Misha Kaploukhii plays Rachmaninov Beauty and youthfulness triumph

‘The Young Musicians Symphony Orchestra represents the realisation of an ambition I have had for some time – that the musicians of this orchestra be drawn not only from the most eminent Conservatoires in England but that it be an orchestra representing the whole of the British Isles, Ireland and beyond. Their audiences will be treated to an integrated body of musicians incorporating the great cultural strands which compose these green islands. I am happy that this more than national orchestra is now in existence and will continue. I pray, for years to come to bring our audiences the most wonderful music played in a most wonderful way by our young people.”
Lord Menuhin – late President of the YMSO

I was very privileged to be able to attend the rehearsal of the Rachmaninov Concerto,invited by the young soloist together with his teacher Prof Ian Jones to listen to the balance and the acoustic. I remember doing the same for Trifonov a few years ago at the Festival Hall.Misha is only 19 and Trifonov was 21 and we had a birthday party for him afterwards.In the rehearsal Lady Weidenfeld and I were sitting near the stage and the balance sounded fine and what could we say but just marvel,as I did today with Ian,at the fluency and absolute youthful mastery.

In rehearsal

At Trifonov’s concert though in the evening the BBC had discovered that the sound of the piano did not carry into the notoriously difficult acoustic of the hall.The public were kept waiting for half an hour whilst they tried to resolve the problem by moving the position of the piano and the microphones.This was not the case today with Misha in the smaller Cadogan Hall although I remember other problems with this work that Alex Ullman,also an alumni of the RCM a student of Ian Jones together with Dmitri Alexeev,found on playing this same concerto in the Keyboard Trust Complete series in Italy.Three performances of each of the five works for piano and orchestra culminating in the final performance in Rossini’s own theatre in Pesaro.After the first performance in Fabriano Alex was not happy with his performance as he realised that it was not the great heroic romantic concerto that he had thought .Although there are moments of youthful grandeur and romantic fervour the interplay between the piano and the orchestra is really of chamber music proportions.Alex’s second performance was a triumph.https://christopheraxworthymusiccommentary.com/2015/05/26/rachmaninoff-festival-ancona-2015/

Triumphant evening performance

It was the performance of Richter of such power and delicacy that pointed the way in modern times .Byron Janis had given a quicksilver electric performance for RCA as you would expect from a disciple of Horowitz.I always found it strange that Horowitz never seemed to play it in public especially as Rachmaninov always said that his best friend plays him well!Of course the composers own recorded performance with his favourite Philadelphia Orchestra is a great guide.

Misha with the genial James Blair
The Young Musicians Symphony Orchestra is Britain’s leading orchestra for young musicians on the threshold of their professional careers. It provides invaluable experience to those who are studying or have recently completed their training, but are not yet established in the profession.

It was obvious that this young man today had the same youthful spirit as Rachmaninov allied to a remarkable pianistic mastery that allowed him to play the intricate webs of sound with such clarity .There was sumptuous beauty too with the great romantic melodies that ravish and seduce almost Hollywood style. The grandiloquence of the opening in reply to the orchestras opening fanfare was remarkably assured but it was the authority and colour of the cadenza that really showed his artistry. Ravishing beauty and projection in the slow movement reached moments of sublime inspiration in the lyrical central episode of the devilishly tricky last movement .Misha at only 19 is a great artist who saved something very special for the performance with public with a gargantuan cadenza of great intensity leading to a thrilling first movement finish.A ravishing opening solo in the slow movement which was extremely moving and a scintillating last movement where he really let go and had fun, scampering around with great playfulness but without losing an ounce of crispness and clarity.It is the sign of real artistic temperament that the finest performance was with the stimulation of a live audience.

Misha winner of the Royal College of Music Concerto Prize will be playing Liszt 2nd Piano Concerto on the 27 and 28th October in the Amaryllis Fleming Concert Hall.The concert will include Vaughan Williams Sea Symphony as a 150 anniversary tribute to the composer.It is strange that today the 12th October, Vaughan Williams’s 150th birthday the orchestra chose to play Elgar!They had though started with a deliciously idiomatic performance of Lehar’s Merry Widow Overture and how wonderfully and with what beguilingly stylish passion these young musicians played.After the concerto an encore was requested but we had in a sense had the encore already with Lehar at the beginning!A first half,that dare I say it,was like showtime!

Pianist and flautist Misha Kaploukhii was born in 2002 and is an alumnus of the Moscow Gnessin College of Music, where he studied in the piano class of Mikhail Egiazarian. Misha is currently studying at the Royal College of Music; he is an RCM and Robert Turnbull Piano Foundation scholarship holder studying for a Bachelor of Music with Professor Ian Jones. He also gained inspiration from lessons and masterclasses with musicians such as Claudio Martínez Mehner, Dmitri Bashkirov, Jerome Lowenthal and Konstantin Lifschitz. Misha already has experience of performing with orchestras internationally and his overall repertoire includes a wide range of solo and chamber music. Recently, Misha has won prizes in the RCM concerto competition (playing Liszt’s 2nd Piano Concerto) and in the International Ettlingen Piano Competition.

In rehearsal

Misha writes : ‘It is my first Rachmaninov concerto to learn and play with orchestra, despite also studying Paganini Variations with Prof.Ian Jones.
I always felt connection with the 1st one because of its prodigious harmonic language due to the fact it was orchestrated and edited after 25 years, when the 2nd and 3rd were already completed, yet some people would call the architecture of the concero “disjointed” I find beauty and youthfulness in it.It is rarely played in the uk and it was such an amazing opportunity to work with great James Blair. It was also a privilege to be on one stage with taleneted musicians of YMSO who I suppose didn’t know the concerto before, but understood all the difficult tempo changes and challenges of polyrhythms with a high level of professionalism

The Young Musicians Symphony Orchestra (YMSO) is distinctive in being the only full-size symphony orchestra based in London which provides orchestral training, performance experience and professional development opportunities to outstanding young classical musicians from across the UK, between the ages of 18-25. The YMSO is a registered Charity and has never received any statutory funding. For nearly 50 years it has successfully bridged the gap between college life and the orchestral profession.By the time a student leaves music college they will have committed at least fifteen years to developing their skills as a musician. Abruptly, competition for the small number of performance opportunities against several hundred other musicians in the same position becomes a fact of life.The number of students destined for a solo career is limited. Instead, the majority will end up as freelance musicians. They will have to be equally at home in a string quartet, a chamber or symphony orchestra. Today’s musician must be versatile, flexible and thrifty in order to survive. They will be required to reach public performance standard after minimal rehearsal and be available in the most disparate venues from one day to the next.The YMSO provides a bridge between college life and the profession. The richness of London’s musical life is world-renowned, but the musical education system does not have the resources to address these issues. Many students find themselves abandoned in a world of work without being equipped to handle it. The YMSO gives students and graduates the advantage of experiencing the major classical repertoire, realistic rehearsal schedules and public performance.

James Blair

James Blair, Principal Conductor and Artistic Director of the Young Musicians Symphony Orchestra, was born in Scotland. Whilst studying in London with Bernard Keefe, Sir Adrian Boult and in Italy with Franco Ferrara, his talent was soon recompensed with numerous awards including the Ricardi Conducting Prize and an Italian Government Scholarship to study in Sienna, Rome and Venice.James has been associated with the YMSO since 1971 and has established it as the UK’s leading training orchestra. He has received particular renown with the orchestra in two areas; the interpretation of large-scale romantic works and the rediscovery of and, in some cases, British and World Premieres of neglected works by a variety of important composers.

with Prof Ian Jones

The Piano Concerto No. 1 in F♯ minor, Op. 1, was started in 1891 at age 17-18 (the first two movements were completed while he was still 17; the third movement and the orchestration were completed shortly after he had turned 18). He dedicated the work to Alexander Siloti

Alexander Siloti first cousin and teacher of Sergei Rachmaninov

The public was already familiar with the Second and Third Concertos before Rachmaninoff revised the First in 1917. The First is very different from his later works incorporating as it does elements of youthful vivacity and impetuosity.The differences between the 1890–1891 original and the 1917 revision reveal a tremendous amount about the composer’s development in the intervening years. There is a considerable thinning of texture in the orchestral and piano parts and much material that made the original version diffuse and episodic is removed.Of all the revisions Rachmaninoff made to various works, this one was perhaps the most successful. Using an acquired knowledge of harmony, orchestration, piano technique and musical form, he transformed an early, immature composition into a concise, spirited work.However as Rachmaninov himself said :”I have rewritten my First Concerto; it is really good now. All the youthful freshness is there, and yet it plays itself so much more easily. And nobody pays any attention. When I tell them in America that I will play the First Concerto, they do not protest, but I can see by their faces that they would prefer the Second or Third.”

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