Gabriele Sutkuté at St Marys Refined musicianship and artistry

Tuesday 22 November 3.00 pm

Some very refined playing of great musicianship.A scintillating Haydn with ornaments that sparked and shone with such purity and freshness.An Allegro that was played with exemplary clarity and some subtle changes of register with a purity of sound and well oiled fingers.Lacking legato and shape that was obviously what Haydn had to accept on the instruments of the day but on the piano and with Gabriele’s temperament perhaps she could have allowed herself a little more pedal to add a greater sense of shape and beauty within the phrase.The Menuet was played with a touching simplicity and purity of finger legato which contrasted with the drama of the trio which again could have been helped by a touch of pedal.However it made the reappearance and the simplicity of the Menuet even more poignant.The presto was a tour de force of clarity and rhythmic energy to the last mighty statement in octaves and the two tongue in cheek final chords.An extraordinary finger technique allied to a musicianship and sense of historic style where she could discreetly added a touch of pedal to give more colour especially to the repeated notes in the Presto.Whilst rhythmically exhilarating they lacked a sense of direction due to their similarity and a more horizontal and less verticale approach would have allowed her more flexibility.However a remarkable performance where she preferred to look backwards to the harpsichord rather that forwards to the piano forte that was just on the horizon in the 1770’s.

Her beautiful lyricism in Prokofiev’s early fourth sonata was overshadowed by it’s ominous clouds and deep brooding bursting into the Poulencian joie de vivre of the finale.There were spine chilling ornaments in the opening meanderings of the Allegro molto sostenuto.Here she allowed herself full reign of the pedal and it gave a sense of colour and ease that allowed the music to unfold so naturally to the final decisive chords.There were deep bass chimes at the opening of the Andante assai that Prokofiev marks serioso before opening up to vibrating chords on which the melodic line floats so magically.She brought ravishing beauty to the tranquillo e dolce episode before the absolute dead wooden chords and a momentary respite.It contrasted so well with the return of the vibrating chords of the opening and the magic bell like sounds in the poco meno mosso before the end.The last movement just shot from her superb fingers with such ease as Prokofiev at last writes con brio in this up to now rather sombre sound world.Her playing was exhilarating and exciting with an astonishing technical ease that allowed the quixotic character of this movement to spring so easily from her fingers.

There was ravishing beauty in the Franck/Bauer with its haunting opening melody that pervades the whole work.It was played with a luminosity of sound bathed in pedal that with her very sensitive sense of balance allowed the melodic line to emerge unimpeded but sustained by rich bass harmonies.A subtle flexibility gave a moving but aristocratic shape of great sentiment but no sentimentality.Great flourishes of magical arpeggios announced the fugue that was played with simplicity and luminosity as it gradually grew in intensity.Some wondrous changes of colour building to an overwhelming climax out of which floated the opening theme on high on a cloud of quivering sonorities – a very similar moment of pure magic as in his Prelude,Chorale and Fugue written for the piano.A superb performance full of atmospheric colours and ravishing sounds.

Ravel showed off her kaleidoscopic sense of colour and considerable technical prowess.But there was also great control and sense of line and a natural musicality that turned even the astonishing glissandi into part of an architectural whole that kept us spellbound throughout her recital.Performances that showed her masterly control of sound and fearless virtuosity all with sterling musicianship and impeccable good taste.

The sonata No 32 is one of a group of six published privately in manuscript copies in 1776.The 1770s, when Haydn’s Sonata in B minor was composed, was the age of Sturm und Drang (storm and stress) in German culture, an age when aberrant emotions were all the rage in music; and what better than the minor mode to convey these emotions? It is also important to note that the 1770s was the period in which the harpsichord was gradually giving way to the new fortepiano, precursor of the modern grand, and there is much in this sonata to suggest that it still lingered eagerly on the harpsichord side of things.The kind of writing you find in the first movement, especially, is the sort that speaks well on the harpsichord. Moreover, there are no dynamic markings in the score, as you would expect in a piece that aimed to take advantage of the new instrument’s chief virtue: playing piano e forte.In his later works Haydn preferred a cheerful, major-mode resolution in his minor-keyed movements. Here, though, the recapitulations of the fiercely concentrated outer movements remain grimly in the minor .The finale, with its obsessively pounding theme—the mainspring of virtually all the musical action—and unexpected silences, is perhaps Haydn’s most violent sonata movement, culminating in the coda that thunders out the theme in stark octave unison. Amid this turbulence, the dulcet, long-spanned central minuet in B major, in place of the usual slow movement ,provides harmonic balm, with its darkly agitated B minor trio evoking the mood of the sonata as a whole.The minuet is set high in the register, sparkling with trills with melodic leaps as large as a 14th. The trio is daringly in the minor mode, set low, and grinds grimly away in constant semiquaver motion.
The Piano Sonata No. 4 in C minor, Op. 29, subtitled D’après des vieux cahiers, or After Old Notebooks, was composed in 1917 and premiered on April 17 the next year by the composer himself in was dedicated to Prokofiev’s late friend Maximilian Schmidthof, whose suicide in 1913 had shocked and saddened the composer.Whether the restrained, even brooding quality of much of the Fourth Sonata relates in any direct way to Schmidthof’s death is uncertain, but it is certainly striking that the first two movements both start with brooding deep bass notes .There is less showiness in this essentially rather introvert work than in any of the other piano sonatas.
Franck was inspired to write this organ piece for the instrument at the church of Sainte-Clotilde. While it sounds majestic on the organ, it is also frequently heard in Harold Bauer’s transcription for the piano.The Prelude, Fugue and Variation, Op. 18 is one of Franck’s Six Pieces for organ, premiered by the composer at Sainte-Clotilde on 17 November 1864. They mark a decisive stage in his creative development, revealing how he was building on the post-Beethoven Germanic tradition in terms of the importance given to musical construction.
The Prelude, Fugue and Variation is dedicated to Saint-Saëns. Years earlier, when Franck published his Op. 1 trios, Liszt was among their admirers but had advised his younger colleague to write a new finale for the third of the trios and create a separate work from the original finale – this became Franck’s Fourth Piano Trio, Op. 2, dedicated to Liszt. In spring 1866, the Hungarian composer was in Paris for the French premiere of his Missa solennis for the consecration of the Basilica in Gran (Esztergom) at the Église Saint-Eustache on 15 March, a work about which Franck was enthusiastic. At the beginning of his stay, Liszt had come to listen to Franck improvising at Sainte-Clotilde and, apparently at Duparc’s instigation, a second private performance took place on 3 April. Franck wanted to play Liszt’s Prelude and Fugue on the Name BACH but the latter asked instead to hear Franck’s own Prelude, Fugue and Variation.
The piano transcription of this organ work was made by Harold Bauer (1873-1951), the British pianist who gave the world premiere of Debussy’s Children’s Corner and was the dedicatee of Ondine, the first piece in Ravel’s Gaspard de la nuit.Harold Bauer made his debut as a violinist in London in 1883, and for nine years toured England. In 1892, however, he went to Paris and studied with Paderewski for a year.In 1900, Harold Bauer made his debut in America with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, performing the U.S. premiere of Brahms’Piano Concerto No.1 in D minor. On 18 December 1908, he gave the world premiere performance of Debussy’s Children’s Corner Suite in Paris.After that he settled in the United States.He was also an influential teacher and editor, heading the Piano Department at the Manhattan School of Music . Starting in 1941, Bauer taught winter master classes at the University of Miami and served as a Visiting Professor at the University of Hartford Hartt .Students of Harold Bauer include notably Abbey Simon and Dora Zaslavsky.
Oiseaux tristes” (“Sad Birds”) is dedicated to Ricardo Vines, and is a lone bird whistling a sad tune, after which others join in. The excited middle section is offset by a cadenza which brings back the melancholy mood of the beginning.Written between 1904 and 1905 and first performed by Vines in 1906, Miroirs contains five movements, each dedicated to a fellow member of the French avant-Garde artist group ‘Les Apaches’.
The idea of La valse began first with the title “Vienne” as early as 1906, where Ravel intended to orchestrate a piece in tribute to the waltz form and to Johann Strauss.As he himself stated:’You know my intense attraction to these wonderful rhythms and that I value the joie de vivre expressed in the dance much more deeply than Franckist puritanism.Ravel completely reworked his idea of Wien into what became La valse, which was to have been written under commission from Diaghilev as a ballet. However, he never produced the ballet after hearing a two-piano reduction performed by Ravel and Marcelle Meyer saying it was a “masterpiece” but rejected Ravel’s work as “not a ballet. It’s a portrait of ballet”. Ravel, hurt by the comment, ended the relationship and when the two men met again during 1925, Ravel refused to shake Diaghilev’s hand. Diaghilev challenged Ravel to a duel, but friends persuaded Diaghilev to recant. The men never met again.Ravel described La valse with the following preface to the score:
‘Through whirling clouds, waltzing couples may be faintly distinguished. The clouds gradually scatter: one sees at letter A an immense hall peopled with a whirling crowd. The scene is gradually illuminated. The light of the chandeliers bursts forth at the fortissimo letter B. Set in an imperial court, about 1855.’

Lithuanian pianist Gabriele Sutkute has already established herself as a musician of strong temperament and “excellent precision and musicality” (Rasa Murauskaite from 7 days of Art ). She has given many concerts and performed in numerous festivals throughout Europe and appeared in famous halls such as the Wigmore Hall, the Steinway Hall UK, the Musikhuset Aarhus, Jacqueline du Pré Music Building and Lithuanian National Philharmonic Hall. In addition to being a soloist, Gabriele frequently performs with chamber ensembles and symphony orchestras. In 2018, she had a trio performance alongside distinguished cellist Adrian Brendel in the RAM Summer Piano Festival and was also invited to play with the renowned Kaunas String Quartet in Lithuania. In 2020, she performed Rachmaninov’s 2 nd Piano Concerto with the Grammy-nominated Kaunas Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Markus Huber, and in 2019, performed this concerto with the Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Modestas Pitrenas, at the Lithuanian National Philharmonic. Gabriele is a winner of nineteen international piano competitions where she also received numerous special awards. In 2022, she was awarded 2 nd Prize and the Audience Prize at the Birmingham International Piano Competition. For her musical achievements she received Lithuanian Republic Presidents’ certificates of appreciation six times. The pianist is also an artist at Talent Unlimited and is the recipient of the prestigious Mills Williams Junior Fellowship 2022/23 and the Jacob Barnes Award 2021. Gabriele has had masterclasses with professors and pianists such as S. Kovacevich, I. Levit, I. Cooper, S. Osborne, O. Kern and many more acclaimed musicians . From 2016-22, she has been studying with Professor Christopher Elton and received her Bachelor of Music Degree (First Class Honours) and Master of Arts Degree with Distinction from the Royal Academy of Music. For the outstanding performance in her Postgraduate Final Recital, she also received a Postgraduate Diploma (DipRAM). Gabriele was awarded a full scholarship for the Artist Diploma course at the Royal College of Music and began her studies there with Professor Vanessa Latarche and Professor Sofya Gulyak in September.

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