Maya Irgalina at St Mary’s The sensibility and finesse of a refined musician

Tuesday 17 January 3.00 pm

Some superb playing at St Mary’s today from a pianist of great sensibility and with a technical prowess that knew no hurdles.An aristocratic sense of style and ravishing sense of colour that belied any idea of showmanship or excess.This was a true thinking musician equipped with astonishing technical finesse who filled the notes with loving care rather than imbue them with dramatic tension and drive.Her charming introduction had already revealed a simple love for the music she was playing,describing Chopin’s Barcarolle as ‘a postcard from Venice’.

Three Scarlatti Sonatas opened her recital with K.121 of delicacy and brilliance ;K 146 beautifully shaped with elegant arpeggios and teasingly busy figurations and rather than finish with brilliance she chose K 534 of languid beauty and reflection.It was the same choice that she made at the end of the recital where rather than finish with the astonishing pyrotechnics of Erlkonig she chose the magic sounds and liquid beauty of Mompou’s evocative’El Lago’

Haydn’s Sonata was filled with ‘joie di vivre’ and as Haydn himself said he resorted to a spot of self-borrowing, recycling the perky tune of the Scherzando second movement of sonata No 36 from the same, ‘Auenbrugger’ set .Haydn added an explanatory note on the reverse of the title page to avoid eventual criticism:’Among these six sonatas are two movements that use the same idea for the first few bars … the composer wishes it to be known that he has done this on purpose to demonstrate different methods of treatment.’ The Adagio was played with a luminosity of sound shaped with simplicity and the beauty of gently flowing sounds.The Prestissimo had buoyancy and high spirits even if it could have had more abandon to bring it even more vividly to life.

It was obvious from how she played the opening bass octave of Chopin’s Barcarolle that we were in the hands of a true musician.Not a declaration of intent but more the opening of a secret chest of jewels.And there were certainly ravishing sparkling sounds in this great song that Chopin had so miraculously penned towards the end of his short life.The golden sounds of the ravishing central nocturne effect that Perlemuter described to me as ‘here we are in heaven’.Sacrificing passion and showmanship for a more inward beauty as she brought this great ‘postcard from Venice’ to a ravishing end.

She chose four of Liszt’s poetic transcriptions of Schubert songs that created a sumptuous feast of refined playing with refined sounds and a sense of balance that no matter how elaborate the decorative accompaniment Schubert’s miraculous melodic invention shone through with heartrending meaning.’Ave Maria’ where the delicacy of the ever more elaborate embellishments gave even more poignancy to the simplicity of the melodic line.An elaborate crossing of hands and magic trickery worthy of Liszt’s great rival Thalberg were played with a religious fervour with sounds that made the piano vibrate with a sumptuous golden glow.She brought refined delicacy to ‘Auf dem Wasser zu singen’ where the the cascades of delicate notes from Ave Maria spilled over on to the tenor line with its magic arabesques linking up to the water bubbling over the stream.An extraordinary sense of balance and technical control as clouds appeared on the scene and the intensity grew more ruvid.The sombre atmosphere she created with her superb control of sound brought Der Doppleganger miraculously to life.It was her phenomenal technical control that brought the infamous octaves of Erlkonig vividly to life but always with the musical meaning being the instigator rather that the victim.The beseeching contrasts and fearsome final chords were indeed breathtaking and would have made a fitting ending for any recital.But it was beauty and serenity that Maya chose to close this very refined musical experience that she had share with us.

London-based Maya Irgalina is a Belarusian pianist of Tatar origin. Her musical interests include jazz and contemporary classics, including Nikolai Kapustin and Carl Vine; as well as Spanish and French impressionism alongside her European and Russian repertoire. Her work has paired her with celebrated tenor Simon O’Neal, cellist Abel Selaocoe, alongside her collaboration with mezzo-soprano Fleur Barron. As a guest pianist, she has played with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Manchester Camerata and Belarusian Opera House Orchestra to name just a few. Maya has been selected as a Britten-Pears Young Artist and was featured in Semyon Bychkov’s Beloved Friend project about Tchaikovsky with the BBC Symphony Orchestra. 

She has won prizes in such competitions as Dudley, Sydney, Maria Yudina, Scriabin etc., and performed internationally with the UK highlights including performances at Wigmore Hall, Barbican, Machynlleth Festival, Oscar Wilde Weekend, Rye Arts Festival, and Cheltenham Jazz Festival. Maya is very grateful to her professors Lilia Ter-Minasian, Graham Scott, Ronan O’Hora and Julius Drake. She holds the International Artist Diploma in Solo Performance and the Gold Medal from the Royal Northern College of Music and the master’s degree in Music from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.


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