Emanuil Ivanov ‘Sensational’ recital of technical assurance and refined intelligence



Dr Mather’s comment of sensational was an understatement indeed .
Phenomenal technical assurance allied to refined intelligent musicianship combined to astonish,amaze and seduce in the complete Etudes Tableaux op 39 in celebration of Rachmaninov’s 150th anniversary of his birth.Superhuman control of sound made each of these tableaux come vividly to life with Nobility,Sensuality and Exhilaration.

The famous fifth In E flat minor I have never heard with the same searing passion and aristocratic control with contrasts tinged with bitter sweet Russian nostalgia.The ‘Red Riding Hood’ study number six was enough to scare the life out of us with its continual roaring interruptions and its ever more driving insistence .There was beauty as the rhapsodic melody of number eight was allowed to expand so naturally leading to the imperious declamation of the ninth.the final study was played with majestic grandeur and scintillating march rhythms of glittering virtuosity.There was ravishing beauty in the question and answer of the languid second study in A minor leading to the intricacies and swirling brilliance of the third with the breaks suddenly applied at the end where the the last cadence was reduced to a reverberating echo.The deeply brooding seventh marked ‘lugubre’ and Lento was only the opening of a transcendental accumulation of chords that were played with quite phenomenal technical and musical assurance.A tour de force of musicianship and virtuosity that was indeed breathtaking and exhilarating .

Two Scarlatti sonatas opened the concert .Crystalline clarity and rhythmic Spanish propulsion with dynamic contrasts of superhuman control.

But the surprise was still to come with Emanuil’s delicious theme and variations,written last year as a birthday present for his girlfriend.
He was happy to declare on this Valentine day that it was a piece full of sincerity and loving expression.
Ravishing beauty of an original theme developed into a series of variations that like bagatelles were full of character and amazing gymnastics.A cloud of sound in the bass was created at the climax on which the theme came back ever more tender and lovingly played.
What a charmer this wonderful young pianist is!
Off now to play Saint Saens Egyptian Concerto with the Sophia Philharmonic and next month to wow the Florentine public in the Keyboard Trust’s new series in the beautiful Harold Acton Library.
Emanuil as winner of the 2019 Busoni Competition will play on the 30th and Ivan Krpan winner of the 2017 Competition will play on the 2nd.
It reminds me of the duel between Thalberg and Liszt in Princess Belgioso’s salon.
A duel between giants indeed !

Last but not least was the jewel in a regal crown with an encore of ‘Reflets dans l’eau’.A prism of magical reflections of sumptuous ravishing sounds.The final chord was a revelation of clarity where Agosti had told me that Busoni played the last chord split from top to bottom but the superb musicianship of Emanuil suddenly revealed the solidity of the final chord and the final notes at the extremes of the keyboard just vibrations or should I say reflections.
There was magic in the air today at St Mary’s!

Emanuil Ivanov attracted international attention after receiving the First prize at the 2019 Ferruccio Busoni Piano Competition in Italy. This achievement was followed by concert engagements in some of the world’s most prestigious halls including Teatro alla Scala in Milan and Herculessaal in Munich. Emanuil Ivanov was born in 1998 in the town of Pazardzhik, Bulgaria. From an early age he demonstrated a keen interest and love for music.

He regards the presence of symphonic music, especially that of Gustav Mahler, as tremendously influential in his musical upbringing during his childhood. He started piano lessons with Galina Daskalova in his hometown around the age of seven. He later studied in and graduated from the Bertolt Brecht language high school in Pazardzhik. Ivanov studied with renowned bulgarian pianist Atanas Kurtev from 2013 to 2018. He is currently studying on a full scholarship at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire under the tutelage of Pascal Nemirovski and Anthony Hewitt. Ivanov has won prizes in competitions such as “Alessandro Casagrande”, “Scriabin-Rachmaninoff”, “Liszt-Bartok”, “Young virtuosos” and “Jeunesses International Music Competition Dinu Lipatti”. He was also awarded the honorary Crystal lyre and the Young Musician of the Year Award – some of the most prestigious awards in Bulgaria. In 2022 he received the honorary Silver Medal of the London Musicians’ Company and later in the same year became a recipient of the Carnwath Piano Scholarship.

His participations in masterclasses include those of Dmitri Bashkirov, Dmitri Alexeev, Stephen Hough, Vladimir Ovchinnikov, Peter Donohoe, etc. In February 2021, at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, Ivanov performed a solo recital in Milan’s famous Teatro alla Scala. The concert was live-streamed online and is a major highlight in the artist’s career. He has also performed at many festivals in Bulgaria and has also given solo recitals in France, Italy, Germany, Austria, Cyprus, South Africa, the United Kingdom and Poland. He has played with leading orchestras in Bulgaria and Italy.


This is the last Busoni with attachments to the two previous editions (without photos)where winners were Emanuil Ivanov and Ivan Krpan https://christopheraxworthymusiccommentary.com/2021/09/04/busoni-international-piano-competition-2021/


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