studies at the Yehudi Menuhin School where he studied with professor Marcel Baudet. He is an ABRSM scholar and is kindly supported by the Talent Unlimited Scheme. He is currently studying at the Royal College of Music in London with professor Dmitri Alexeev.
It was the same innocence of simple music making that I had heard from Milda in Perivale recently that was the hallmark of her recital for the Keyboard Trust .Such a refreshing ‘joie de vivre’ of a young pianist who actually looks carefully at the score and with crystalline technical ease can imbue the music with youthful charm and energy.The same innocent charm that she shared with Prof Leslie Howard in their brief post concert slightly one sided conversation.Charmed he was too!Especially having enjoyed her performances of Beethoven,Debussy and Bartòk where she had delved deeply into the score and translated what she had found into sounds of such buoyancy and well oiled fluency.It was good to be reminded by Prof.Howard that Bartòk had written his Sonata with the Imperial Bosendorfer in mind – a piano that can be bewildering with its 97 keys- the extra keys painted black or even covered by a wooden box! It can be very disconcerting to a pianist that is used to navigating the standard keyboard.The nine extra keys are coloured black so the pianist can distinguish them from the standard 88. The keys are rarely used, but the extra bass strings add harmonic resonance that contributes to the rich, overall sound of the instrument.
Beethoven Sonata No. 18 Op. 31 No.3
Debussy Préludes La cathédrale engloutie Minstrels La terrasse des audiences du clair de lune
Bartók Piano Sonata, BB 88 (Sz. 80)
The Piano Sonata, BB 88, Sz. 80,Hungarian composer Béla Bartòk was composed in June 1926 known to musicologists as Bartók’s “piano year”, when he underwent a creative shift in part from Beethovenian intensity to a more Bachian craftsmanship.It is in three movements: Allegro moderato. Sostenuto e pesante. Allegro moltoIt is tonal but highly dissonant (and has no key signature), using the piano in a percussive fashion with erratic time signatures. Underneath clusters of repeated notes, the melody is folklike. Each movement has a classical structure overall, in character with Bartók’s frequent use of classical forms as vehicles for his most advanced thinking.Bartok wrote it with an Imperial Bosendorfer in mind, which has extra keys in the bass (97 keys in total) and the second movement calls for these keys to be used (to play G♯0 and F0).It is dedicated to his second wife Ditta-Pasztory – Bartòk
The Italian composer, conductor and pianist Ferruccio Busoni meticulously transcribes the famous organ works of Bach.He soon realises that he requires additional bass notes in order to do Bach’s masterpieces and the immersive sound of 16 to 32 feet bass pipes found in an organ justice. Ludwig Bösendorfer is ready to take on the challenge and builds the first prototype having full 8 octaves in tonal range. Not only Busoni starts to appreciate the exceptional qualities of the – later coined – Imperial Concert Grand: Bartók, Debussy and Ravel compose further works to exploit the tremendous resonance of this very instrument. These oeuvres can only played and interpreted as they were meant to on this Concert Grand. Evoking an extraordinary sound – sonorous and rich in expression and resonance – the timbre of the Imperial Grand seems to be orchestral. The additional deeper bass notes resonate with every key you strike and the massive soundboard supports the projection of any frequency. Ludwig Bösendorfer’s Imperial still to this day represents the precious heritage of the Bösendorfer piano manufactory.
Born in September 2001 in Anykščiai, Lithuania, Milda Daunoraite began her piano studies at the age of six.Studying piano performance at the The Purcell School For Young Musicians, London, with Tessa Nicholson she now continues her studies with her on a full scholarship at the Royal Academy of Music .With the support of “SOS Talents – Fondation Michel Sogny pour les Enfants Talentueux” and Mstislav Rostropovich Foundation, Milda began performing extensively throughout Europe for many eminent music societies, festivals and key events. Milda has performed at venues such as the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, The Wigmore Hall in London, Musikhuset Aarhus in Denmark, United Nations headquarters in Geneva amongst others. In addition, she was given the opportunity to appear in countries such as France, Austria, Georgia, Poland, Switzerland, Germany, Denmark, Holland, Latvia, Russia, Sweden, United Kingdom and many cities across Lithuania. Furthermore, Milda is a prize-winner of numerous national and international piano competitions.In 2010, she was adjudicated a Grand Prix winner in the 10th International Competition “Music Without Limits”, Lithuania. In 2014, Milda won Grand Prix in the International Musicians Competition – festival “Renaissance”. In 2015, she won 1st prize in the 4th International Competition in Stockholm and the International Young Pianists Competition in Klaipėda, Lithuania. That year, Milda‘s playing impressed the jury once again and she received grand prix in the 15th International Competition “Music Without Limits”, Lithuania. Moreover, Milda was a four-time Prize winner in the National and International Balys Dvarionas Competitions for young pianists and violinists, followed by several special prizes: the best performance of a baroque piece, best performance of a classical composition, best performance of a contemporary piece, artistic prize. In 2016, she won the jury prize in the PIANALE International Academy & Competition and was awarded a concert in Fulda, Germany, and an opportunity to play with an orchestra. In 2017, Milda was a 1st prize winner in the 17th international competition-festival “Akordy Khorticy”, as a soloist and as soloist with orchestra.In March 2018, she won the 1st Prize in the International Vladimir Krainev Young Pianist Competition in Kharkov, Ukraine, as well as special prizes: the best performance of a classical period composition, best performance of a piece by F. Liszt, best performance of a virtuoso piece, EMCY Prize. In April 2018 she also won the Grand Prix at “Akordy Khorticy”. At the end of the 2019 academic year, Milda won the 1st prize in the Solo Competition at the Purcell School and as a prize she is going to perform Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G major in the Queen Elizabeth Hall in March, 2020.Every year, Milda has an opportunity to appear in a Christmas concert held on the Champs Elysées in Paris. The young pianist’s performances were broadcast by Mezzo, TV5 Monde and Radio Classique. She has also performed in the Batumi concert hall twice, which was watched by both the Lithuanian and Georgian Presidents and at the EMMA World Summit of Nobel Prize Peace Laureates in Warsaw, Poland.Milda was invited to perform V. Bacevičius Concerto for Piano and Orchestra No.4, in the Lithuanian National Philharmonic with Lithuanian Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra, together with conductor Martynas Stakionis, which was broadcasted by Euroradio, in November 2018.Milda was previously a student of Justas Dvarionas and has participated in masterclasses with artists such as Olga Kern, Pascal Devoyon, Pietro De Maria, Yong Hi Moon, Grigory Gruzman, Fali Pavri, William Fong, Mūza Rubackytė, Uta Weyand, Petras Geniušas and many others.
Please consider a donation Please help us to continue supporting talented young artists by making a donation to the Keyboard Trust. Every penny will be used to help these outstanding musicians. Thank you so much.
Keyboard Charitable Trust for Young Professional Performers 30th Anniversary Year Patron: Sir Antonio Pappano
Beethoven: Sonata Op 54 in F In Tempo d’un Menuetto – Allegretto
But today listening to such burning intensity and contrasting beauty I was reminded of Joan Chissell ‘s review of Artur Rubinstein in the 70’s …..’The Prince of pianists’ was the title and she went on to say that Mr Rubinstein had turned baubles into gems……..referring to ‘O prol do bebè’ suite by his friend Villa Lobos. I cannot say that Daniel did that because he played a programme of master works which he nurtured,caressed,savaged and seduced in a programme where Beethoven’s much neglected op 54 Sonata was played ‘quasi una fantasia’ that I had not been aware of until today as maybe even Beethoven had not realised with what fantasy he had imbued this two movement sonata. But there we were today with a sonata of such fantasy and kaleidoscopic sense of colour and chameleonic sense of character that it took Daniel today to reveal it’s true character . The capricious opening motif that erupts all through a movement that is rudely interrupted by Beethovens irascible temperament was followed by a perpetuum mobile ‘Allegretto’ that Daniel ignited with a rhythmic energy that was breathtaking .
It was by no means the poor bed fellow of the ‘Appassionata’which also received a performance where Beethoven’s markings had been remarkably reproduced but above all the temperament behind the notes had been hypnotically characterised with a rhythmic intensity that I have only heard the like from Serkin. I had bumped into Daniel after the recital of Giordano Buondonno in Perivale ……https://christopheraxworthymusiccommentary.com/2022/06/20/giordano-buondonno-crystalline-clarity-and-mastery-at-st-marys/. He had come to try the piano a week before his concert.In fact as Curzon famously said a great pianist is 90 % work and 10% talent. That 10% is God given and God has been very generous to Daniel as he was with Curzon.
Schumann: Toccata in C Op 7
A quite extraordinary performance of Schumann’s Toccata in which his sense of legato was more astonishing than his transcendental control of the obstacles that Schumann throws into the path of pianists who dare attempt the technical hurdles that abound in this early work.Suddenly one was aware of the wonderful romantic harmonies and overall architectural shape before even contemplating the technical mastery that could allow this to happen.
Beethoven: Sonata in F minor Op 57 ‘Appassionata’ Allegro assai / Andante con moto / Allegro ma non troppo
The ‘Appassionata’in which Beethovens indications were scrupulously observed.Even the seemingly awkward arpeggios were played with the struggle that Beethoven intended and not simplified into a pianistic juggling act ! Extraordinary to watch Daniel’s cat like movements ready to pounce with his body in continual almost imperceptible motion depending on which way the music was to unfold.It was the same cat like movements of Peter Frankl with the Kelemen Quartet playing in the Liszt Academy in Budapest last winter.One was aware of music making of the ‘old school’ the one that listens to every sound and is ready to respond in a musical conversation that is a continual voyage of discovery. https://christopheraxworthymusiccommentary.com/2021/11/27/peter-the-great-peter-frankl-with-the-kelemen-quartet-in-budapest/ Daniel is a graduate of the Liszt Academy so could it be that the genial tentacles of Liszt are still very much in the air?
Schubert: Drei Klavierstucke D 946 (1 in E flat minor, 2 in E flat major, 3 in C major)
A very long programme that Schnabel would have boasted that the difference between his programmes and those of his colleagues was that his were a hundred per cent boring. So after Beethoven op 54 and 57 a Schumann Toccata as light relief we were rewarded with Schubert’s Drei Klavierstucke played with a sense of style and subtle beauty that rather than being an over zealous intellectual enterprise was a ray of wonder where such beauty could quite happily have lasted even longer.
Now as I am struggling with internet in the depths of the Italian countryside I am happy to add my first impressions having been able to listen to the recital in sporadic moments where the air waves had taken second place to the the glorious waves of the Mediterranean.
I had a feeling that even Daniel had enjoyed the experience of sharing these masterworks with such a discerning audience and that he would gladly have added a minute or two more to it. Dr Mather being our genial host but also referee had realised that we had gone into overtime .. ………..and so a return match is inevitable and awaited with great joy.
In 2014 Daniel Lebhardt won 1st Prize at the Young Concert Artists International auditions in Paris and New York. A year later he was invited to record music by Bartók for Decca and in 2016 won the “Geoffrey Tozer Most Promising Pianist” prize at the Sydney International Competition. In 2018 he has been signed for commercial management by Askonas Holt. March 2020 saw Daniel make his debut with The Hallé, performing Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No 5 – a work he has also performed at the Barbican, London and Symphony Hall, Birmingham. The last two concert seasons have also witnessed recital debuts in Dublin and Kiev, and at the Lucerne International, Tallinn International and Miami International Piano festivals. He has received reinvitations to Wigmore Hall, London, the Auditorium du Louvre, Paris and Merkin Concert Hall in New York (‘He brought narrative sweep and youthful abandon to [Liszt’s B minor Sonata], along with power, poetry and formidable technique’ – The New York Times). Other recent highlights include a return to Paris for a recital at L’Église Saint-Germain-des-Près, as part of the festival ‘Un week-end à l’Est’; an appearance as soloist in Mozart’s Piano Concerto No 21 at the Royal Festival Hall, London; and tours in China, South America and the USA. Born in Hungary, Daniel studied at the Franz Liszt Academy in Budapest with István Gulyás and Gyöngyi Keveházi, then with Pascal Nemirovski at the Royal Academy of Music and Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. He was a prizewinner at the Young Classical Artists Trust auditions in 2015 and currently lives in Birmingham.
Having heard recently this young Italian pianist in the Solti studio I was very glad to be able to listen again not only to the Ravel and Scriabin but to hear also two works by Chopin in place of the previous Brahms Ballades op 10.These works of Chopin,Brahms and Ravel were all works that were immortalised by the legendary fellow Italian:Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli.
In the Solti studio he had the privilege to play on the Fabbrini Steinway ‘D’ piano that had once belonged to the Italian master.Wherever Michelangeli played there would be Angelo Fabbrini to insure that the piano had been fine tuned and in perfect running order like the racing cars that he also liked to fine tune himself and to drive as fast as possible.There was such a close relationship between Fabbrini and the Maestro that Michelangeli became the Godfather to his children.Often I would queue up a month in advance in London for tickets to hear the great masters like Rubinstein,Richter or Michelangeli .Michelangeli would regularly cancel at the last minute if he thought the conditions were not right for the piano and he could not produce the sounds that were ingrained in his being.Nothing less than pianistic perfection was possible!I never got to hear Michelangeli in London but I did hear him once in the Vatican City in Rome.The videos of his performances have become classics and his first recording of the Bach Chaconne has remained with me ever since .Watching and listening to Giordano again especially in this repertoire reminded me so much of the crystalline clarity and chiselled precision of Michelangeli.A pianist that listens to himself with such scientific care is indeed a very special artist.Giordano hardly moving but watching like a hawk about to pounce as his long fingers etched out the sounds with such crystalline clarity.One could see him pointing to the keys before striking the note,with his head down in total concentration on the sounds he wanted those fingers to make as they landed full centre on the note.I have written recently about his Scriabin and Ravel that he also played today on this fine Yamaha piano,playing with the same precision and clarity that he had on Michelangeli’s own Steinway.’Ondine’ was even more memorable today than it had been in the Solti Studio.His remarkable sense of balance allowed the water nymph to flit in and out of the flowing waters without ever for a second being overwhelmed by the enormous amount of notes that Ravel adds to his score.The desolation of Le Gibet was even more terrifying for its austere clarity and absolute control of sound.Scarbo was played with transcendental control and sense of drive in a work that Ravel wrote of such extraordinary difficulty putting to the test any pianist who could dare play it after Balakirev’s Islamey.There were no such problems for Giordano who etched out with clarity and precision the antics of the diabolical Scarbo.Scriabin too he played with ravishing colours and sense of balance.The end of the first movement suddenly becoming alive as the romantic outpourings of the second movement swept across the keyboard.
His encore of ‘Black Earth’ by Fazil Say had Dr Mather a little alarmed as he saw Giordano placing his hands inside the piano to mute the strings to make a drum like effect.(I remember being asked by Stockhausen if he could use my Steinway instead of the rather inferior piano that had been brought in especially for a performance of his 12 Klavierstucke …….How could I say no ? I did specify though that it should only be used by two hands and two feet in the traditional manner).However there was no need to worry about the sounds that Giordano manage to evoke from the piano.They were as unexpected as they were extraordinary,playing with the same precision and seriousness that had been a hallmark of the entire recital
Italian pianist Giordano Buondonno graduated from the Giacomo Puccini Conservatoire with Honours, receiving the highest mark in his class, and completed his MMus with Distinction in 2021 at Trinity Laban Conservatoire, London.. He is studying for an Artist Diploma under the guidance of Sergio De Simone and Deniz Gelenbe. Giordano is a proud recipient of The Leverhulme Arts Scholarship, the Jaqueline Williams Scholarship and the Arthur Haynes Scholarship for his studies at Trinity Laban. At the age of 19, he won first prize at the Clara Schumann Competition and performed for the Piano City Festival in Milan. He also came first in the PianoLink Concerto Competition, playing Chopin’s First Piano Concerto with the PianoLink Philarmonic Orchestra in Milan. Giordano’s performance highlights include a recital at Steinway Hall London, King’s Place Hall, and a recital at Henley Park Manor in Surrey, for His Serene Highness Prince Donatus von Hohenzollern; representing Trinity Laban as a finalist at the 2019 Beethoven Society Intercollegiate Piano Competition; the Sheepdrove Intercollegiate Piano Competition, the Young Artist concert series organised by Roma Tre Orchestra, South Hill Park Arts Centre in the International Conservatoire series, Paganiniano Festival in Italy, the Old Royal Naval College, St. Alfege Church and St. James’s Piccadilly in London.
Some masterly playing from two musicians with celebrated careers that now in their Indian summer have chosen to share together with us their inestimable experience and profound understanding of music.Playing as one where their musical minds and intelligence combined in an exhilarating afternoon of music making at its purist and most enjoyable.No mean feat as Dr Mather pointed out after an hour listening to music making of rare humility,modesty but above all ‘joie de vivre.’As Schubert titles one of his rondos :”Nostre amitié est invariable”.There was the absolute clarity of J.C Bach where Allan Shiller’s ornaments glistened like jewels.Charm and beauty were the hallmark of Schubert’s Andante varié D 823 n.2 – the second of three pieces that make up the ‘Divertissement sur des motifs originaux francais’ – which John Humphrey’s puts on the same level as his celebrated Fantasy in F minor.Playing of great sensitivity where John’s care of balance and superb use of pedal allowed Schubert’s mellifluous outpouring to sing out unimpeded by any hard or ugly sounds.In fact music just poured from their four hands and two feet!There was grandeur in the Mozart with perfect synchronisation between the four hands – after 50 years it is the least one could expect! But there was much much more besides!As Dr Mather said at the end we look forward to celebrating the next fifty!Hugh who had heard Allan when they were both children over sixty five years ago!Allan of course was one of the many child prodigy’s that came under the spell of the indomitable Dame Fanny Waterman.
I had not realised that Allan had gone on to study with Guido Agosti in Italy which goes a long way to explain his intelligent musical pedigree.I used to play four hands with Agosti for eight hours a day whilst our wives spent a peaceful day on the beach!Agosti was never happy away from the piano.We would prepare a concert for them in the evening after supper.
It was the same spirit of friendship and relaxed music making that made today so poignant and special.The Ravel Mother Goose can she ever have sounded so contented and ready to share all her ravishing secrets with us.
A superb ensemble of transcendental control from both players and glissandi at the end that were like a silver lining to the almost religious chorale of peace and Elgarian importance of Ravel’s Jardin Féerique.Three Slavonic dances by Dvorak were played with rhythmic intensity and beguiling gypsy freedom.The simplicity and beauty they brought to the four Ländler by Schubert played as an encore just summed up the elegance and humility of the Hausmusik that we had been allowed to eavesdrop on all afternoon .
Allan Schiller and John Humphreys have been playing as a piano duo since 1972 and in 2022 will be celebrating their 50th anniversary with appearances throughout the UK, ending with a recital at Wigmore Hall on Saturday 25th June .They have recorded Busoni and Schubert for Naxos and on 26th January 2006 were invited by Wigmore Hall to present a recital on the 250th anniversary of Mozart’s birth. In addition to BBC Radio 3 broadcasts they have played throughout the UK and more recently have played in Iceland.
Allan Schiller is widely regarded as one of the UK’s finest pianists. Born in Leeds he studied initially with Fanny Waterman making his debut at the age of ten with the Halle Orchestra under Sir John Barbirolli. He later studied with Denis Matthews and became the first British pianist to be awarded a scholarship to study at the Moscow Conservatoire. After further study under Guido Agosti in Italy he returned to this country and rapidly established a reputation as one of the most exciting pianists of his generation with solo appearances throughout the country and concerto performances with all the major UK orchestras and the BBC Symphony Orchestras. He has made countless broadcasts for BBC Radio 3 and recorded a number of highly regarded cds.
John Humphreys was born in Liverpool and studied with Henryk Mierowski and later with Harold Rubens at the Royal Academy of Music. In 1967 he was awarded one of four scholarships by the Austrian Government to study in Vienna and on his return to this country made his Wigmore Hall debut in 1972 with Busoni’s rarely heard ‘Fantasia Contrappuntistica’. Since then he has appeared throughout the country as soloist, accompanist and chamber musician. In 1975 he performed the cycle of Mozart piano sonatas in London and elsewhere and has given many performances of Bach’s ‘Goldberg Variations’. John was Assistant Head of Keyboard Studies at Birmingham Conservatoire until 2009. He is also Chairman and Artistic Advisor to the Dudley International Piano Competition. In 1998 he was awarded the ARAM for ‘his distinguished contribution to music’.
Fantastic George Fu coming to the rescue at 48 hours notice . A lesson in beauty and seduction and a charmer on and off the stage where his love for music is irrepressible as it is irresistible. Harvard ,Curtis and Royal Academy have given him much but the spirit and joy of sharing music is his birthright.Beguiling,sensuous and intelligence added to a transcendental command of the instrument combine in an unforgettable musical experience of joy and exhilaration.
What better way to celebrate the platinum Jubilee of our much loved Queen. We send all best wishes to Thomas Kelly who had to cancel all his engagements due to what we hope is only a temporary indisposition
Some beautiful musicianly playing of great intelligence with a near scrupulous attention to the composers intentions.A programme of two master works from the Romantic piano repertoire.It was though in the Scriabin Waltz op 38 played as an encore that she suddenly found the improvised freedom that had been lacking in her exemplary but over respectful performances.In her beautiful playing of Schumann and Chopin she had been searching for a deeper meaning and expression but sometimes loosing sight of the overall architectural shape.Trees of ravishing beauty where the confines were not clearly enough defined.
Eleonor Wong and Norma Fisher are two teachers of enormous musical stature.Eleonor was a highly respected student in her final year at the Royal Academy under Frederick (Freddie) Jackson,a much respected musician who died conducting the Verdi Requiem in the RAM Dukes Hall.I was in my first year and was very much in awe of her and her sister Linda.Eleonor would often ask me if she could play through her programmes that she was preparing for competitions.I was always so overcome by her musical and pianistic perfection in performances of Schumann Kinderscenen,Mozart C minor Sonata or Beethoven op 110 that I like to think that my unbounded enthusiasm evidently gave her the courage to go on and win many important International competitions .Her teacher had recently awarded me the Liszt Scholarship and it was my teacher Sidney Harrison who took me to the Wigmore Hall to hear his star student Norma Fisher giving a recital in the prestigious London Piano Series.I felt almost as proud as he did as he presented me to her as the new Liszt Scholar after a wonderful recital.I still remember to this day her performances of Brahms Handel Variations ,Chopin Berceuse and Debussy studies. https://christopheraxworthymusiccommentary.com/2022/05/12/norma-fisher-at-steinway-hall-the-bbc-recordings-on-wings-of-song-the-story-continues/
So it is a small world where now half a century later I listen to a pupil of both Eleonor and Norma.Gordon Green,my second teacher at the RAM would cheekily say two Wongs do not necessarily make a right!An innocent remark from one of the most loved and respected teachers of his day.In this case dear Gordon they do!There was great beauty in Wae Yuen’s playing with never an ugly or ungrateful sound.If she loved the music too much is that really a bad thing?Scriabin liberated her of all her inhibitions and left her free as a bird to soar to the heights where her superb technique and musicianship can really take her.
Davidsbündlertänze (Dances of the League of David),op.6 is a group of eighteen pieces composed in 1837 by Schumann who named them after his music society Davidsbundler.The low opus number is misleading: as it was written after Carnaval op.9 and the Symphonic Studies op 13 .His early piano works were influenced by his relationship with Clara Wieck as he wrote to his former professor: “She was practically my sole motivation for writing the Davidsbündlertänze, the Concerto, the Sonata and the Novellettes.” They are an expression of his passionate love, anxieties, longings, visions, dreams and fantasies.The theme of the Davidsbündlertänze is based on a mazurka by Clara Wieckand these intimate character pieces are his most personal work. In 1838, Schumann told Clara that the Dances contained “many wedding thoughts” and that “the story is an entire Polterabend – a German wedding eve party, during which old crockery is smashed to bring good luck”.18 characteristic pieces or musical discussions about contemporary music between Schumann’s characters Florestan and Eusebius. These represent the impetuous and the lyrical, poetic sides of Schumann’s nature. Each piece is ascribed to one or both of them. Their names follow the first piece and the appropriate initial or initials follow each of the others except the sixteenth (which leads directly into the seventeenth) and the ninth and eighteenth, which are respectively preceded by the following remarks: “Here Florestan made an end, and his lips quivered painfully”, and “Quite superfluously Eusebius remarked as follows: but all the time great bliss spoke from his eyes.”The suite ends with the striking of twelve low C’s to signify the coming of midnight.The first edition is preceded by the following epigraph: In each and every age joy and sorrow are mingled: Remain pious in joy, and be ready for sorrow with courage.
Chopin Piano Sonata No. 3 in B minor,op .58, is the last of his piano sonatas and was completed in 1844, only five years before his death,and is the only one to finish in a major key.
Born in Hong Kong, Wai Yuen Wong graduated from the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, Music department under Professor Eleanor Wong, Artist-in- residence. While followed Miss Juile Kuok at younger age. She is now studying the Master Degree of the Royal College of Music, under Professor Norma Fisher.She has won many overseas and local music competition prizes: Concerto trial prize with the the HKAPA orchestra, the 2nd prize at the International Piano Competition for Young Musicians, Enschede of the Netherlands. The 3rd Prize in the 1st Korea International Competition for Young Pianists, the First Prize and Professional Grand Prize at the 75th Steinway & Sons International Youth Piano Competition and was invited to perform at “The International Steinway Art Festival ” held in Hamburg, Germany. She was also awarded the First Prize at the 65th Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod in Wales, UK. In addition to holding recitals in Hamburg, Beijing and Xiamen, she also performed the “Magic Piano & The Chopin Shorts” and “Beyond Impressionism” at the 42nd and 46th Hong Kong Arts Festival respectively.She was awarded a Certificate of Commendation by the Hong Kong Government in recognition of her outstanding achievements in the promotion of international arts and culture activities.
The Ballades, Op. 10, are dated 1854 and were dedicated by Brahms to his friend Julius Otto Grimm.Their composition coincided with the beginning of the composer’s lifelong affection for Clara Schumann who was helping Brahms launch his career.The four ballades are arranged in two pairs of two, the members of each pair being in parallel keys. The first ballade was inspired by a Scottish poem “Edward ” found in a collection Stimmen der Völker in ihren Liedern compiled by Johann Gottfried Herder. It’s open fifths, octaves, and simple triadic harmonies are supposed to evoke the sense of a mythological past.
D minor. Andante
D major. Andante
B minor. Intermezzo. Allegro
B major. Andante con moto
Brahms returned to the wordless ballade form in writing the third of the Six pieces op.118.His Op. 75 vocal duets titled “Ballads and Romances” include a setting of the poem “Edward”—the same that inspired Op. 10, No. 1.
Chopin wrote his 24 Préludes op 28 between 1835 and 1839, partly at Valldemossa Mallorca where he spent the winter of 1838–39 and where he had fled with George Sand and her children to escape the damp Paris weather.In Majorca, Chopin had a copy of Bach’s 48 , and as in each of Bach’s two sets of preludes and fugues , his Op. 28 set comprises a complete cycle of the major and minor keys, albeit with a different ordering.The brevity and apparent lack of formal structure in the Op. 28 set caused some consternation among critics at the time of their publication.No prelude is longer than 90 bars (No. 17), and the shortest (No. 7) is ca. 45 sec. and No. 9 is a mere 12 bars (but 1m25s). Schumann said: “they are sketches, beginnings of études or, so to speak, ruins, individual eagle pinions, all disorder and wild confusions.”Liszt’s opinion, however, was more positive: “Chopin’s Preludes are compositions of an order entirely apart… they are poetic preludes, analogous to those of a great contemporary poet, who cradles the soul in golden dreams…”
Multi-award-winning pianist Amit Yahav is much in demand as a recitalist, chamber musician and concerto soloist, having earned his reputation for interpretations that grip and move audiences with passion and intellectual insight. His interpretations of the music of Chopin and Schumann in particular have received high praise. In 2018, he earned a Doctor of Music degree from the Royal College of Music for his thesis investigating interpretation in the music of Chopin. Amongst Amit’s success are the Anthony Lindsay Piano Prize and the György Solti Award for Professional Development. Amit also won the 1st International Israeli Music Competition in London and consequently performed Israeli composer Zvi Avni’s On the Verge of Time in London’s Southbank Centre in the presence of the composer. In 2014, Amit attracted much positive attention with his CD “Amit Yahav Plays Chopin“, containing the four Ballades. This release followed Amit’s tour showcasing the four Ballades in an explained recital, which was also selected by the Royal College of Music as part of their Insight Series of soirees offered to their donors. Most recently, his newest disc featuring Romantic piano fantasies by Mendelssohn, Schumann and Chopin appeared on the GENUIN label.
Fascinating to hear master and ex pupil playing completely unknown works for piano duet by Mendelssohn ,Rubinstein and Liszt . Leslie Howard and the Sienese pianist Ludovico Troncanetti are fresh from their two piano tour of Italy.
If it was a bit of a tight squeeze in Perivale today on one piano but it was a small price to pay to hear a monumental work by Anton Rubinstein for the first time. Rubinstein was the founder of the St Petersburg Conservatory whose younger brother Nikolai founded the Moscow Conservatory.He wrote 5 Piano Concertos,6 Symphonies,20 Operas and much else but all that we remember these days is his Melody in F and really not even that after the passing of Cherkassky! Leslie Howard is a tireless promoter of the neglected works of Liszt ,Rubinstein and others.His 100 CD ‘s of the complete works of Liszt has entered the Guinness Book of records and his series of 10 Wigmore recitals of Liszt has gone down in legend.
No stopping the intellectual curiosity of a young Australian pianist who Guido Agosti,a disciple of Busoni- a pupil of Liszt,took under his wing in Siena sixty years ago!
Two pieces from the first part of Liszt’s Oratorio Christus -written in Rome-were but candles shining brightly on a cake ready to be savoured and enjoyed after too many years in oblivion.
The piano duo Troncanetti-Howard was born in 2016 making its debut at the Teatro dei Rinnovati in Siena in October of the same year. It is formed by Leslie Howard, internationally acclaimed pianist, musicologist and composer, best known for being the only pianist to have recorded the complete solo piano works of Franz Liszt, a project which included more than 300 premiere recordings and more than 99 CDs, and Ludovico Troncanetti, italian international concert pianist and former pupil of Howard himself through whom he also met the music of Anton Rubinstein of whom he now makes himself the standard-bearer in the world .
They have performed in the most prestigious festivals and concert halls of Italy, Russia, Portugal, India etc offering a variety of programmes including some remarkably fine rarities as well as a rich selection from the great masters both four-handed and two pianos.
They gave the italian première of the gargantuan Fantasy for two pianos by Anton Rubinstein in 2018 and in April 2019 in India the world première of a marvellous set of concert variations for 2 pianos from an unpublished Liszt’s manuscript: Grandes Variations de concert sur un thème des Puritains, S654.
Sasha is not well known for his loquaciousness so it was surprising to see him take the microphone and talk to the public in Cranleigh and indirectly to the world via their excellent streaming .A public that had flocked to support the appeal for his fellow countrymen in the Ukraine who have suffered so unjustly from the zealous greed of a despot.
Stephen Dennison and his colleagues at Cranleigh Arts were only too happy to be able show their support for one of their favourite musicians in his crusade for his homeland.
Music is the world that Sasha inhabits as all those that have followed his illustrious career know.Within that rather timid exterior there is an internal fire that ignites the moment he sits at the piano.Now his offence at the unjust occupation of his homeland and I expect encouraged by his recent marriage to Katya Gorbatiouk have opened a door where he feels that his music together with a few carefully placed words can help create funds to alleviate the physical suffering of the people in the Ukraine.Sasha was one of the first to dedicate himself to the Ukraine relief fund in a concert organised by his friends at the immensely welcoming home of Bob Boas and his wife.
A concert that took even Sasha by surprise for the support that it had inspired.He has since dedicated his performances to the Ukraine Relief Fund via the Ukrainian Embassy where he explained every penny of the help offered was used to alleviate some of the immediate suffering.https://www.withukraine.org/
Little did we know,except for close friends,that Sasha’s parents had fled the bombs of Kiev putting whatever they could in their car as they sought refuge in Poland.Sasha flew to Cracow to meet them and drive them in a long and difficult journey to refuge in the UK.Many days passed without any news until we discovered that they had been given refuge in a community in the English countryside!It reminds me of a similar journey that Rosalyn Tureck undertook as she boarded the luxurious Queen Elisabeth II from Spain back to her home in New York.She knew her Indian Summer in Europe had come to an end after many years,as her cancer that had lain dormant suddenly sprang to life.She arrived back in New York on 9/11!There was no way of communicating with a city that had been so viciously raped by terrorists and we feared the worst for our beloved Rosalyn.Of course it would have taken more than a few terrorists to keep Rosalyn down and when at last communications were open we learnt that she had arrived in her final abode in Riverdale overlooking the Hudson where she was shortly able to join the sublime world of her adored J.S.B.Not necessarily the same thing but the war of terrorism and the siege of the Ukraine are they not acts of war – unjustifiable as all war must be!
It was interesting to hear that the opening work by Liszt had been dedicated to Anton Rubinstein and that the closing work by Balakirev had been dedicated to Nikolai Rubinstein,his younger brother .Scriabin in trying to master the monstrous difficulties of Islamey had been forced into a period of retirement from the concert platform.I well remember Sasha’s intelligent way of programming works into a unified whole.His Wigmore Hall recital too some years ago he opened and closed with a very atmospheric piece by Arvo Part that opened our ears and taste buds as it drew us in to a programme in which we could overhear works by Mozart and Gulda.
Variations on “Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen,” S. 180 is one of Franz Liszt’s most significant but understudied piano works. Written after Liszt joined the Third Order of Saint Francis and during a time of deep personal tragedy, this composition reflects both Liszt’s religious journey and his coping with suffering and shows daring explorations of chromaticism that pushed the limits of tonality. It was arranged for organ one year after the piano version was composed and became one of his best-known compositions for organ.The Variations on “Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen,” S.180 was written in 1862 when Liszt settled in Rome.It was published by Schlesinger in Berlin two years later. Liszt dedicated it to Anton Rubinstein who unfortunately never performed it in public.Liszt performed it in a festival at Hanover in April of 1875 and is the first record of the public performance of this music. Liszt performed it again in May of 1876.Both performances have no recorded reaction from audiences, but based on Liszt’s self- mockery in his master class of 1885, it could be speculated that the piece was not well- received: In the master class, after August Stradal played the Variations on “Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen,” S.180, Liszt said: “If you want a bad criticism, you must play this. It will then be said: ‘the young artist is not lacking in talent —- it remains only to regret that he made such a poor choice of piece.’The organ version appeared in 1863 .”Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen,” S.180 is probably Liszt’s most important set of variations. He composed a prelude on the theme three years earlier which could be seen as a preparation for this work.The chromatic theme of the variations was taken from Bach’s Cantata No. 12 and also used for the Crucifixus of Bach’s mass in B minor. Liszt also used the final chorale “Was Gott tut, das ist wohlgetan” as the ending section. It is one of the most masterly and ambitious works of Liszt’s third compositional period.While it is an outstanding work, it was not accepted or admired by the musicians of Liszt’s time because of its innovativeness.
Islamey: Oriental Fantasy Op. 18, by Mily Balakirov was written in 1869 The great New York critic Harold Schonberg said it was “at one time…considered the most difficult of all piano pieces and is still one of the knucklebusters.”It has had a lasting influence on piano solo music; Ravel once remarked to a friend that his goal in writing Gaspard de la nuit was to compose a piece that was “more difficult than Balakirev’s Islamey.” This turned out to be Scarbo, the third piece in the suite.Balakirev, a committed nationalist whose music was influenced by Russian traditions, was inspired to write the piece after a trip to the Caucasus ,as he relates in a letter: :…the majestic beauty of luxuriant nature there and the beauty of the inhabitants that harmonises with it – all these things together made a deep impression on me… Since I interested myself in the vocal music there, I made the acquaintance of a Circassian prince, who frequently came to me and played folk tunes on his instrument, that was something like a violin. One of them, called Islamey, a dance-tune, pleased me extraordinarily and with a view to the work I had in mind on Tamara I began to arrange it for the piano. The second theme was communicated to me in Moscow by an Armenian actor, who came from the Crimea and is, as he assured me, well known among the Crimean Tatars. (Letter to Eduard Reiss (1851–1911), 1892) .Balakirev, considered a virtuoso pianist in his time, once admitted that there were passages in the piece that he “couldn’t manage.” In fact it was Nikolai Rubinstein who premiered the work .In addition, Scriabin seriously damaged his right hand fanatically practicing the piece along with Liszt’s Don Juan Fantasie.
Born in Kiev, Ukraine, Sasha Grynyuk was awarded a scholarship to continue his music studies at the Guildhall School of Music in London. There he was awarded the Gold Medal – the school’s most prestigious award. He currently benefits from the artistic guidance of Noretta Conci-Leech, the founder of the Keyboard Trust. Sasha has performed around the world in many major venues including Barbican Hall, Royal Festival Hall, Wigmore Hall, Wiener Konzerthaus, Weill Recital Hall (Carnegie Hall) and Teatro Real. With orchestras including: Bergen Philharmonic, Royal Philharmonic, Brazil National Orchestra, Ukraine National Symphony.Sasha has won many awards, such as first prizes at the Grieg International Piano Competition in Norway and the BNDES International Piano Competition in Brazil. His recording of music by Gould and Gulda for Piano Classics was chosen as the record of the month for the Piano News magazine and shortlisted for the New York Classical Radio.