Playing of beauty and intelligence but also passionate intensity and delicacy.A continual outpouring of contrasts of crystalline playing of great clarity and precision.I had first heard Menyang in the Rina Sala Gallo competition in Monza in 2012 and it was her top prize winning performance of the Emperor Concerto that I remember so well.It was Beethoven that opened her programme today – the first of the final trilogy that Beethoven wrote towards the end of his life .Here was the same crystalline purity of her playing .Notable was her scrupulous attention to the composers markings and the intensity that lies behind the notes at the moment of creation.This sense of improvisation or discovery gave a freshness to all that she did.From the mellifluous opening of op 109 where even the moments of grandiloquence were merely momentary interruptions of a continuous flow of golden sounds.There was great contrast with the rhythmic energy of the Prestissimo but there was also a clarity that allowed the music to continually evolve as it moved relentlessly to the final chords.There was rich beauty and depth of sound to the theme on which Beethoven’s variations develope.The simplicity and beauty of the first variation and the subtle lightness of the second was contrasted by the rhythmic precision and dexterity of the third and the gradual languid unwinding of the theme in the fourth.The call to arms of the fifth was played with precision and energy before its total disintegration as the theme points ever more on high.Passionate outbursts reveal a celestial serenity where the theme emerges chiselled with bell like clarity over a rumbling bass.Some superb playing of control and technical assurance that allowed the genial vision of Beethoven’s last thoughts to shine through with disarming simplicity and beauty.The final reappearance of the theme was played with the same intensity as his last great quartets.
There were enormous sonorities at the opening of Liszt’s Funerailles .It is the 7th of Liszt’s Harmonies poétiques et Religieuses (Poetic and Religious Harmonies).It was an elegy written in October 1849 in response to the crushing of the Hungarian Revolution of 1848 by the Habsburgs.It is subtitled “October 1849” and has often been interpreted as a sort of funeral speech for Liszt’s friend Chopin,who died on 17 October 1849, and also due to the fact that the piece’s left-hand octaves are closely related to the central section of Chopin’s “Heroic” Polonaise op 53 written seven years earlier.However, Liszt said that it was not written with Chopin in mind, but was instead meant as a tribute to three of his friends who suffered in the failed Hungarian uprising against Habsburg rule in 1848.The sonorities that Mengyang found were in startling contrast to the late Beethoven that had preceded it.The deep resonance of the bass funeral March contrasted with the beauty and delicacy of the melodic line as it moved into the treble leading to a passionate climax of sumptuous sounds.There was quite astonishing power and virtuosity as the cavalry moved in and Mengyang brought the work to a truly tumultuous climax before allowing it to dissolve to a mere whisper.An extraordinary performance of power and beauty,delicacy and control but above all a poetic vision of remarkable communication.
The Fantasies, Op. 116 for solo piano were composed by Johannes Brahms in the Austrian town of Bad Ischl during the summer of 1892 and consists of seven pieces entitled Capriccio or Intermezzo, though Brahms originally considered using “Notturno” for No. 4 and “Intermezzo” for No. 7. The last number, like the first, is a stormy D minor capriccio; while at the centre of the collection stand three intermezzos in E major and minor which together may be construed as a form of slow movement.There was grandeur and sumptuous full sounds that contrasted with the contemplative and luminous sounds of a deeply heartfelt lament.A passionate outpouring of notes in the Capriccio in G minor with a sumptuous middle section of almost orchestral proportions.The few poignant notes of the Intermezzo in E were of searing beauty and introspection until a sudden ray of sunlight unexpectedly shines through.There was the questioning of the intermezzo in E minor and the languid chorale of the Intermezzo in E with the ravishing beauty of the melodic middle section .Finishing with the passion and explosive emotions of the Capriccio in D minor.
Mengyang Pan was born in China and has been living in the UK since 2000. She began her piano study at the age of three before becoming a junior student at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing. At the age of 14, she left China to study at the Purcell School in the UK with professor Tessa Nicholson. Upon graduating with high honours, she went on to complete her musical education at the Royal College of Music training under professor Gordon Fergus-Thompson and Professor Vanessa Latarche.The prize winner of many competitions including Rina Sala Gallo International Piano competition, Bromsgrove International Young Musician’s Platform, Dudley International Piano Competition, Norah Sands Award, MBF Educational Award, Mengyang has performed in many prestigious venues such as the Royal Festival Hall, Wigmore Hall, Cadogan Hall, Bridgewater Hall and Birmingham Symphony Hall amongst many others. As soloist, Mengyang has appeared with many orchestras and her collaboration with conductors such as Maestro Vladimir Ashkenazy, John Wilson and Mikk Murdvee has gained the highest acclaim. Mengyang also finds much joy in teaching. In 2019, Mengyang was appointed piano professor at the Royal College of Music in London, she also teaches at Imperial College.
‘Phenomenal’ was how Dr Hugh Mather described Luke Jones recital as he arrived at the 30 anniversary celebrations of the Keyboard Trust at the National Liberal Club a few hours later. https://christopheraxworthymusiccommentary.com/2022/09/14/the-gift-of-life-the-keyboard-trust-at-30/. By coincidence Luke Jones had been invited by the Keyboard Trust to play on Ischia for the Walton Foundation.Two recitals with just one day to get from the island off Naples to Perivale.All this whilst Luke was setting up a new home in Bath with many household problems still to resolve.I had heard from Ischia of the enthusiastic audiences in his two afternoon recitals there and hearing such enthusiasm from Perivale I was very anxious to be able to enjoy the recital myself.Luckily Perivale have superb recording facilities and often I have even preferred listening in the comfort of my home in Italy.A deeply felt dedication to our beloved Queen with a minute’s silence before the concert was so delicately offered – the Queen just a few hours later would be passing by Perivale on her final journey back to London.
A transcription by Rachmaninov of three movements from Bach’s violin Partita n. 3 opened the programme with an astonishing luminosity of sound and range of colour allied to an irresistible driving energy.There was grandeur mixed with joy in the Prelude followed by a Gavotte of delicacy and beguiling charm.A subtle flexibility that one might call rubato which was part of a long architectural line with beautiful rich counterpoints and sense of fantasy.It was followed by the busy weaving of the Gigue in a performance of mastery and style.
Ravel’s Sonatine was hauntingly beautiful as it floated on a stream of liquid sounds of ravishing beauty.A moderato of languid refined cantabile of great weight with notes sparkling like stars of such subtle brilliance.A Menuet of aristocratic poise with a nostalgic atmosphere full of magic colours with a beautiful ending of infinite sensitivity .An Animé that was a torrent of golden sounds with a superb build up to the final outburst and the mellifluous final bars.A performance of style and refined taste with a kaleidoscopic sense of colour that just added to the overall shape of this masterpiece of concision and perfection.
The first set of Etudes op 10 by Chopin are usually considered more brilliant and less poetic that the second op 25 .That was certainly not the case in the hands of the poet of the piano that we heard today.With the transcendental difficulties of the studies that Luke played so fearlessly it was the poetry and style he gave to the studies that made each one a jewel not only of precision but of shape and colour .Taking all the time needed to shape a phrase with loving care whilst throwing off the hair raising difficulties with an apparent ease where musical and poetic considerations were his only concern.The slow third and sixth studies were played with real aristocratic style where the music was allowed to sing out with seeming simplicity.
The third that even Chopin exclaimed :”Never in my life have I been able to find again so beautiful a melody,”was played with such good taste and style with the middle episode just growing so naturally out of the opening melodic line.There was subtle beauty to the Scriabinesque sixth study of which even Godowsky had made a magical transcription for the left hand alone of this hauntingly nostalgic melody that he added continuous arabesques to.But with Chopin’s own notes alone Luke had us hanging on to each note as he shaped the melodic line with poetic vision where there was no room for any embellishments.The simplicity and poetic beauty spoke so much more eloquently.It was the great bass melody in the first study that Luke shaped like a true musician with the cascades of notes in the right hand just accompanying the majestic outpouring of the melodic line.If the second could have had a little more charm – I remember Smeterlin’s unforgettable performance years ago in the Festival Hall – the silk like legato and jewel like perfection Luke gave to this study was remarkable,especially considering that like Liszt’s Feux Follets this is a study for the chosen few!
There was a rude awakening with the fourth.Rubinstein even in his 90th year would astonish us with his passionate drive,even standing up towards the end as the excitement mounted to fever pitch.Luke is a long way from Rubinstein’s veteran years but he brought the same excitement and drive with astonishing brilliance and control.There followed the so called ‘Black Key’ study (Myra Hess would astonish and amuse her audiences as she came on with an orange and two carrots to play it ).Luke with just ten fingers gave beautiful shape to the cascades of notes with a scintillating display of jeux perlé.The final octave flourish thrown off with nonchalant ease and a final note that was just the end of a long phrase not the usual triumphant bang!What a sensitive musician this young man is!There was fleeting agility in the seventh like a butterfly hovering over the keys with the beauty of the tenor melody just hinted at with such delicacy.The reams of sparkling right hand notes in the eighth were just accompanying the left hand melodic line with real artistry.The ninth study was played with a subtle rubato of great beauty where the melodic line was allowed to speak with a powerful timeless effect.Chopin’s very complicated phrasing in the tenth was translated into an outpouring of mellifluous sounds – virtuosity at the service of poetry.The arpeggio study of number eleven was almost too slow as the melodic line was allowed to sing as it unwound with such legato and fluidity with a cheeky ending just thrown off with ease before the final torrential gates were opened .The ‘Revolutionary’ study op 10 n.12 was played with passion and fire but always with a perfect sense of balance where the melodic line was shaped with an architectural shape in mind and Chopin’s contrasts were nobly presented with breathtaking audacity.Rarely have I heard a performance of these studies of such noble musicianship and poetry.It was indeed ‘phenomenal’ to quote Dr Mather and extraordinarily uplifting to hear this fine student be transformed into an artist of such poetic vision.
There was a clarity of line amidst the torrent of notes that Prokofiev fires at us from the very opening of this single movement sonata.A crack if the whip and with great athleticism but also startling character the sonata unfolds with rhythmic drive.Playful and lyrical but also demonic and dynamic.There were moments of great delicacy but always with this undercurrent of energy like water about to boil over at a hundred degrees.A remarkable display of scintillating excitement with a kaleidoscopic range of sound.Boiling point reached with breathtaking exhilaration.
Quoting Gustav Mahler :’Tradition is not the worship of ashes but the preservation of fire’ it describes so precisely the exhilaration and recreation that were the hallmark of Luke’s performances today
Luke Jones is a Welsh pianist. Originally from Wrexham in North Wales, he started playing the piano at the age of 5 and made his debut recital at Oriel Wrecsam aged 10. Since then he has performed all over Britain in venues such as Bridgewater Hall – Manchester, Eaton Square – London, St. David’s Hall – Cardiff, Bradshaw Hall – Birmingham, Pump Room – Bath, St. George’s – Bristol etc. He has also performed in France (Salle Cortot – Paris), Italy, Luxembourg (Philharmonie de Luxembourg), Austria (Wienersaal – Salzburg), Spain (Palau de la Musica Catalana – Barcelona), Majorca and Slovenia and has won prizes in competitions around Europe notably 2nd Prize and Mompou Prize at the prestigious Maria Canals International Piano Competition, 1st Prize at the Bromsgrove International Musicians Competition, 1st Prize in “Aci Bertoncelj” International Piano Competition, Slovenia. 1st Prize in “Section A” Chopin-Roma International Piano Competition, Italy, and 3rd Prize in the Manchester International Concerto Competition, UK. Luke was also awarded the RNCM Gold Medal, the college’s highest award for Performance. Furthermore, he has had broadcasts of his performances on BBC Wales Radio, S4C Television, Radio Vaticana and Telepace in Italy.
He has performed with orchestras such as BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Manchester Camerata, Orchestra of the Swan and Jove Orquestra Nacional de Catalunya. At the age of 5 he studied with Eva Warren, and then at the age of 8 began studying with concert pianist Andrew Wilde. Subsequently at the age of 11 he was awarded a place at Chetham’s School of Music where he studied under the Head of Keyboard, Murray McLachlan from 2006-2013. Between 2013-2015 he studied at Conservatorio di Musica ‘Lorenzo Perosi’ Campobasso under the guidance of Mº Carlo Grante. Since 2015, he has studied under the tutelage of Prof. Dina Parakhina at the RNCM, where he completed his Bachelor’s Degree with First Class Honours and Master’s Degree with Distinction. Luke has been fortunate to have had masterclasses/lessons with notable pianists such as Kathryn Stott, Leslie Howard, Vladimir Tropp, Jean-Efflam Bavouzet, Bernard Roberts, Hamish Milne, Peter Donohoe, Stephen Hough, Llyr Williams, David Wilde and Philippe Cassard.
‘If musik be the food of love………play on ‘ as Dr Moritz von Bredow reminded us in his brief words of thanks to Noretta and John Leech.For it is their great love not only for each other but of music that with vision and determination they have shared with innumerable young artists.Sharing with them a sense of duty,humility and integrity that gives weight and meaning to their artistry.A maturity that is born ‘on wings of song ‘ as Maestro Pappano so eloquently pointed out.
But it was the reverential minute of silence at 7 o’clock broken only by the magic strains of the Aria from the ‘Goldberg Variations’ that spoke louder than any words.Sir Antonio Pappano playing with exquisite luminous sound,the repeats allowed to whisper as he just seemed to dust the keys allowing the genius of Bach to cast a spell on this distinguished gathering.As Maestro Pappano was to say in his short speech after listening to six of the finest young musicians from the Keyboard Trust:the variety of sounds that can be produced from this black box of hammers and strings is remarkable.Technical proficiency and mastery aside it is the difference of sound and character that each one brought to the same instrument that is remarkable.
To quote from the ‘little red book’ masterminded by the indomitable John Leech is a message from Sir Antonio Pappano the honorary Patron and opens this ‘bible’ and sets the scene for all that lies within.
“‘The Gift of Music’ is a love story in the best operatic tradition:Love of music above all.Love and determination to create a unique gift to hand to those you hold dear.Love and compassion for those born to make music but unable to find their proper role.How well I know the plot of this book,having been captured by it myself years ago.Even on the threshold of the Trust’s fourth decade the story remains compelling,strong enough and relevant to be carried forward to create a brighter future for us all.Guidance,patience,vision and opportunity have come together so that an astonishing number of musicians have been able to flourish under the wing of The Keyboard Trust.Long May it endure!”
Never more so than this evening where the crystalline sounds and mastery of style of Leslie Howard were immediately in evidence.What better title could there be than ‘Mes joies’,as an enticing web of golden sounds were spun by a true master.Hardly moving but with concentration focused on every note ,so reminiscent of Rubinstein in his later years where all the flamboyance and showmanship of his ‘youthful years’ had been condensed into the very notes themselves .Seated as in a favourite armchair allowing us to share the wonder of discovery as every note had a significance and meaning.Rosalyn Tureck once said to me when one of her friends commented that at the age of 78 she had given a note perfect performance of the Goldberg variations:’But,darling I don’t play wrong notes ‘.Of course the meaning was far from that of note picking proficiency but that every note belonged to a chain that created the whole architectural shape dedicated to Bach’s genius .Moura Lympany too,from the Matthay school,spoke of thinking of chains that she linked together.https://christopheraxworthymusiccommentary.com/2022/02/16/leslie-howard-masterclass-at-the-r-c-m-scholarship-and-mastery-shared/.
They were mirrored by the rich velvet sonorities of great intensity of Jayson Gilham with Medtner’s ‘Stimmungsbilder op 1 n.1’.A sumptuous performance on this magnificent Steinway ‘D’ which allowed the winner of the Montreal International Competition to show the subtle strands and hidden melodic lines of a still neglected composer who is buried in Hendon Cemetery.Before his success in Montreal Jayson had played in our series of all the Rachmaninov works for piano and orchestra that the KT was invited to give in Rossini’s home town of Pesaro.He gave a remarkable performance of the fourth concerto in the uncut original version on the recommendation of Leslie Howard.He learnt it especially for the occasion and was able to give three impeccable performances in Ancona,Pesaro and Fabriano. https://christopheraxworthymusiccommentary.com/2015/05/26/rachmaninoff-festival-ancona-2015/
Leslie Howard was proud to present the winner of the 2021 Weir Trust,Oscar Colliar,who is in his second year as Organ Scholar in Cambridge.He gave a very musicianly account of great clarity and shape of June and November from Tchaikovsky’s ‘The Seasons’.
This was followed by all the passion and fire of Pablo Rossi with a performance of ‘Widmung’ of burning intensity and Villa Lobos’s scintillating ‘0 Polichinelle’ .A work that Artur Rubinstein would often play and it was with his same sense of communication that he enflamed his audience.Joan Chissell had said ‘Mr Rubinstein turned baubles into gems ‘ Pablo was the first pianist I had heard in 2005 when Noretta seeking to console and distract me with music after the dramatic events of my life,invited me in to Steinway Hall to hear this young boy from Brazil.He was the first of many artists that I was able to invite to play in Rome and from then on the concert activity in our theatre in Rome became ever more entwined with the activity of the Keyboard Trust.(This is all explained more fully in the ‘red book’). Sixteen years on,after his studies in Moscow with Eliso Virsaladze (on the advice of Noretta ) and with Jerome Rose in New York we can now hear how this young Rubinstein look alike ‘could mature in music ‘ – to use Pappano’s own very eloquent words – and not only look like the great master but have the same power of communication allied to a professional training that will carry him into the great concert halls of the world https://christopheraxworthymusiccommentary.com/2022/07/30/pablo-rossi-a-star-shining-brightly-for-brazil-200/
Michail Lifits,winner of the 57th Busoni Competition ( a competition that Noretta has frequented every year since the very first edition in 1949 when her great friend and now trustee of the KCT,Alfred Brendel was awarded 4th Prize!) Mischa was also recipient of the KCT Annual prize winners concert at the Wigmore Hall in 2011 having completed KCT tours in USA,Italy and even Mexico.I heard him in 2013 in the beautiful Auditorium in Foligno and was immediately struck not only by the beauty of sound but the kaleidoscopic colours he found in the Rachmaninov Corelli Variations.Now with a flourishing career and newly appointed Professor at the Franz Liszt University in Weimar he flew in especially to pay homage to two people that he is much indebted to in so many ways.His performance of the much overplayed Chopin First Ballade was a revelation on how such a work can come alive as new in the hands of a true artist.The authority and clarity of thought ,the aristocratic architectural vision was masterly and had me wanting to check the score once again to relive the magic that had allowed him to bring new life to such a masterpiece.
There would have been many encores had we heard a performance of that stature in the concert hall but tonight we were called to order by our Chairman Geoffrey Shindler and our indefatigable Chief executive Sarah Biggs.Stop watch in hand it is thanks to them that the evening in The National Liberal Club ran so smoothly with caos all around as London was about to welcome our beloved Queen back home on her last great journey.
Chloe,teenage winner of both the Geneva and Busoni International competitions (the only other pianist to do that was Martha Argerich) ,flew in especially for this celebration from her adopted home in Salzburg.The rarified perfection and fluidity of her playing created an enormous effect in her all to short appearance playing only ‘Reflets dans l’eau’.Only! It was a true jewel of ravishing voluptuous sounds from extreme delicacy to passionate abandon.I accompanied Chloe on the American tour where I could witness the bond with her audiences of a true artist as she looked with dagger like concentration at the notes but then wafting on with the same genial simplicity of Martha Argerich.Elena Vorotko,our co artistic director,was in tears after her performance of Beethoven’s penultimate sonata op 110 at her prize winner’s Wigmore recital in June 2017.I implored her to play the 14th of Schumann’s Davidsbundler but there was a complicity between her and Sarah that I could not budge.It is here in this link to the performance she gave in Poland this summer: https://christopheraxworthymusiccommentary.com/2022/08/12/chloe-mun-at-the-duszniki-chopin-festival-refined-perfection-and-aristocratic-simplicity/
Vitaly Pisarenko,winner of the Utrecht Liszt Competition at the age of 20 and a top prize winner at Leeds in 2015.With a worldwide career opening up and now a much sought after teacher at the Purcell School for highly gifted young performers and as assistant Professor to his much admired mentor Dmitri Alexeev at the Royal College of Music.I am glad to see that there is a poster in the ‘red book’ in which the KCT were invited to Aquila in Italy in 2013 to spend a weekend sharing youthful enthusiasm and bringing much needed distraction and relief to a community that had been so cruelly struck down by an earthquake.Noretta’s dear friend Claudio Abbado gave the first concert in a hall that had be newly donated by the people of Trento and constructed by the walls of a city that lay in ruins.Mey Yi Foo,Pablo Rossi and Vitaly Pisarenko were chosen to represent three different nations by Noretta and John following in Abbado’s footsteps in bring the Gift of Music to an oppressed community.Bringing all the youthful spirit of hope and enthusiasm that these three young artists had in abundance.Fabbrini ( Pollini’s piano technician had donated the piano -Pollini too a close friend of Noretta).
It was when this young Ukrainian pianist touched the piano in a ravishing performance of Siloti’s Prelude in B minor that Noretta and I looked at each other and it was love at first hearing.A pianist of such simplicity but of such refined playing of sounds that rarely others can reach.Playing of an intelligence and the aristocratic sense of style of another age -The Golden Age of piano playing.This was ten years ago in which time Vitaly has played every tour and venue of the KCT including the Wigmore Hall.The great accompanist Graham Johnson insisted on going back stage in the interval to meet the man who could turn a piano that he knew only too well into a magic box or rarified sounds with Ravel’s Miroirs.It had Graham running to Cadogan Hall a few months later to hear his Ravel G major Concerto.’Gretchen am Spinnrade’ was played with such subtlety and rarified sounds from the barely audible to the most enormous sonorities of refined passion ……and then back again.Gretchen at her wheel still whispering in the distance with playing of incredible precision at a level of pianissimo that I have only ever heard from Richter.
The great pianists are not those that play the fastest and loudest but it is those dedicated few that can play the quietest with total control.A mastery that requires total dedication.Vitaly’s unique artistry is gradually being discovered by a public who realise that it is quality not quantity that reaches the soul.A very classical performance of Liszt’s capricious play on Schubert’s Soirées de Vienne was admirable for its pianistic perfection but it was Gretchen that will haunt me for a long time to come!https://christopheraxworthymusiccommentary.com/2021/09/13/bewitched-and-amazed-by-vitaly-pisarenko-in-colombia/
Sasha Grynyuk was born in Kyiv and now lives in London where he won the Gold Medal at the Guildhall and went on to win a considerable number of International Competitions including the Grieg in Bergen.Every Friday will see him at the mews of Noretta and John,a new score in hand.John waiting until the end of their musical session to be instructed on computer literacy or whatever other hi jinks are the latest fashion.They have befriended him in his hour of need as his parents fled the Ukraine only able to fill a car with belongings knowing full well they may never see their homeland again.Sasha flew to Cracow to meet them and drive them back to the Oxfordshire countryside where they have found refuge.Sasha recently found happiness too ,much to the delight of Noretta and John, in the arms of the extraordinary Katya Gorbatiouk.
All this to say that Sasha is like a son to John and Noretta and a rock on which they can rely in moments of uncertainty.He is not only a wonderful human being but also a remarkable pianist who leaves Noretta astonished every week with his mastery of all the Beethoven sonatas and Concertos and many other things besides.One of these being one of the most transcendentally difficult show pieces for piano by Balakirev .His famous Islamey op 18 that strikes terror into all those that dare to trespass.Ravel even tried to out do him in writing Scarbo – the last of his suite Gaspard de La Nuit.A work that Noretta’s own mentor Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli has left his own indelible mark in historic recordings.
To sit down from cold and burst into Islamey is a feat in itself.It would normally come as the icing on the cake after a long recital programme.However orders were orders and if Islamey exceeds the allotted five minutes it certainly could not be preceded by even the shortest of pieces.Little did we know that whilst Sasha was conquering his Everest her majesty the Queen was passing by below.A scintillating performance that just missed the wild abandon and depth of sound that Sasha would normally regale us with.Sasha’s prize winner’s Wigmore in 2013 opened and closed with a magical piece by Arvo Part that gave an overall shape to a container of Mozart,Beethoven and Gulda and made me aware of what an extraordinary artist he was.Bryce Morrison,the distinguished critic and pianophile, played me a while back a recording and asked me to guess who it was.A scintillating display of classical music in jazz idiom that was quite breathtaking in its audacity – it was Play Gulda with Sasha Grynyuk!Sasha has dedicated himself tirelessly to helping his co nationals by arranging and giving benefit concerts for the Ukrainian relief fund.https://christopheraxworthymusiccommentary.com/2022/06/10/sasha-grynyuk-at-cranleigh-arts-for-ukraine-joint-fundraiser-for-the-disasters-emergency-committee-and-cranleigh-arts/
And so we were coming to the end of this extraordinary evening that was described as a book launch but I think we were all aware that it was much more than that.
Elena spoke of the formation of the Historical Instrument Section of the KCT which she has been responsible for creating and has already helped reach recognition artists such as Jean Rondeau.This activity is progressing with extraordinary rapidity as there was obviously the same need of creating a bridge between young artists and their potential public.The KCT could not have been more poetically described than by Moritz von Bredow or so clearly expressed by Geoffrey Shindler.Our chairman looking to the future as John and Noretta have always done saluting our loyal and indispensable donors and thanking them all and delighted in seeing them honoured in the pages of the book.
It is to the book we return for the final comment from one of the greatest musicians of our time now in his 100th year.Menahem Pressler was moved to write an introduction that could have not been clearer or more to the point :’The young artists entering the orbit of Noretta and John,having been carefully selected ,are nurtured and advised according to their individual needs,repertoire is chosen with great care and they become part of a big family.This is truly a love affair,and the story of its birth and development so beautifully told by John Leech in ‘The Gift of Music’ is a wonderful read.
P.S.The last words most go to John and Noretta who write :
‘Last night was an overwhelming display of musical ability, colour – and affection: a moving review of what our labours with the Keyboard Trust have meant to young lives – as well as our own.
But as the night wore on, other qualities were called into play by the momentous events that were changing the structure of the city around us. Noretta and I had to wait for a solicitous police vehicle to escort us out of the forest of barricades. Sarah, Richard, Pablo, Moritz and Sasha nobly deployed to the compass points more likely to bear a stray cab, even under by then streaming rain.
When eventually one was found, the heavy police presence had to approve access and clear the way. By this time most of the barricades were already in place, and the final leg of the mercy mission had to be negotiated on a heavily laden police transport. Effusive thanks are due to all those involved in this midnighht mission. It was the kind of effort that friends might well make; last night, against the background of royal mourning and teeming rain it acquired an almost symbolic significance.
The degrees of sadness and selflessness shown by all our friends and company were certainly worthy both of the occasion and its profoundly historic background. All of us were conscious of the passage of great events, modestly accompanied by our small event of personal significance.
With our glowing thanks to all our friends, for last night’s acts of heroism as well as over the last 30 years,
Noretta and John, with love.’
The last word must be from the master himself penned just before midnight last night …….no pumpkins for John or Noretta!
Perfection fired by genius! Completeness beautifully etched, the whole story rounded, the affection clearly displayed on its sleeve. What a remarkable story, most expertly recounted – without an ending, but measuring its beating pulse!Viva! Viva! Vivat the Spirit of Music!!!
Thank you, Chris, for showing us how vigorous that Spirit is still becoming!
Great celebrations at the end of a recital of ravishing sounds . Has the piano ever shimmered and glistened today in an outpouring of luminous sounds as in the hands of the French Canadian Elisabeth Pion? An eclectic programme of works rarely if ever heard in concert.
A shimmering ‘Song for the piano’ by Fanny Mendelssohn. Certainly not like her brother’s’ without words ‘ but a beautifully flowing work of eloquence,passion and charm .It was played with a sumptuous sense of balance and was a prelude to Beethoven’s own favourite amongst his sonatas -the little ‘A Thérèse’ op. 78 -Beethoven’s calm before the storm!And if it could have been played with more respectful solidity the jeux perlé in her hands flowed so naturally from Mendelssohn to Beethoven with such intelligence and real musicianship that I began to wonder that perhaps Beethoven had more charm and colour than I had previously been aware of. A technical assurance that made her colleagues blush as they only just about made this early start to support a much admired friend.
Amazing atmospheric ‘Berceuse ‘ by Adès with its quite extraordinary final explosion and disappearance to oblivion amongst the remains of wondrous vibrations after an almost Messiaenic opening . An extraordinary work that with Stevenson’s Grimes is a real addition to the piano repertoire . Gretchen was spinning her web long before Elisabeth opened the magic door so we could overhear her haunting voice.The water too flowed so mellifluously from this artists hands that it came as a shock the sudden attack of the Erlkonig. A technical command of the keyboard with a kaleidoscope of sounds where music was allowed to pour out of her hands with such authority and delicacy. It made me think about the remarkable Canadian school of playing of Lortie,Hammelin,Hewitt,Fialkowska,Kimura Parker,Liu or Chen taking over the realm of Gould . Elisabeth too belongs to this quite extraordinary school that is rarely mentioned but is gradually dominating the musical scene.
What to say of the beauty of the studies of De Montgeroult . Of course we all bow to Chopin op 25 where the technical problems of the studies are disguised by the poetic content.Almost ‘canons covered in flowers’ here too as Schumann described the Mazurkas. Of course the last utterances of Debussy,the Etudes his final masterpiece for piano,were inherited from a composer whose works he had edited with such love and dedication. Today this young Canadian pointed us in the direction of the composer,De Montgeroult,I have hardly ever come across before except in her own recital in Perivale a year ago.Studies covered with flowers indeed.
Or Bonis’s ‘Women of legend’ . Seven portraits from Mélisande to Omphale all played with ravishing ease and character. Or Dutilleux’s ‘Au gré des ondes’ where the French charm and purity of sound were so reminiscent of Poulenc. It was though the passionate abandon of Debussy’s portrait of an Island in ‘L’isle Joyeuse’ that made me want to revisit Eastbourne and Jersey that were his inspiration .Maybe I did not look hard enough,as a child,and certainly not with the poetic vision of a genius. A memorable morning of discovery and seduction in Milton Court with her mentor Ronan o’Hora and all the friends she has made over the past few years.
Present to cheer her on as she reaches the peak of Gradus ad Parnassum on a long journey of discovery that she will share with a waiting world. Realms of Gold indeed ! Bon voyage !
Mélanie Hélène Bonis, known as Mel Bonis (21 January 1858 – 18 March 1937), was a prolific French late-Romantic composer. She wrote more than 300 pieces, including works for piano solo and four hands, organ pieces, chamber music, mélodies, choral music, a mass, and works for orchestra. She attended the Paris Conservatoire,where her teachers included Cesar Franck.In 1874, at the age of sixteen, she began her studies at the Conservatoire, and attended classes in accompaniment, harmony, and composition, where she shared the benches with Debussy and Pierné.
She met and fell in love with Amédée Landély Hettich (5 February 1856 – 5 April 1937),a student, poet, and singer, setting some of his poems to music. Her parents disapproved of the match and withdrew her from the Conservatoire.In 1883, when she was twenty-five, they arranged for her to marry the businessman Albert Domange.After settling into domestic life and having three children she met Hettich again who persuaded her to return to composition.She wrote more than 300 pieces, including works for piano solo and four hands, organ pieces, chamber music, mélodies, choral music, a mass, and works for orchestra.
Hélène de Nervo de Montgeroult (2 March 1764 – 20 May 1836) was a French pianist and composer.
She was born into an aristocratic family in Lyon and studied piano with Hullmandel and Dussek.She married the Marquis de Montgeroult who died as an Austrian prisoner in 1793.Reportedly it was respect for her compositions that allowed her to survive the French Reign of Terror.A set of improvisations on La Marseillaise , performed for the Committee of Public Safety, earned de Montgeroult her freedom after she was imprisoned in the Revolution due to her aristocratic background.After her husband’s death, Montgeroult took a position at the new Paris Conservatoire in 1795, the first female professor ever to be appointed there and taught for two years. Afterwards she published two volumes of music.She died in Florence, Italy.
CHARLES FRANCIS has already established his talent in the organ world while still an undergraduate at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, studying under Daniel Moult and Nicholas Wierne. He is Organ Scholar at St Philip’s, Birmingham and also deputises at other English cathedrals. His adoption by the Keyboard Trust will open further opportunities in the UK and abroad, such as this recital in the Summer Organ Festival Young Artist Platform at Westminster Abbey on Sunday August 7 2022.
Westminster Abbey is a .’Royal Peculiar’, meaning that it is under the direct jurisdiction of the monarch. It dates from AD 960 and the current building was in place by the end of the 14th century; ‘a pair of organs’ was recorded as early as 1304. The current organ was installed for the Coronation of George VI in 1937 using the pipes and case from an earlier instrument by William Hill. Further development in the late 20th century added a fifth manual and a Bombarde to give extra support to congregational singing. The organ today matches this ancient foundation in power and stature.
Cavaille-Coll organ at St Sulpice
Charles chose to open his recital by unleashing the full power of the instrument in the first movement of Widor’s Symphony no 5 in F minor, Op 42 no 1. The name ‘Symphony’ comes as a result of his lifelong association with the Romantic organ builder Aristide Cavaille-Coll who built the magnificent organ at St Sulpice in Paris where Widor was organist for 63 years. The Andante Vivace is a set of variations in which Charles demonstrated a highly developed sense of timbre and carefully graded dynamics.
We then heard the Organ Concerto in C BWV 595 by Johann Sebastian Bach which comes from the period of Bach’s transcriptions early in his career before taking up his post at the Thomaskirche in Leipzig. This single movement concerto is a transcription of a work by Bach’s then employer, Prince Johann Ernst of Saxe-Weimar. Charles chose a tempo that allowed the audience to appreciate the clarity of the concerto form with strong ritornelli and bold colours in the solo sections.
A pedal piano
Charles returned to the 19th century for Innig, the fourth of Six Studies in Canonic Form Op 56 by Schumann, written in 1845. Robert and Clara had purchased a pedal piano for their home to enable organ practice to take place there. This coincided with Schumann’s Fugenpassion… a period when he explored counterpoint. Far from being earthbound and academic, this piece is light and airborne: an unhurried tempo took us into the world of Schumann’s love songs, where instead of the canons marching stiffly one behind the other, they played together…
The recital closed with Hubert Parry’s dramatic Fantasia and Fugue in G Op 188 bringing full-blown Romanticism full circle. Parry dedicated it to ‘my dear friend Walter Parratt’. Not known today, Parratt was a child prodigy who played Bach’s 48 Preludes and Fugues from memory at the age of ten! He rose to become Master of the Queen’s Musick to Queen Victoria, Edward VII and George V. The musical language of Parry’s famous ceremonial pieces – the Coronation Anthem ‘I Was Glad’ and ‘Jerusalem’ – is not typical of his vast output, which draws on his many influences: the English oratorio tradition, and his great love of German music from Bach through to Mendelssohn and Wagner. Writing for the leading virtuoso organist of his day challenged Parry to musical brilliance, heard in the flourishes that sweep the full range of the instrument in the Fantasia; the Fugue subject, always clearly heard throughout the contrapuntal working, explodes into the final cadence, prompting applause and shouts from the large and appreciative audience.
What a musical journey we had in a 30-minute recital! Technical brilliance is plentiful today but other qualities set Charles Francis apart. He has a clear, uncompromising concept of what the music has to say and how to communicate it. Spacious tempi and rubati may approach the audacious but always serve the music. He reaches out to the audience with great clarity of line which allows the organ to sing. As his youthful figure appeared above the Westminster Abbey screen to receive the delighted applause, my mind travelled back to 1679 when the 20-year-old Henry Purcell took over as Organist. Britain has a proud history of organ brilliance and in Charles Francis the future is in safe hands.
ANGELA RANSLEY, Director of the Harmony School of Pianoforte. Angela works closely with the Keyboard Trust and also as a freelance organist..
What better way to spend lunchtime than in the company of Beethoven in such intelligent and artistic hands. With all the office workers scrambling for some street food in the market that surrounds St James’s Piccadilly.Little could they guess what real nourishment lay inside one of the most atmospheric churches in London. The scene is set for a Hitchcock film but instead we got two of Beethoven’s most intense chamber works. A pianist who spun a magic web on which the clarinet and cello were happy to wallow and converse The clarinet trio played with a buoyancy and joie de vivre of the young Beethoven.The clarinet giving a living sheen to the sumptuous golden sounds from the piano and cello. What a contrast with the late Beethoven cello sonata where the weight and dark introspection contrasted with the knotty twine of the final fugato.
The Piano Trio in B flat op 11 is in three movements :Allegro con brio – Adagio – Tema con variazioni:Allegretto. It was composed by Beethoven in 1797 and published in Vienna the next year It is one of a series of early chamber works , many involving woodwind instruments because of their popularity and novelty at the time. The trio is scored for piano,clarinet (or violin ) and cello (sometimes replaced by bassoon ).
The key of B flat was probably chosen to facilitate fast passages in the B-flat clarinet, which had not yet benefited from the development of modern key systems.The work is also sometimes known by the nickname “Gassenhauer Trio”. This arose from its third movement which contains nine variations on a theme from the then popular dramma giocoso L’amor marinaro ossia Il corsaro (15 October 1797, Wiener Hoftheater )by Joseph Weigl. This particular melody, “Pria ch’io l’impegno” (“Before I go to work”), was so popular it could be heard in many of Vienna’s lanes (“Gasse” in German). A “Gassenhauer” usually denotes a (normally simple) tune that many people (in the Gassen) have taken up and sing or whistle for themselves, the tune as such having become rather independent from its compositional origins.
L.van Beethoven Sonata for Cello and Piano No.5 in D-major, Op.102 No.2 Allegro con brio – Adagio con molto sentimento d’affetto -Attacca – Allegro – Allegro Fugato
The two sonatas op.102 were composed between May and December 1815 During the period 1812 to 1817 Beethoven, ailing and overcome by all sorts of difficulties, experienced a period of literal and figurative silence as his deafness became overwhelmingly profound and his productivity diminished.Following seven years after the A Major Sonata n.3 ,the complexity of their composition and their visionary character marks (which they share with the subsequently completed piano sonata op 101 ) the start of Beethoven’s ‘third period’A critic of the time said:’They elicit the most unexpected and unusual reactions, not only by their form but by the use of the piano as well…We have never been able to warm up to the two sonatas; but these compositions are perhaps a necessary link in the chain of Beethoven’s works in order to lead us there where the steady hand of the maestro wanted to lead us.’
Hariet Wu obtained her Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree from Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. Hariet was privileged to be under the tutelage of Anthony Pay, Michael Harris, and Mark O’brien during her time studying at RBC. Born in Taipei, Taiwan. Hariet was invited to join Steven Barta’s clarinet workshop (professor of Peabody Conservatory & principal clarinet at Baltimore Symphony orchestra) and was awarded a full scholarship by Wayland University (TX, USA) to study music in clarinet performance prior to her studies in the UK. Hariet was invited to perform as a guest performer at the 2005 Birmingham Chamber Music Festival. She has been playing in the Moment Musical Chamber Orchestra (Taiwan) since 2006. Hariet has been an active music festival and concert organiser during her time in Taiwan. She is also an experienced music educator and researcher. Her Master’s research topic focused on the correlations between instrumental practice and the enhancement of neurophysiological, mental, and social enhancement. She is currently researching the topic of music psychology: the behavioural changes induced by musical training.
Melody Lin (Cello) is dedicated to the insightful, sensitive and enthusiastic performance of both solo and chamber music. She was awarded a fully-funded scholarship to attend Trinity Laban Conservatoire for an MA degree and has completed a funded Bachelor’s degree from the Royal College of Music. She has studied under internationally recognised musicians including Richard Lester, Michael Reynolds, and Ling-Yi Ouyang. Melody’s recent solo recitals include the Royal Society of Musicians, St-Martin-in-the-fields, Wolfson College of Cambridge University, St James’s Piccadilly and the London Cello Society “Go Cello!” opening concert. Melody has been awarded a joint winner at the Vera Kantrovich Competition. She was the winner of the Leonard Smith & Felicity Young Duo Competition in 2018. Her chamber projects include the Mellanie Piano Trio, supported by the Concordia Foundation and the Melart Duo, with pianist Artur Haftman, supported by the Polish Music Society and toured Poland in 2016.Melody was a member of the 2019 Southbank Sinfonia, and currently freelancing amongst professional orchestras, including Bournemouth Symphony and a trial position with The Hallé. She plays on a cello by the Klotz family from the late 18th century, generously supported by professor Derek Aviss.
Damir Durmanovic (Piano).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. In 2021 he released an album with the Ulysses Arts label.Damir is supported by the Keyboard Charitable Trust as well as the Talent Unlimited Scheme. He is a graduate from the Royal College of Music where he studied with Dmitri Alexeev.
A personal chronicle from 5th October 2021 to 25th August 2022
by Christopher Axworthy, Keyboard Trust Co-Artistic Director and Trustee
The new season opened on the 5th October with a celebration concert in the Cunard Hall in Trafalgar Square now the distinguished ‘Sala Brazil’ of the Brazilian Embassy.The 200th anniversary of Brazil and the 30th of the Keyboard Trust and a celebration concert of four star pianists from the KCT stable.George Fu played music by Nepomuceno and the Saudades do Brasil by Milhaud ;Simone Tavoni played Bachianas Brasileiras n 4 by Villa Lobos ;Thomas Kelly the Sonata n.1 by Mignone and Sasha Grynyuk the monumental Rudepoema by Villa Lobos.
On the 11th October Alexander Ullman gave another brilliant Wigmore Hall recital – his first was the KCT Prize winners concert a few years ago.Consolidating his highly acclaimed first CD.His second was issued recently of the Two Liszt Piano Concertos and the Sonata in B minor.
The Keyboard Trust anxious to give performing possibilities to young musicians silenced by the pandemic were fortunate in having a new performing venue in London thanks to our administrator Richard Thomas who is the organist and music director of St Matthews Church in Ealing and on the 13th October two female artists were invited to perform in the Young Artist’s Series that was recorded for later streaming to a larger audience.Ivelina Krasteva from Bulgaria and Milda Daunoraite from Lithuania
On the 20th October we were able to invite one of the finest Italian pianists of his generation to give a recital to a still limited audience at Steinway Hall.Giovanni Bertolazzi gave thrilling performances of the Liszt B minor Sonata (that he too has just recorded for Borgato pianos one of the longest and finest of Italian pianos) together with Rachmaninov 2nd Sonata (1931). https://christopheraxworthymusiccommentary.com/2022/02/15/giovanni-bertolazzi-in-london/
On the 31st October Maxim Kinasov gave a recital in Adbaston St Michael and all Angels he had played for us on the 29th September in Steinway Hall.Pauline Savage writes:’I’d like to start by saying how much I enjoyed Maxim’s concert – not just the programme ,but the depth of feeling that came across in his performance.It was a memorable experience.Thank you again for the support of the Keyboard Trust, enabling us to hold concerts which would otherwise be right out of our league.’
Mariam Batsashvili gave two recitals in Cottbus State Theatre on the 6th and 7th November John Gumbell writes:’One further aspect of the Cottbus experience that I omitted to report. When we went back stage after the concert to meet and thank Mariam, Fernanda and I were accompanied by two Georgian singers from the theatre’s opera company who delighted in chatting with a compatriot in their native tongue. While they were doing so, I couldn’t help noting the diminutive physical stature of all three of them, which made the power of Mariam’s delivery at the keyboard all the more astonishing. We felt humbled and privileged to be in the presence of such a force of nature – a keyboard lioness indeed! – but one whose warmth of personality also shone through every note.’
In Steinway Hall on the 17 November Emanuil Ivanov was invited to play as his KCT Career prize for the top prize winner of the Busoni Competition in Bolzano 2019. Noretta Conci has played an important part since it inception in 1949.
On the 9th February Elia Cecino gave a recital in Steinway Hall.Only 21 years old is already making a name for himself in Italy and recently won first prize in the 28th New Orleans International Piano Competition in Louisiana.
On the 24th February two events one in Florence with CrIstian Sandrin playing the Beethoven Trilogy and Evelyne Beresowsky standing at very short notice for Alexander Ullman at the Danish Academy for Roma 3 University .
On the 2nd March Roman Korsyakov,the winner of the 2019 Hastings International Concerto Competition played for the Pharos Shoe Factory Arts Centre in Nicosia.His belated winners concert with the RPO at last took place November 2021 due to the Pandemic.
Yvonne Georgiadou,artistic director writes:’Roman is a superb pianist,and a lovely person.He performed a great programme consisting of Schumann’s Kreisleriana,Prokofiev’s First Sonata,the Tchaikovsky Sonata and Scriabin Preludes.He was amazing in everything he performed,not only technically but also stylistically-he started as a force of nature,in the explosive Prokofiev Sonata ,demonstrated his technical soundness in the contrasting pieces pieces of Kreisleriana,soulful tenderness in the Scriabin,and so much passion- yet clockwork precision- in the Grand Sonata .He gave the recital in a full house,and the appreciative audience (which included the ambassadors of the USA,Germany and Italy) called him back on stage for three encores- then we realised how wonderful he is in Scarlatti too!!He has so much personality in his playing,healthy confidence combined with humbleness.He is unique!’
We are all shattered by what is happening now in Ukraine. Eastern Mediterranean has always been troubled with wars and bloodshed, and I admit that war always upsets me but I am extremely shocked by the international reaction against innocent Russian civilians, be it artists, athletes, even cats… As if it is their fault. The people of Cyprus treated Roman with respect and love, and he was extremely polite and intelligent towards people who asked him questions about the situation afterwards. He is generally an extremely friendly and fun guy, with lovable personality. I have no doubt that he will have a great career ahead – if he is presented with the opportunities he deserves. And we will of course be delighted to host him again to Cyprus in the future.https://christopheraxworthymusiccommentary.com/2021/11/12/roman-kosyakov-hastings-prize-winners- concert-with-the-rpo-at-cadogan-hall-under-kevin-john-edusei/
Organised by our Sasha Grynyuk on the 11th March was one of the first concerts to create relief funds for Ukrainian refugees forced to flee their country because of the ambitious machinations of a despot – of course Roman was by the side of Sasha as were many other musicians
His parents had fled Ukraine whilst bombs were flying taking with them a car full of worldly possessions as their son flew to Cracow to escort them to safety in the Oxford countryside.Anna Fedorova has organised at least 30 such concerts culminating in a special sold out Promenade concert
We were all very proud to,see such solidarity by our musicians and friends.In particular Dr Peter Barritt in Shrewsbury -‘Welcome to the Shrewsbury International Piano Recital website. Each year, we invite young international classical pianists to perform paid recitals to help their early careers. We have been greatly helped in this by the Keyboard Charitable Trust, particularly Christopher Axworthy, who represents this fine organisation that supports the most accomplished young classical pianists by arranging concert performances throughout the world.Dinara’s recital raised £1231 once matched. Pietro’s recital raised £2200 (£4,400 matched) and Nikita raised £2000 (£4000 matched)’
On the 9th March at Steinway Hall Andrea Molteni surprised us with a transcendental performance of Beethoven’s mighty Hammerklavier Sonata op 106 that was recorded for eventual streaming
On the 9th April Elia Cecino stood in for an indisposed Can Arisoy at the historic Laeiszhalle in Hamburg .Sabina Oroshi writes:’The concert was great, such a success – the audience adored Elia. I hope he is as satisfied as we are, it was great working with him.
On the 13th May Nicola Losito played at the Orangery Castle Rheda .Inge Joskleigrewe writes :’It was a great pleasure for all of us to experience Nicolas’ great concert . His performance was really extraordinaire! And Moritz really found the absolute right words in his report.’ Moritz von Bredow wrote this report: https://christopheraxworthymusiccommentary.com/2022/09/03/moritz-losito-review/
On the 27 June Jonathan Ferrucci played at St Jude’s Prom in Hampstead.The chairman John Clegg writes :’ On behalf of all of us at Proms, can I please ask you to pass on our warmest thanks to Jonathan Ferrucci for his wonderful lunchtime piano recital at this year’s festival. It was a pleasure to meet him and his playing was much appreciated by the audience. We are also hugely grateful to the Keyboard Charitable Trust for supporting the concert.’
On the 3rd July Simone Tavoni played his long postponed recital in Spoleto in Menotti’s House in the main square overlooking the Cathedral thanks to the collaboration with Umberto Jacopo Laureti
and another concert on the 25th August in France in a new festival :Un Piano sous Les Arbres.
Simone writes:’The concert went really well with an encore and standing ovation at the end.I was really pleased by the atmosphere.There were around 150 people maybe 200 with people who remained outside because there were no tickets left but you could still hear out of the building.’ https://unpianosouslesarbres.com/
On the 7th August Charles Francis gave a recital in Westminster Abbey .Sarah Biggs writes :’The Abbey was full – and the audience very appreciative and enthusiastic. I tried to find Peter Holder at the end to thank him but missed him in the melee. I am guessing at his email address but, if it’s incorrect, please could you thank him so much from all of us for hosting it so beautifully? And thank YOU, too, for this extremely valuable and exciting experience for a young Keyboard Trust organist! Charlie is only 20 years old – and he said he found the experience quite scary but hugely exhilarating and wonderful to play on the Abbey’s Rolls Royce of organs! He asked me to pass on thanks to you for the opportunity – and a million thanks from all of us too ….’
The presentation of the Gift of Music – a celebration of 30 years of the Keyboard Trust will take place at the National Liberal Club on the 13th September .It will be presented by the honorary patron Sir Antonio Pappano who will perform together with Leslie Howard and other artists from the Keyboard Trust illustrious roster including the recipient this year of the Weir Trust Award
A true voyage of discovery for this genial young musician with an insatiable curiosity and love of music.From a superb Hammerklavier and Diabelli in the past few years to the glittering honky tonk of that maverick Percy Grainger. Mosolov had us searching in the archives to know about this futurist composer as opposed to ‘old school’Rachmaninov. As Julian says things may change but the essential character is always the same. From a French composer who could write the most honest picture of Spain,to a Spanish composer inspired by pictures of a Spanish artist. After a deliciously Viennese sonata movement by Schubert – written in the last year of his short life Julian just entreated us,like in yoga,to carry on practicing but just release your mind. Well we did not need much enticing with Grainger’s arrangement of songs from the first ever Afro American musical to touch Broadway where glissandi and much else abound But is was the sumptuous sense of colour and true voyage of discovery that was so extraordinary . To see the evolution of a sixteen year old outsider who won top prize in one of the most prestigious International competitions.To his literally letting his hair down as he entered Oxford only to leave early to go to find true freedom in Paris . Every so often he comes back to this Mecca in Perivale to open up our ears and enrich our spirit as this true renaissance boy turns into a genial young artist of great stature. An astonishing recital and cannot wait to hear what the next visit brings us.
Debussy: ‘Poissons d’Or’ from Images Book 2
Mosolov Sonata in B minor ‘From old notebooks’ Op 4 – 1st movt
Alexander Vasilyevich Mosolov 29 July] 1900 – 11 July 1973 was a composer of the early Soviet era, known best for his early futurist piano sonatas orchestral episodes, and vocal music.He studied at the Moscow Conservatory and achieved his greatest fame in the Soviet Union and around the world for his 1926 composition,Iron Foundry.Later conflicts with Soviet authorities led to his expulsion from the Composers’ Union in 1936 and imprisonment in the Gulag in 1937.Born in Kiev in 1900, but moved with his family to Moscow three years later. When he was five, his father died, but his widowed mother, a professional singer who worked at the Bolshoi Theatre until 1905, was left comfortably well off. After her husband’s death, she married the painter and designer Michael W. Leblan (1875-1940). She cultivated a cosmopolitan outlook, and the young Alexander was brought up speaking French and German in addition to Russian. The family regularly visited the cultural capitals of western Europe, especially Paris, Berlin and London. During the October Revolution he volunteered to serve in the Red Army, but in 1921 he was medically discharged, suffering from what we would now call post-traumatic stress disorder. He then entered the Moscow Conservatoire and studied composition with Glière and Myaskovsky. In 1927 Prokofiev, who was then living in the West, returned for a concert tour of the Soviet Union. He became acquainted with the music of Mosolov, whom he praised as the most interesting of Russia’s new talents.
Rachmaninov Prelude in B minor Op 32 no 10
Rachmaninov Prelude in D major Op 23 no 4
Debussy: ‘La Soirée dans Grenade’ from Estampes
Granados: ‘The Maiden and the Nightingale’ from Goyescas
Schubert: Sonata in A major D 959 – 1st movt
Schumann: Romance in F sharp major Op 28 no 2
Grainger: In Dahomey
In Dahomey (Cakewalk Smasher) was inspired by tunes from an all-Negro musical comedy of the same name starring Bert Williams and George Walker, noted exponents of the cakewalk. The only known London performance of this comedy with music by Will Marion Cook occurred at the Shaftesbury Theatre on 16 May 1903 and one must assume that both Grainger and Rathbone were in the audience. Grainger’s jazzy romp quotes from the chorus of Cook’s Brown Skin Baby Mine and to this Grainger mixes a cakewalk piece by Arthur Pryor (a trombone soloist with Sousa’s band). It occupied Grainger for six years, with the final two notes being added in Aden harbour in June 1909. It is a concert rag of huge dimensions which ranges in character from gentle impressionism to wild abandon. Pryor was noted for his trombone glissandi or ‘licks’, here translated into their pianistic equivalents by a cataclysm of virtuosic tricks including glissandi of every known type. The inevitable combination of both tunes has been described as ‘a page of nearly Ivesian dissonance’; ‘encountering this work for the first time is like entering a time machine!’ Grainger conjures up the sounds of banjo, brass band and other instrumental colours of the period. He dedicated this ‘smasher’ to Rathbone with the enigmatic words: ‘For you have always been so good to it.’ The work remained in manuscript and was never seemingly offered for publication during Grainger’s lifetime. It was eventually published in 1987 some seventy-eight years after completion. A full history of the genesis of this piece can be found in the published edition (C F Peters, New York).
Julian Trevelyan is a British musician. In 2021 he won the Second, Audience and Mozart prizes at the Concours Géza Anda. In 2015 at the age of 16, he was the top prize winner, and youngest ever laureate at the Concours Marguerite Long. He has also won laureates at the CFRPM, Ile de France, Dudley, Dumortier and Kissinger competitions. He has studied at the École Normale Alfred Cortot with Rena Shereshevskaya, sponsored by Patrick Masure. From 2021 he is Rena’s assistant, and replaces her in lessons. He also studied composition there, and is composer in residence with Ensemble Dynamique. He is an Alumnus of the Lieven International Piano Foundation. He has also studied with Christopher Elton, Elizabeth Altman and Rita Wagner. He studied musicology at Oxford University, and has a degree in Geology. He leads a string quartet, plays historical instruments and is part of a mandarin a capella choir. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, cooking and sports. He currently lives in Paris and speaks four languages.
I had not realised until today that Beethoven’s vision of paradise was so complete. A continuous outpouring of whispered confessions that held six thousand people spellbound as Sir Andras Schiff took them on a journey of such beauty and wonder. His superb sense of proportion and balance turned this percussive instrument that so frustrated Beethoven into the celestial sounds that the composer obviously had in his head . It was Sir Andras Schiff who miraculously could convey this magic land to us today.He was simply the medium that transmitted the very essence of Beethoven. We listened as one to a continuous outpouring of music that just flowed so miraculously and generously from his hands.
Beginning with the E major Prelude and Fugue Book 2 by Bach ,the scene had been set ,the air cleansed as the first notes of op 109 just floated in so magically. This whispered performance allowed for such clarity and sense of orchestral colour. Has the left hand of op 110 in the first movement ever been so clearly obvious or the inversion of the fugue like a distant star that gradually got closer and closer as like Scriabin it’s burning energy encompassed us so completely.The final scales in op 111 played like magic layers of sound that led to the final disintegration of a universe. Nothing was forced or imposed as the music unfolded so naturally.In op 109 leggiermente and teneramente appear in Beethovens world with Sir Andras barely touching the keys but with a sense of line that allowed the music to flow like the air we breathe. Even the Allegro vivace was played with such reticence and control as it gradually disintigrated before our very eyes with such magic sounds of controlled passion and sublime beauty floating always on a wave that was ever present but never invasive. The Allegro ma non troppo breaking the spell but always within this cocoon that envelopes the sonata from the first to the last note. There was passion too as the theme enters the realm of the gods but it was the bell like sounds above the ever meandering left hand that was so beautiful. It is interesting to note how faithful Sir Andras is in following Beethoven’s very precise pedal indications.These are streams of sound and not individual notes as the celestial trills lead us back to the simplicity of the theme. This final time barely whispered as he put the Sonata to bed with the very gentlest of sighs.
Op 110 is the most mellifluous of the 32 Sonatas that traced Beethoven’s life adventure. Sir Andras barely touching the keys but with his sense of balance and line so ingrained that the music unwound in a series of magical episodes.Pin pointing key notes in the florid passages as in fact Beethoven indicates.Notes that shone like hidden jewels where rays of light had brought them miraculously to life.It was here as I have said that this gentle way of approaching the sonatas allowed so many details to appear without any forcing .The left hand so clear with the right hand syncopation I have never heard so eloquent even from Agosti.His performance and rare live recording from the Ghione theatre in Rome was so similar in many ways to Sir Andras’s approach to this music. Agosti was forever imploring his students with ‘troppo forte’ and placing his hand above the students hands to stop them producing percussive sounds. The left hand conversation in the development was quite extraordinary for its eloquence as Beethoven has so clearly notated but is rarely played so convincingly as today.
Wilhelm Kempff in his old age was searching for the perfect legato and with such humility before the great music that he was transmitting. Radu Lupu too from his debut at the Proms with the Emperor Concerto of truly imperial proportions and a Choral Fantasy that he happily filled in for orchestral members who did not know the score .But in his final years his deceptively Brahmsian bearing could produce the magic sounds that had Curzon exclaiming :Thank God I lived to hear that! The treacherous trio section of the Allegro molto was played with such ease contrasting with the restrained vehemence of the Allegro. The opening of the Adagio was almost matter of fact as it dissolved into the wondrous appearance of the Arioso dolente.There was absolute clarity of parts in the fugue but it was the magic at the end that took our breath away.The final majestic chord suddenly being transformed from E flat to D as the Arioso floated on chords that seemed like Beethoven’s own heartbeats. The final three notes played staccato that contrasted so well with the long held pedal that brings us to the barely audible inversion of the fugue. Sir Andras had said he only dared play these last two sonatas after his fiftieth year ,the very age when Beethoven could pen such wondrous sounds. Op.111 was played very deliberately with great clarity.The development was played with such attention to the bass that it allowed the opening motive to appear so clearly in each voice. The coda dissolved in such a simple way as the Adagio appeared with the same texture as the late quartets.Leading to the tumultuous third variation where for the first time Sir Andras seemed to exert himself as the music gradually dissolved to a murmur. The simple,jewel like precision of the delicate meanderings on high were pure magic where a mere glimpse of the theme in the left hand was truly sublime. Trills,streams of pure gold on which Beethoven can soar into the heights that were to await him after his final Missa Solemnis and Diabelli variations.Variations that like Bach’s Art of Fugue are a true testimony to the genius of man.
As Sir Andras so eloquently said: Bach is the Old Testament and Beethoven the New. It is music with a message of humility and above all humanity. Beethoven who had struggled all his tormented life had now seen a new and better world. Just as Bach had written his B minor Mass as a message for posterity of beauty and peace on earth
Nicola Losito played a masterful recital at our beautiful venue, the Orangery of castle Rheda, a week ago.
Inge and Bernd Jostkleigrewe, our dear friends, had once again organised the entire events with incomparable love and care about any detail.
Having arrived a day before after an 11 hour journey, Nicola was able to practise at the Einstein-Gymnasium, the local grammar school’s Steinway B on Friday morning. In recognition of this opportunity, Nicola had agreed to performing for over 250 school children, explaining and talking about the works he played. The school director, Mr Jörg Droste, who also attended the recital in the evening, was very generous in allowing Nicola to practise, and the 50 minutes’ event was an unforgettable experience for the children and teachers alike. THANK YOU, dear Mr Droste!
In the evening, Nicola Losito’s extraordinary recital took place:
A brand-new Steinway B with an astonishingly warm and even range of colours and sounds had been generously placed into the Orangery by the piano house ‘Micke’ from Münster in Westphalia.
The hall was sold out (about 175 seats), it was once again a beneficiary charity recital for INNER WHEEL of Rheda-Wiedenbrück. Inner Wheel, founded in January 1924 by Welsh nurse Margarette Golding, née Owen, was originally an organisation to promote friendship, service and understanding, open to wives of Rotary club members. Today, this women’s organisation has over 100,000 members in over 100 countries, working for people and institutions in need of support.
Nicola Losito, now 26, had studied with Maria Puxeddo (she died in January 2021, aged almost 96) as a child, later with Teresa Trevisan and Massimo Gon at the state conservatory Trieste. Over the period of four years, he had also studied with Arrau‘s student, Argentinian pianist Aquiles delle Vigne (he died at the beginning of this year, aged 75) in Salzburg, Paris and Lucca. For many years recently, he had in addition been Leonid Margarius‘ student at the International piano Academy in Imola.
This impressive list of teachers has clearly added imprints to Nicola Losito‘s vast musical talent and on his capacity as a mature and utterly musical pianist.
The programme he performed consisted of two Beethoven sonatas in the first half, and music of the romantic era in the second.
Nicola Losito’s rendition of Beethoven’s Opus 27 number one and two was a clear demonstration of his ability to play the Viennaise classic repertoire in a most idiomatic and convincing manner. The scarce use of pedal, combined with his sharp sense of rhythm and metrum brought his interpretation to a very high level, and often I felt it was Arrau himself performing. Especially the tempo of the first movement of the E flat major sonata, often taken much too slow by too many pianists, was beautiful: andante (but written in Alla Breve!!) has to be moving ahead rather than tapping slowly and sleepingly. There is one recording of Walter Gieseking that demonstrates how it should really be performed. Nicola has fully understood this work and Beethoven’s intention. So this was beautiful, and the consistency of expression and beautiful choice of metre and tempo added to his interpretation, also it’s beautiful rendition of the Moonlight Sonata. With his sound always singing and clear, never too hard and with no exaggerations in either slow or fast movements, the audience became very enthusiastic about Nicola’s Beethoven, and rapturous applause closed the first half after about 30 minutes.
What followed in the second half was simply breathtaking: a Dante Sonata which would have impressed you, dear Leslie, played in the most haunting way when it came to hell, and in the most celestial beauty as a contrast. Nicola’s technique is such that it allows him to play anything, and despite his slim figure and finely shaped hands, he can produce the most incredible sounds, as if a big orchestra were playing. Not once any banging of the piano occurred!
A choice of four preludes and Etudes-Tableaux by Rachmaninov clearly demonstrated Margarius’ influence, no Ukrainian or Russian pianist could play this more convincingly than Nicola did.
Nicola Losito concluded his recital with a beautiful rendition of the plum sugar fairy dance of Tchaikovsky‘s Nutcracker suite, transcribed by Mikhail Pletnev. The rhythmic sense was delightful, and one could imagine a whole ballet dancing and floating through the Orangery. The beautiful weather allowed the evening sunshine to shed warm colours on everyone.
A masterful, breathtaking encore of Chopin’s study Opus 25 number 12, C Minor (with Chopin’s hidden Hommage to Bach subtly but clearly demonstrated by Nicola) concluded an evening that so many people had yearned to hear for over two years. It was an impressive, delightful and long awaited experience, and Nicola Losito deserves full marks.
A masterful pianist, a delightful, modest and highly educated personality, Nicola Losito represented the Keyboard Charitable Trust in a most dignified and noble manner – he should also be supported in the future, so I am advocating for him to be sent also to the United States and elsewhere whenever possible. BRAVISSIMO, CARO NICOLA!
I now want to thank Inge and Bernd Jostkleigrewe, our dear friends, who have long had a very close connection with our foundation, once initiated by their wonderful daughter Anne Jostkleigrewe, when she herself was working as a cultural attaché at the representation of the city of Hamburg in Berlin. Inge & Bernd have once again organised this recital, followed by a generous dinner invitation afterwards, with meticulous care and love for our work. THANK YOU, DEAR INGE AND BERND!
With very much love and gratitude that I was once again given the opportunity to organise a recital for foundation. I hope we will be able to continue, although the pandemic is looming over autumn.