Alim Beisembayev – The poetic vision of a great artist

Alim Beisembayev at the Richmond Concert Society with Beethoven op 10 n.3 and op 111 (in place of the advertised op 110) and a second half of Rachmaninov and Liszt.
I remember coming to this modern Catholic Church many years ago to hear Vlado Perlemuter long before he became my teacher and friend.He complained bitterly about the acoustics that he could not hear himself play.But for Vlado right up to his 90th birthday,when Joan and I had to push him on stage at the Wigmore Hall ,every step to the stage was always like going to the guillotine!Cherkassky standing in for Bolet of course loved it !

Beethoven’s early sonata op 10 n.3 was played with much more grace and lightness than we are used to hearing .This together with op 2 n.3 and op 7 begin to show the evolution of Beethoven from the early Haydn inspired Sonatas through to the revolutionary ‘middle period’ of the ‘Tempest’,Waldstein’ ‘Appassionata’ and on to the visionary last Sonatas where the gate is thrown open with the most Schubertian of all the sonatas that of op 90.It was a performance of Murray Perahia that had first made me aware of the grace and fantasy in this Sonata.Subtle phrasing and changing colours together with the same youthful rhythmic energy of the first two concerti.Alim too took me by surprise with the grace he gave to the opening octaves.A speed that at first I thought was excessive but he convinced me by his superb sense of musical architecture where everything fell so perfectly into place.There was astonishing brilliance but allied to a rhythmic precision that like a perfectly crafted clock was a marvel to behold.The rising scales in the left hand answered by the impatient comments
from the right and continuing without any slacking of tempo or tension as the left hand jumped from one end of the keyboard to the other .I have only heard this sort of clockwork musical precision in early Beethoven from Perahia.(Is it just a coincidence that they were both Gold medal winners in Leeds?)The Largo e mesto was a bold and profound statement where his sensibility and aristocratic poise gave great weight to a slow movement that was the innovative creation of a genius.Alim’s control of the pedal too was masterly as he had understood the effects that Beethoven indicates in the score and translated it to the modern day instrument – not just blindly following the road map but understanding what it was really saying.The beautiful ‘pastoral’ Minuet was played with a simplicity that allowed Beethoven’s rude interjections to bring a smile to his face.And a Trio so finely crafted that the question and answer over a continuous stream of triplets was quite ravishing in its rhythmic perfection.The question and answer of the Rondo was also finely woven and full of rhythmic energy.The glistening stream of jeux perlé silver scales shooting across the keyboard were without any slackening but with a masterly control of sound with the insistent gasps in the left hand .It was an unforgettable way to close a remarkable performance.

Today in Alim’s hands we could hear the gentlest of whispers and savour his refined palette of colour on the sumptuous Steinway concert grand that they had brought in especially for the concert.
I had heard Alim some years ago ,the star student of Tessa Nicholson,at the Purcell School.
Today,after his years of intense study with her at the Royal Academy he has now completed his Master’s Degree with Vanessa Latarche at the Royal College where he will complete his Artist’s Diploma in his third and final year. I heard now a great artist with a refined tone palette of sounds and a musical intelligence that spontaneously recreated the music.He held the audience in his spell from the first to the last note.

Alim had decided,in agreement with the charming people at Richmond concert society, that he would play op 111 instead of the advertised op 110.I remember Stephen Kovacevich trying the piano in our theatre in Rome and asking if I would mind if he played the Schubert A major sonata instead of the last B flat.The piano,the hall,the atmosphere and above all the artist were more attuned to giving a worthy interpretation of the penultimate sonata rather than the last in that moment.Alim gave a masterly performance and ,as he said in his introduction,a young artist has to start to climb the mountain some time!I will not say he conquered the mountain but then does anyone?What he did do was to show us a vision that was memorable for its fresh close look at the score and to transmit what he found with a poetic freshness that must have been the core of the inspiration of a genius.I doubt the deep rumble in the bass at the end of the introduction has ever been more menacing as it’s whisper took us finally to the home key of C. But that is only an arrival marked ‘f’ because what comes after is the real start of the sonata and is marked ‘ff’.Small details but fundamental for the structure of such a monumental work.The moments of rest from this boiling cauldron were played with a ravishing control of sound without ever loosing sight of the burning intensity that was waiting to erupt.There was a long religious wait at the end of a long cloud of C – home at last – at the end of the first movement.Barely touching the keys of the Arietta he created an atmosphere where we the audience were drawn in to the ravishingly noble story that was unfolding from Alim’s poetic hands.Alim hardly moves when he plays ,there is no extraneous physical show as his total concentration and masterly control allows the notes to speak for themselves – ‘Je sens,je joue,je transmets.’This as Rubinstein showed us in his Indian summer is the height of maturity where true love of music transcends one’s own persona.The variations were allowed to evolve in such a natural way that Alim’s technical perfection passed unnoticed .There was a remarkable control of sound and tempo in the long communing from the murmured bass fragments reaching out on high to the celestial vision that will miraculously appear on the last page.These fragments come together on a vibration of celestial sounds that could never be called anything as mundane as trills in Alim’s magic hands.Beethoven’s vision of paradise was indeed celestial as revealed to us today.Alim at 25 shows signs of a maturity way above his age.

Playing of ravishing beauty as he showed us the two sides of Beethoven.From the unexpectedly exquisitely shaped op 10.n.3 finishing with the magical vibration of sounds of op 111 on which Beethoven floats on high his final thoughts of a paradise already in view.
Liszt transcendental studies that were real miniature tone poems.
Has ‘Ricordanza ‘ever sounded as beautiful as if it was Liszt’s own ‘Benediction’ ?Petri came near but Alim today even nearer!
The wild passionate fervour of the F minor study with at last the rhythmic clarity that Liszt demands.Calmed by the ravishing sounds of evening only to be led into the terrifying blizzard depicted in Chasse Neige.
Playing that when he decided to relinquish his masterly control was breathtaking in it’s wild abandon.

Alim presenting his programme to a very attentive audience

The D major Prelude by Rachmaninov was played with the same subtle poetry and stillness that evoked the young Richter .And the mighty E flat minor Etude -Tableau was breathtaking in it’s aristocratic passionate abandon.
Rage over a lost penny was his way of thanking the eclectic audience in Richmond in their 61st season that has seen some of the greatest artist of the age.They can now add Alim to that illustrious list .

I should also add that Alim is one of the nicest,simplest people I know and I was very touched by his consideration for me today.But the greatest artists are always the simplest ,you see ,as their souls have found peace and satisfaction in being able to comunicate the message hidden in music to others.

‘A Star is Born: Liszt’s Transcendental Studies from Alim Beisembayev
A necessary purchase for all lovers of piano music. Alim Beisembayev is the real deal ‘ Colin Clarke

‘ The Leeds International Piano Competition winner in Autumn 2021 was hailed as a worthy prizewinner all round. Now 24, the UK-trained Kazakh pianist, Alim Beisembayev, has turned his considerable energies to the mind-boggling virtuosity required in Liszt’s 12 Études d’exécution transcendante. If he doesn’t quite make them sound as easy as pie, he certainly delivers them with beguiling nonchalance, a gleaming touch and unflappable clarity, aided and abetted by superb recorded sound.’ Jessica Duchen

Born in Kazakhstan in 1998, Alim has already performed with the State Academic Symphony Orchestra of Russia “Evgeny Svetlanov”, Moscow State Symphony and Fort-Worth Symphony, and at Royal Festival Hall and Wigmore Hall. During his time at the Purcell School he won several awards, including First Prize at the Junior Cliburn International Competition. Alim was taught by Tessa Nicholson at school and continued his studies with her at the Royal Academy of Music. He is currently completing his master’s degree at the Royal College of Music with Professor Vanessa Latarche. He is generously supported by numerous scholarships such as the ABRSM, the Countess of Munster, Hattori Foundation, the Drake Calleja Fund trusts, and belongs to the Talent Unlimited charity scheme.Alim Beisembayev won First Prize at The Leeds International Piano Competition in September 2021, performing Rachmaninov’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and Andrew Manze. He also took home the Audience Prize and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Society Prize for contemporary performance, with The Guardian praising him as a “worthy winner” with a “real musical personality”.Highlights of the 2021/22 season include debuts with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic (under Case Scaglione), BBC Symphony Orchestra (Clemens Schuldt), RCM Symphony Orchestra (Sir Antonio Pappano) and SWR Symphonieorchester Stuttgart (Yi-Chen Lin). Recent and forthcoming recitals include the Wigmore Hall, Southbank Centre, Oxford Piano Festival, Bath Mozartfest, St George’s Bristol, and Chopin Institute in Warsaw, in addition to a tour of Europe, in association with the Steinway Prizewinner Concerts Network, and Korea, with the World Culture Network. His debut release with Warner Classics was released in September 2021 — an EP featuring Scarlatti, Ligeti and Ravel.

Wherever there is something special you will find Mike Oldham – master page turner too
St Margaret of Scotland – Twickenham

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