A quite extraordinary concert venue in Livorno in Carlo Palese’s per PIANO series .A new partnership with the Keyboard Trust brought Simone Tavoni to give a recital under the wings of flying dinosaurs – ‘on wings of song’ one might say!The beasts fished locally in the sand and now suspended from the ceiling for all to see in the splendid Museum of the Mediterranean.
A recital of Beethoven,Clementi,Schubert and Brahms but with encores that included an improvisation based on the local waves followed by a Mendelssohn song without words- the beautifully simple 33rd. Simone swore that he could hear some movement above his head as he played but fortunately it only seemed to add to the poetic performances that were being enticed out of the magnificent concert grand placed at their feet!
Beethoven’s early variations on an original theme were played with all the chameleonic character that created such turmoil in Beethoven’s turbulent early life. From the beauty and simplicity of the theme through the rhythmic energy and characterisation of the variations and the brilliance and virtuosity of the ending before the gentle return to the opening beauty and simplicity.Played by Simone with great authority and technical command together with a poetic sensibility that brought these neglected variations vividly to life. There was great drama and weight to the opening of Clementi’s Sonata op 50 n.1 .An important work of Beethovenian proportions but with a digital brilliance for which Clementi was a renowned advocate,as every pianist knows from his collection of studies ‘Gradus as Parnassum’.It was played with brilliance and virtuosity but also an architectural shape that made one wonder why it is not more often heard in the concert hall. A slow movement with the deeply profound long sustained melodic lines played with a chiselled cantabile of great beauty.The last movement had a dance like rhythmic drive and buoyancy and was played with passionate commitment.
A short break allowed Carlo Palese to give a brief historic guide to the Schubert and Brahms that was to follow. It was in the Schubert and Brahms that the resonance of the hall gave great weight and poignancy to the long melodic lines and orchestral sounds that were allowed to vibrate around this cavernous animal farm. The dramatic Beethovenian opening of the first impromptu op 142 contrasted so well as it dissolved into the sublime beauty of the central episode.The question and answer over a gently moving accompaniment was beautifully realised with Simone giving all the time necessary for the music to speak with such moving eloquence. The second Impromptu was allowed to unfold even more generously with simplicity and luminosity.The waves of sound in the central episode were greatly helped by the resonance of the hall. Brahms Intermezzo op 118 n 2 was played with an aristocratic simplicity that allowed the music to unfold so naturally. The Two Rhapsodies op 79 were given performances of great orchestral colour dissolving into melodic lines of sumptuous beauty.Helped by the resonant accoustic Simone produced rich sounds of great fluidity and heroic drive.
They brought this short recital to a brilliant conclusion to which Simone created his own waves and ‘wings of song’ where words were superfluous when his playing could speak so much more eloquently and poetically under the dinosaurs wings.
The three Sonatas of Op 50 by Clementi are dedicated to his fellow Italian who had made a splendid career in Paris, Luigi Cherubini.There is good reason to believe, however, that Clementi had composed much of this music years earlier, and had intended it as the second instalment of Op 40. Perhaps some unfavourable reviews of his music around 1800 contributed to a certain caution about publishing his work; a notice in a Leipzig journal from 1807 refers to several major new compositions of his which Clementi ‘is determined not to release to the public until he has satisfied himself that they are perfect’.
The first sonata of Op 50, in A major, has an opening movement with something of the transparent texture and lyrical melody that Clementi seemed to associate with this key, as in his Sonata Op 33 No 1, and even as far back as Op 2 No 4. For a slow movement Clementi writes a rather leisurely two-voice canon flanked by two statements of a lugubrious, harmonically potent Adagio sostenuto e patetico that anticipates the subject of the canon in its middle section. The finale, a spritely Allegro vivace, mixes traditional harmonies with the distinctly nineteenth-century sound of the expanded upper range of the piano.
Schubert’s Impromptus are a series of eight pieces for solo piano composed in 1827. They were published in two sets of four : the first two pieces in the first set were published in the composer’s lifetime as Op. 90; the second set was published posthumously as Op. 142 in 1839 (with a dedication added by the publisher to Franz Liszt)
The Six Pieces for Piano, Op. 118, are some of the most beloved compositions that Brahms 8wrote for solo piano. Completed in 1893 and dedicated to Clara Schumann,the collection is the penultimate composition published during Brahms’ lifetime. It is also his penultimate work composed for piano solo. Consistent with Brahms’s other late keyboard works, Op. 118 is more introspective than his earlier piano pieces, which tend to be more virtuosic in character.
The Rhapsodies, Op. 79, for piano were written by Brahms in 1879 during his summer stay in Portschach,when he had reached the maturity of his career. They were inscribed to his friend, the musician and composer Elisabeth von Herzogenberg.At the suggestion of the dedicatee, Brahms reluctantly renamed the sophisticated compositions from “Klavierstücke” (piano pieces) to “rhapsodies “
Shunta Morimoto made his London orchestral debut with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra as his prize for winning the Hastings International Piano Competition.A competition that has grown in stature in it’s fifty year or so existence that thanks to Vanessa Latarche and her team have turned a bauble into a gem.A competition that draws great young talent worldwide to compete for a chance to play with the historic Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.
Last year a seventeen year old Japanese boy swept the board winning a unanimous vote from the audience and jury even though competing against prodigiously talented young colleagues.One of the jury members ,Stanislav Ioudenitch,winner of the Van Cliburn Competition in 2001,exclaimed that Shunta was the most talented young musician he had ever come across.Shunta’s appearance at the 2019 young Cliburn competition was noted when his you tube performances at such a young age went viral on internet platforms.His you tube performance of Rachmaninov Third Piano Concerto in Tokyo at the age of 15 created a similar sensation.Luckily this now teenage prodigy encountered William Grant Naboré who was giving classes in Japan and he agreed to take Shunta under his wing.He has been supervising his prodigious talent at his home in Rome where Shunta is also enrolled at the S.Cecilia Conservatory.
Naboré,founder of the International Piano Academy in Lake Como insists that a young musician should learn as much repertoire as possible at a very early age.Repertoire that should consist mainly of the great classics of the piano repertoire in order to expand horizons and goals.It would have been so easy for Shunta to do the rounds playing Rachmaninov Third Concerto and Liszt Venezia e Napoli and to be feted by a world hungry to see a note spinning wizz kid.It was Rachmaninov who told the child prodigy Shura Cherkassky that he would only consider teaching him if he gave up all public performances in order to study calmly and in depth without a public deadline looming up on the horizon.Hoffman on the other hand was very happy to teach the young Shura and allow him to be exploited as a ‘wunderkind’as he himself had been.Of course Shura’s parents would have been aghast at the thought of not being able to promote this child as a prodigy – Shura had even discovered at the end of his life on his return home to Odessa when he was in his eighties ,that they had taken two years off his birth date.
It was on Naboré’s insistence the reason that Shunta won the first prize in Hastings not playing Rachmaninov or Liszt but presenting the Schumann Piano Concerto.A concerto full of poetry and beauty where a real understanding of the deep inner meaning within the notes and a sense of style and architectural shape are fundamental to a meaningful interpretation.It was this the reasoning, too,behind making his orchestral debut with Beethoven’s most poetic and pastoral Fourth concerto rather than the imperious and more spectacular Emperor.Shunta will though be playing Liszt’s First Concerto with the RPO in May.So all work and no play ……..as the saying goes and Shunta certainly knows how to play.In the meantime he has acquired a maturity way above his eighteen years.Added to a technical mastery and an inquisitive searching musicality it led to one of the most extraordinary performances of Beethoven’s most poetic concerto that I have heard.
From the opening chords it was obvious that we were going to hear something very special.Five bars in which one can immediately appreciate the musicianship and the ability to control sound and colour and which show the pedigree of a true interpreter.It was indeed a trial of fire for a young pianist making his much vaunted debut with a world famous orchestra that was just waiting to reply to his opening golden gauntlet.Shunta chose the ideal tempo that was to colour the whole movement but also a subtlety of phrasing that managed to capture the spirit of improvisation that was obviously Beethoven’s intent.The magical dovetailing of the final three notes were thrown off with the same aristocratic ease that I remember of Rubinstein.
The tempo was immediately picked up by the twenty six year old Adam Hickox whose fluidity and beauty of movements were mirrored by Shunta’s natural ease and intense concentration.Infact throughout the performance it was a joy to see them looking at each other as in a real chamber music ensemble with one inspiring the other on a musical voyage of discovery of which we were privileged eavesdroppers.Shunta’s seemless runs were like streaks of silver blossoming into trills that were mere vibrations of ravishing beauty.Dynamic drive was contrasted with the same artistocratic timeless melodic outpouring which Beethoven surprisingly marks pianissimo and espressivo.But this was a pianissimo of real weight that carried the golden sounds above the orchestra to the back of the hall.A magic trick of balance and relaxed weight.It is like an actor that has a diaphragm that can project the words “I love you’ with the same intensity to those in the front row of the theatre as those in the ‘Gods’.It is a technical mastery allied to the supreme artistry of only the greatest of interpreters.There was such playfulness as he accompanied the duet between the bassoon and the clarinet commenting with glistening cascades of notes gently tumbling downwards only to be regenerated.There was magic in the air as he accompanied the orchestra leading to the violence of sforzandi that Shunta was not afraid to chisel with brilliance and dynamic rhythmic energy.Leading to the long held trills that dissolved into a moment of sublime inspiration that Beethoven marks dolce e con espressione.Beethoven’s sublime inspiration was also Shunta’s in a moment where time seemed to stand still.Playing the long cadenza of the two that Beethoven had written out – they were most probably improvised by the composer and written down only afterwards.Shunta managed to convey this improvisary maze searching for a way out.The great bass octaves of the opening rhythmic pattern were given a desolate beseeching cry that led to a long golden belcanto embellishment that Shunta played with improvised freedom.Unwinding into the trill where the orchestra enters in what must be the most magical unwinding of a cadenza of all time.A moment of pure magic- Beethoven’s but aided by Shunta and Adam and the superb musicians of the RPO.
Talking to Shunta after the performance he could not understand why he did not feel he had found the same inspiration as in the dress rehearsal in the Andante con moto second movement.It was certainly not evident to the public or the orchestral musicians as Shunta barely stroked the keys in reply to their insistent rhythmic assertions.He held us all in his spell until the tumultuous long trill over which there is a questioning and answering of unexpected violence.It was this passage that Martha Argerich remembered from her childhood ,of hearing a performance by Arrau of such towering authority that she never attempted to play this concerto herself.Shunta played it with force and dynamism,never harsh or ungrateful but of overpowering energy and effect.It dissolved into the final whispered cadence where Shunta’s perfect ability to project the most delicate of sounds created an atmosphere that only the whispered energy of the Rondo could interrupt.A final note that Shunta was able to allow to shine like the jewel in the crown it truly is .A Rondo of great freedom and charm with Beethoven’s startling bursts of energy magnificently realised by Shunta and the orchestra.Interrupted by the ‘short’ cadenza that Beethoven himself penned that was played with a dry rhythmic drive that opened the gates to the final bars of this masterpiece.Final bars played with delicacy and eloquence mixed with driving rhythmic fury.
By great demand Shunta was invited by the orchestra and conductor to play an encore.No lollipops or teasing crowd pleasers but a deeply meditative Intermezzo op 116 by Brahms that surprisingly for us all turned into a scintillating Sarabande by Rameau.An ornamentation of well oiled springs that would have made even Sokolov proud.
Two for the price of one and is typical of this voyage of continual discovery .The exhilaration of sharing his euphoric discovery and love of music with us.It is a sign of the joy he will continue to share so generously with a world that awaits in a long and prosperous career.
Beethoven’s fourth piano Concerto op 58 was composed in 1805–1806 and was premiered in March 1807 at a private concert of the home of Prince Franz Joseph von Lobkowitz.The Coriolan Overture and the Fourth Symphony were premiered in that same concert.However, the public premiere was not until a concert on the 22 December 1808 at Vienna’s Theater an der Wien .Beethoven again took the stage as soloist. The marathon concert saw Beethoven’s last appearance as a soloist with orchestra, as well as the premieres of the Choral Fantasy and the Fifth and Sixth symphonies.Beethoven dedicated the concerto to his friend, student, and patron, the Archduke Rudolph
A review in the May 1809 edition of the Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung states that ” this concerto is the most admirable, singular, artistic and complex Beethoven concerto ever”.However, after its first performance, the piece was neglected until 1836, when it was revived by Felix Mendelssohn.
A superb Grieg Piano Concerto from Gabrielé Sutkuté with the YMSO under their genial artistic director James Blair. From the very first famous declaration of intent Gabrielé played with great authority and dynamic drive. It gave new life to this much loved warhorse as this young Lithuanian looked afresh at the score and imbued it with the same crystalline purity that had secured her recently the top award at the Royal College of Music.
It was in the cadenza that she really took charge as she attacked the great climax like the tiger she can be.But before that she had created a magic atmosphere as she floated the melodic line on a wave of sound that she had created by her sumptuously played arpeggiandi. If the slow movement was not quite chiselled enough to soar above the sumptuous orchestral sounds it was because she loved it so much that she wanted to integrate totally with her superb young companions.
The final movement was played with wild abandon and a coda at breathtaking speed. The final glorious outpouring of melodic sounds from the orchestra allowed her to soar across the keyboard with cascades of notes with fearless virtuosity and abandon. She even had the strength to roar like a Lion in the final triumphant declamation that Grieg had reserved for the piano in his one and only concerto much admired by Liszt.
Many of Gabrielé illustrious colleagues and teachers had come to applaud her and witness the triumphant success that she had truly earned.
The Piano Concerto in A minor, Op. 16 was composed by Edvard Grieg in 1868, was the only concerto Grieg completed and is one of his most popular works.The work is among Grieg’s earliest important works, written by the 24-year-old composer in 1868 in Sollerod ,Denmark, during one of his visits there to benefit from the climate.The work was premiered by Edmund Neupert on 3 April 1869, in Copenhagen, with Holger Simon Paulli conducting. Some sources say that Grieg himself, an excellent pianist, was the intended soloist, but he was unable to attend the premiere owing to commitments with an orchestra in Christiania (Oslo).Among those who did attend the premiere were the Danish composer Niels Gade and the Russian pianist Anton Rubinstein who provided his piano for the occasion.The Norwegian premiere in Christiania followed on August 7, 1869, and the piece was later heard in Germany in 1872 and England in 1874. At Grieg’s visit to Franz Liszt in Rome in 1870, Liszt played the notes at sight before an audience of musicians and gave very good comments on Grieg’s work which would later influence him.The concerto is the first piano concerto ever recorded—by pianist Wilhelm Backhaus in 1909. Due to the technology of the time, it was heavily abridged and ran only six minutes.On April 2, 1951, the Russian-born American pianist Simon Barere collapsed while playing the first few bars of the concerto, in a performance with conductor Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra at Carnegie Hall in New York.He died backstage shortly afterwards.It was to have been Barere’s first performance of the work.
Gabrielé joined the audience after the interval to witness a superb performance of Mahler’s mighty Sixth Symphony.The piano had disappeared to accommodate the vast forces in this work of evil machinations contrasted with moments of sumptuous radiance.It was conducted with great conviction and subtlety as the young forces played their hearts out in a truly mesmerising performance.The monumental first movement is the true heart of this work with it’s brooding insistence and military style attack (we had used it with devastating effect in Rome for the sound track on stage of “Mourning becomes Electra’ by Eugene O’Neil.The Andante moderato was played with sumptuous sound from the strings with a flexibility of great subtlety and ravishing beauty.
Maxim Kinasov came on stage and threw himself into the keyboard with the same animal like ferocity that I have not seen since Richter.Infact it reminded me so much of Richter to see this young man so enveloped in the sounds that he was producing.Pulling,punching caressing the most wondrous rich sounds out of the piano.An Intermezzo dedicated to Brahms by Slonimsky opened his programme of dedications – to Brahms,Paganini,Bach and finally to the oppression of World War Two with Prokofiev’s 7th Sonata ,one of the Trilogy of War Sonatas.
From the very first notes Maxim’s fingers were like limpets on the keys .His whole body was engaged in the music that was being reproduced in a voyage of discovery that was quite hypnotic and mesmerising.An outpouring lament of sumptuous sounds .A deep yearning as the variations unfolded ,a kaleidoscope of colour with trills gleaming like jewels .There was an animal like urgency of cascades of notes ending in a silence of such aching poignancy.Like an animal let loose on the keys with that same hypnotic ferocity of Richter and the same total mastery.A ferocious passion that swept all before it.
From the opening theme of Paganini it was obvious that we were in for an exhilarating performance of Brahms’s notoriously difficult variations.The beautifully shaped theme led to variations of such differing character all played with a continuous driving forward movement .Even the beautiful second ‘poco animato’ was on a great wave carrying all with it on its long voyage.There was charm too in the eighth variation that contrasted with the overpowering force of the ninth and tenth.There was ravishing beauty in the poco Andante before the tumultuous whirlwind of the final Presto.What grandeur at the end!I doubt this piano has ever sounded so ‘grand’ as in the velvet gloved hands of this giant of a pianist.
The Bach/Siloti Prelude in B minor was played with a simplicity and a magical sense of colour but there was also a certain solidity to the sound that gave it an austere reverent importance.
The Prokofiev Sonata unleashed the same unconventional ferocity that I remember from its dedicatee Sviatoslav Richter when he played it in London in 1971.I was a student in my final years at the Royal Academy and i remember being overwhelmed by a force of nature that broke all the conventional rules that had been imbued in me in that noble institution.I remember my wife thinking she had made a mistake in an acting exam and being told by a great Italian artist:’But there are no rules just convince me.’And my God Richter certainly did that as Maxim did today too.From the very first call to arms of ferocity and clarity.Through the sumptuous beauty of the Andante with it’s swirling visions of desolation in a hoped for paradise.The final brutality of the Precipitato with a driving intensity that swept Maxim on to impossible heights where the rhythms kept him afloat and notes became superfluous.The hysterical excitement of the final breathtaking pages were greeted by cheers from an audience hypnotised by a truly great artist.Headed for the heights this tormented soul finds home only at the keyboard like Richter or Beethoven even!
Chapeau Maestro I am proud to be able to say that I heard you at the beginning of your illustrious career
Maxim Kinasov is the First Prize Winner of more than 10 prestigious international piano competitions around the world, including UK ‘s 2022 Birmingham International Piano Competition and 2022 Windsor International Piano Competition, and 2019 Cantù International Piano and Orchestra Competition and 2014 Chopin Roma International Piano Competition in Italy . He also won Second Prizes in prestigious 2019 Hastings International Piano Concerto Competition ( UK ) and 2015 Gian Battista Viotti International Piano Competition ( Italy ). In 2017, he graduated with distinction from Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatoire in the class of Sergei Dorensky and moved to the UK to study at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester. In 2018, Maxim won the RNCM Gold Medal and played in the Gold Medal Winners concert at Wigmore Hall in March 2019. Also, he was selected as a Kirckman Concert Society Artist for 2019-20 and played his full-length solo debut at Wigmore Hall in October 2019. He completed his International Artist Diploma degree in 2021 at the RNCM in the class of Ashley Wass . Maxim performed internationally with the most prestigious orchestras in the UK and abroad, such as the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, The Hallé, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, RNCM Symphony Orchestra , Orchestra of the Teatro Carlo Felice , St Petersburg State Academic Symphony Orchestra and the European Union Chamber Orchestra .
Absolutely delighted to play my debut recital at St Mary’s Perivale “New Faces” Festival in London last Sunday.
Big thanks to Hugh Mather and Christopher Axworthy for your invitation to play in this wonderful venue!
And also thank you Christopher Axworthy for the lovely 𝗿𝗲𝘃𝗶𝗲𝘄, which you can read below:
“𝗠𝗮𝘅𝗶𝗺 𝗞𝗶𝗻𝗮𝘀𝗼𝘃 came on stage and threw himself into the keyboard with the same animal like ferocity that I have not seen since Richter. (…)
An Intermezzo dedicated to Brahms by 𝗦𝗹𝗼𝗻𝗶𝗺𝘀𝗸𝘆 opened his programme of dedications (…) From the very first notes Maxim’s fingers were like limpets on the keys. (…) a voyage of discovery that was quite hypnotic and mesmerising. A deep yearning as the variations unfolded, a kaleidoscope of colour with trills gleaming like jewels. (…) A ferocious passion that swept all before it. (…)
From the opening theme of 𝗣𝗮𝗴𝗮𝗻𝗶𝗻𝗶 (…) we were in for an exhilarating performance of 𝗕𝗿𝗮𝗵𝗺𝘀’s notoriously difficult variations. The beautifully shaped theme led to variations of such differing character all played with a continuous driving forward movement. (…) this piano has ever sounded so ‘grand’ as in the velvet gloved hands of this giant of a pianist.
The 𝗕𝗮𝗰𝗵/𝗦𝗶𝗹𝗼𝘁𝗶 Prelude in B minor was played with a simplicity and a magical sense of colour but there was also a certain solidity to the sound that gave it an austere reverent importance. (…)
The 𝗣𝗿𝗼𝗸𝗼𝗳𝗶𝗲𝘃 Sonata unleashed the same unconventional ferocity that I remember from its dedicatee Sviatoslav Richter (…) Through the sumptuous beauty of the Andante with its swirling visions of desolation in a hoped for paradise. The hysterical excitement of the final breathtaking pages were greeted by cheers from an audience hypnotised by a truly great artist. (…)
Chapeau Maestro, I am proud to be able to say that I heard you at the beginning of your illustrious career.”
A complete concert together for two remarkable musicians who up until today had only played in various festive occasions but never had a chance to play an entire recital together.The delicacy and sensitivity of Mengyang were complimented by the musicianship and showmanship of Ilya.Both had completed their training in the class of Vanessa Latarche at the Royal College so their musical pedigree was assured.Both have now been elevated to professorships at the Royal College.Two virtuosi who have mastered much of the solo piano repertoire but have the humility and responsibility of helping young musicians.Encouraging them to put aside their newly acquired skills and to focus on listening to themselves and translating the composers wishes into sounds.A concert of duet ‘lollipops’ in the sense that they presented a programme of well known duets by great composers.It was just this that showed off their remarkable pedigree as they presented these works with a freshness and intelligent musicianship that made one realise what gems they can be in the right hands.
Four hands!Means just that but also four feet .It also needs a policeman to decide the logistics of the different height of the stool and also who is to turn the pages and when.I remember Benjamin Britten ‘complaining’ that in his duo with Richter he would suddenly find two great feet on his as they fought for the pedals.In the passion of the moment Richter’s great temperament took over from Britten’s more gentlemanly control.The most important thing of course is a sense of balance that allows the musical line to shine through.These are all things that need real musicians listening with the sensitivity and humility that is necessary for all chamber music ensembles.
Opening with the first of Brahms’ 21 Hungarian Rhapsodies with the passionate tenor sweep from Ilya replied by the delicate cascading notes from Mengyang.It immediately showed their sense of control of sound as the melodic line was passed from the tenor to the soprano.Ilya’s heart beating palpitations in the bass never overshadowing the melodic line that he had now passed to Mengyang.The change of gear in the ‘trio’ section was played with teasing and beguiling style.An opening that immediately established the musical credentials of these two fine musicians.
The Hungarian Dances ) by Johannes Brahms (WoO 1) are a set of 21 lively dance tunes based mostly on Hungarian themes, completed in 1879.They vary from about a minute to five minutes in length. They are among Brahms’s most popular works and were the most profitable for him. In 1850 Brahms met the Hungarian violinist Ede Reményi and accompanied him in a number of recitals over the next few years. This was his introduction to “gypsy-style” music such as the csardas which was later to prove the foundation of his most lucrative and popular compositions.Only numbers 11, 14 and 16 are entirely original compositions.The better-known Hungarian Dances include Nos. 1 and 5, the latter of which was based on the csardas “Bártfai emlék” (Memories of Bártfa ) by Hungarian composer Bela Kéler which Brahms mistakenly thought was a traditional folksong.A footnote on the Ludwig-Masters edition of a modern orchestration of Hungarian Dance No.1 states: “The material for this dance is believed to have come from the Divine Csárdás (ca. 1850) of Hungarian composer and conductor Miska Borzó.”
The Dolly Suite, op.56, consists of six short pieces written or revised between 1893 and 1896, to mark the birthdays and other events in the life of the daughter of the composer’s mistress, Emma Bardac.Fauré wrote or revised the pieces between 1893 and 1896,for Régina-Hélène Bardac (1892–1985), known to her family as Dolly (she was later to become Madame Gaston de Tinan), the young daughter of the singer Emma Bardac,with whom Fauré had a long-running affair.He was in the habit of sending pieces of music, in manuscript, to mark Dolly’s birthdays and other family occasions.The Berceuse, marking Dolly’s first birthday, was a very early piece, composed in 1864 for Suzanne Garnier, the daughter of a family friend. In 1893 Fauré made some small amendments and changed its title from “La Chanson dans le jardin” to “Berceuse” – that is, a cradle song.”Mi-a-ou” was written for Dolly’s second birthday in June 1894.The title does not refer to a pet cat, as has often been supposed,but to Dolly’s attempts to pronounce the name of her elder brother Raoul, who later became one of Fauré’s favourite pupils.The young Dolly called her brother Messieu Aoul, which Fauré took as the original title for the piece.”Le jardin de Dolly”, was composed as a present for New Year’s Day 1895. It contains a quotation from Fauré’s First Violin Sonata composed 20 years earlier.The Bardacs’ pet dog was called Ketty, and in Fauré’s manuscript the piece is called “Ketty-Valse”.’Tendresse”, written in 1896, was originally dedicated to Adela Maddison,wife of a music publisher.The suite ends with a Spanish dance, a lively and picturesque piece of scene-painting, in the style of Espana by Fauré’s friend Emmanuel Chabrier .The first public performance of the suite was given by Alfred Cortot and Edouard Risler in 1898.Fauré himself enjoyed taking part in performances of the work, not only in public but en famille with the young children of his friends.
The Fantasia in F minor by Franz Schubert D.940 (op .posth. 103), is considered by many to be one of Schubert’s most important works for more than one pianist and one of his most important piano works altogether. He began writing the Fantasia in January 1828 in Vienna and it was completed in March of that year, and first performed in May. Schubert’s friend Eduard von Bauernfeld recorded in his diary on May 9 that a memorable duet was played, by Schubert and Franz Lachner.It was dedicated to Caroline Esterházy, with whom Schubert was in (unrequited) love.Schubert died in November that year of 1828 and after his death, his friends and family undertook to have a number of his works published. This work is one of those pieces; it was published by Anton Diabelli in March 1829.
The basic idea of a fantasia with four connected movements also appears in Schubert’s Wanderer Fantasy for solo piano and represents a stylistic bridge between the traditional sonata form and the essentially free-form tone poem.The basic structure of the two fantasies is essentially the same: allegro, slow movement, scherzo, allegro with fugue.The form of this work, with its relatively tight structure (more so than the fantasias of Beethoven and Mozart) was influential on the work of Franz Liszt who arranged the Wanderer Fantasy as a piano concerto, among other transcriptions he made of Schubert’s music.
The Petite Suite was composed from 1886 to 1889, and was first performed on 2 February 1889 by Debussy and pianist-publisher Jacques Durand at a salon in Paris.It may have been written due to a request (possibly from Durand) for a piece that would be accessible to skilled amateurs, as its simplicity is in stark contrast with the modernist works that Debussy was writing at the time.The first two movements are settings of poems from the volume Fetes galantes by Paul Verlaine (1844–1896).
Mengyang Pan was born in China and has been living in the UK since 2000. She began her piano study at the age of three before becoming a junior student at the Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing. At the age of 14, she left China to study at the Purcell School in the UK with professor Tessa Nicholson. Upon graduating with high honours, she went on to complete her musical education at the Royal College of Music training under professor Gordon Fergus-Thompson and Professor Vanessa Latarche.The prize winner of many competitions including Rina Sala Gallo International Piano competition, Bromsgrove International Young Musician’s Platform, Dudley International Piano Competition, Norah Sands Award, MBF Educational Award, Mengyang has performed in many prestigious venues such as the Royal Festival Hall, Wigmore Hall, Cadogan Hall, Bridgewater Hall and Birmingham Symphony Hall amongst many others. As soloist, Mengyang has appeared with many orchestras and her collaboration with conductors such as Maestro Vladimir Ashkenazy, John Wilson and Mikk Murdvee has gained the highest acclaim. Mengyang also finds much joy in teaching. In 2019, Mengyang was appointed piano professor at the Royal College of Music in London, she also teaches at Imperial College
A critically acclaimed pianist, Ilya Kondratiev is the prize-winner of several renowned international music competitions, including Franz Liszt Budapest 2011, Franz Liszt Weimar 2011, the Fifth Tbilisi 2013, Brant Birmingham 2015 and Chappell Gold Medal in 2016. Born in Russia, he studied from the age of seven in Samara with the distinguished teacher Victoria Soifer and, from the age of 16, at the Moscow State Tchaikovsky Conservatory with the People’s Artist of Russia Zinaida Ignatieva. In 2014 he moved to London in order to further his studies at the Royal College of Music under Vanessa Latarche and Sofia Gulyak, graduating with a Master of Performance and an Artist Diploma. Ilya performs extensively as a soloist and chamber music player at venues such as the Great Hall of Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory, Gasteig Munich, Weimarhalle, Palacio de Festivales de Santander, the Palaceof Arts in Budapest and the Great Hall of the Tbilisi Conservatoire. In 2011 Ilya was invited to work with Elisabeth Leonskaya at the Franz Liszt Piano Academy in Schilllingfurst, Germany and with Pavel Gililov at the Eppan Piano Academy in Italy. He has also performed in the masterclasses of Dina Yoffe, Konstantin Shcherbakov, Willem Brons, Dmitry Bashkirov, Jerome Rose, Leslie Howard, Lang Lang and Arie Vardi. In 2015 and 2017 Ilya was invited to the ‘Encuentro’ Festival in Santander and in 2016 appeared as a guest artist in the Gumusluk Festival in Turkey, and the Beethoven Music Festival and Academy in Altaussee
Peter Frankl was born in Budapest in 1935 and is recognised as one of the great pianists of the last century. His father died in a labour camp and he was in the Budapest ghetto in 1944. After studying at the Franz Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest, he won several piano competitions in the late 1950s, and made his London debut in 1962 and first performed in New York in 1967 when he appeared with the Cleveland Orchestra under George Szell. Since then, he has played on the world’s top stages with the most celebrated orchestras and eminent conductors, including Abbado, Boulez, Davis, Haitink, Maazel, Masur, Muti, and Solti. His world tours have taken him to Japan, Korea, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. He has appeared more than 20 times at London’s BBC Proms and at many major festivals. He is also a well- known chamber music performer. For years, the Frankl-Pauk-Kirshbaum Trio travelled the world, and his many chamber music partners include the world’s most renowned artists. He is a much-respected teacher and served as Professor of Piano at the Yale School of Music in USA for 30 years.
In this conversation, he talks about his early life, his subsequent career as an international soloist, chamber musician and teacher, and his reflections on a long and fruitful life as an eminent musician.
From the very first note of Chopin’s first nocturne Lara Melda demonstrated her poise and aristocratic bearing in one of Chopin’s simplest Bel canto outpourings.
Her fingers seemed to belong to the centre of the keys as they extracted a velvet sound of subtlety and ravishing beauty.Not only a regal bearing like Gina Bachauer but the same golden sound of a small hand that clung to each key like a limpet. Gilels had the same way of squeezing golden sounds out of the keys.Even in the most passionate outpouring his sound would only get richer but never hard and ungrateful. Ravishing sounds in Brahms A minor intermezzo op 116 that seemed to disappear into a celestial oblivion as Lara threw herself into the keys with a rhythmically savage Capriccio in D minor.Passion and beauty combined as she ravished the piano extracting sounds of pure golden richness.
This was just a prelude to Chopin’s Sonata in B minor.The first movement was played with aristocratic control but with moments of tenderness and beauty as she allowed the second subject all the time of a great bel canto singer.Over a gentle continuous accompaniment she could weave a golden thread of such elastic freedom knowing that the anchor was always there.There was dynamic drive and control in the development and the triumphant return of the second subject was played with passion tinged with pathos as it led to the majestic final chords. The jeux perlé of the scherzo was played like the last movement of the B flat minor sonata.It is often likened to the wind over the graves but here it was a wind of joyous beauty. The melodic trio was played with great poise as she joined the busy counterpoints together finding a melodic path that gave great shape and strength to this melodic respite before the return of the busy joyous weaving of the opening.
There was grandeur in her announcement of the tender beauty of the Largo.A melodic line of subtle colour and shape that had been hinted at in her opening Nocturne.There was ravishing beauty as the gently floating sounds in the right hand were a continual presence of golden beauty above the utter simplicity of the suggestive tenor melody. Some truly ravishing playing where her overall sheen of sound created a cocoon in which she was free to shape Chopin’s genial creations with kaleidoscopic colours of subtle inflections. The Finale Rondo was breathtaking in its relentless forward movement but also for the transcendental control that allowed her to build the excitement to fever pitch until it spilt over into the scintillating coda. A masterly sense of balance allowed her to add moments of sudden quietness even in the most energetic of moments that allowed her the space to build the sound without any forcing. Infact the whole Sonata reminded me of the sheen of sound that one can appreciate in the magnificent historic recordings of Guiomar Novaes.One of the greatest pianist considered a God in her native Brazil.Her greatest admirer and pupil was our dear friend Nelson Freire who had inherited the sound that we hear today from Lara. A very delicate ‘story’ by Turkish composer Adnan Saygun created an intimate atmosphere of great desolation very similar to the ringing bell landscape of Ravel’s Le Gibet In just forty minutes Lara had ravished,seduced and enriched us with her poetry,intelligence and golden sounds.
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 !
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.
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.
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.
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 medici.tv 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.
Jean Rondeau the Prince of the Harpsichord. An artisan arriving on stage with sleeves rolled up ready to caress and lovingly coax sounds from the beautiful antique box before him. Cherishing every moment he shares with the delicate instrument just as a master violin maker lovingly shapes the wood that with great artistry and mastery he brings to life.Transforming it into a breathing,living instrument of another age. There were filigree embellishments that were like delicately carved Chinese ornaments of refined intertwined golden thread.
But there was also a sense of line and architectural shape that kept us on the edge of our seats for the eighty minutes of continuous music that poured with such simplicity from his hands. A body in continuous motion like on a great wave following the currents of sound that were flowing with such power and inevitability from this beautiful instrument.A body and instrument that become one is a rarity indeed.
I am not competent to go into the details of harpsichord technique or the specialist scholarship that is needed to bring this music to life in an authentic way. But by God I do know when a musical genius is at work. Schumann exclaimed on hearing the young Chopin what could very well apply to Jean Rondeau tonight :’Hats off ,Gentlemen,a genius !‘
Inna Faliks in London to play for the first time in the JE3 Arts centre. Telling her story of growing up in Odessa under the Soviet regime and even playing on the red piano in the room allocated to her family. A three room appartment allocated to seven people! Immigration was the word used in 1988 when the family prepared to flee to a freer life in the USA. Now head of piano at UCLA in Los Angeles she came to London to share her story with us.
Eloquent as a poet but above all an eloquence in music that is so immediate and simple as every note touched places that other musicians can rarely reach.
A first half opening with Shchedrin’s athletic Basso Ostinato.Like a tiger being let out of cage as Inna ravaged this magnificent Yamaha piano with devilish glee .A ‘coup du theatre’ indeed after which we needed the calm aristocratic sounds of Bach’s knotty twine. Jan Freidlin’s Ballade in Black and White was composed for Inna who gave it’s premiere in 2011 in Carnegie Hall.It was played with a clarity and total conviction that was enthralling. After Bach it was Mozart to calm the air now with a performance of his D minor Fantasy of great simplicity and beauty. The ‘Maiden’s Wish’ was played with wondrous jeux perlé in the style of the pianists of another age,that of pure gold.Scintillating exuberance and aristocratic style made one wonder why this little gem has been so rarely heard in the concert hall since the grandiloquence of Arrau.
Following with the most famous of showpieces :’ La Campanella’.Paganini and Liszt in cahoots to beguile and seduce with seemingly impossible pianistic gymnastics. Inna played it with amazing clarity and insinuating charm with a kaleidoscope of colours that made this old war horse shine as new. Streams of gold and silver sounds were thrown off with an ease and precision that were breathtaking in their audacity. The mighty Polonaise Fantasie,from which this moving tale takes its name,was played with aristocratic style and ravishing beauty. There was an architectural shape of such intelligence that restored this work to the Olympian heights of beauty and originality penned at the end of Chopin’s all too short life.It gave great meaning to a work that can sometimes,in lesser hands,appear simply fragmented and structurally weak. Inna showed us the revolutionary originality of the form that is free but in a highly original frame where Chopin’s genius shines through every bar. Inna had realised this as she saw in this masterpiece a road plan of her own extraordinary life.
The most moving part was to come,both in words and in music,as Inna described the reappearance of Mischa Shpigelmacher in her life. Out of the blue an old schoolboy friend suddenly appears at her concerts. A spark is felt as she decides to turn down a sumptuous after concert supper and to flee to Paris with Mr Shpigelmacher becoming fast best friends and an obvious kindred spirit for life. Now happily married with two teenage children Mr and Mrs Shpigelmacher are still best friends and enjoying together this moving celebration of love in London.
What better music could there be than Beethoven’s op 126 Bagatelles. Ravishing beauty and quixotic changes of character they were played with the true mastery of someone who listens to the sounds she is creating. A purity of sound with a fluidity where bar lines seemed not to exist .Even Beethoven’s precise pedal makings in the third were translated into the magical disintegration of the melodic line.A magic disappearing trick interpreted as Beethoven obviously intended. It contrasted with the ferocious fourth that in turn dissolves into a bagpipe drone on which a fragmented melodic line is allowed to float as if suspended in air. The purity of the melodic line in the fifth was a lesson in how to let the composers words speak for themselves without any personal intervention from the mere performer. ‘Je sens,je joue,je trasmets’. The tornado that is unleashed in the sixth broke the spell but created another even more mysterious cloud of sounds where mere words have no place. Like in the last great trilogy of Sonatas,in particular op 111,the fragments of melody were floated on a bass pedal note like puffs of smoke that Beethoven could see with the vision of the paradise that awaits. With subtle intelligence and scholarship she could turn these baubles into gems. Penned in the last moments of Beethoven’s life when he could find the serenity that had eluded him all his life.
Inna imbued them with the same love that she communicated so movingly in this personal story.One that has become even more poignant for the events that are unfolding with disturbing intensity in her homeland where her soul still abides. Dedicating the performance to her family:her parents,Irene and Simon Faliks who were brave enough to leave the USSR when they did. Her husband and best friend,then and now,Misha Shpigelmacher.Her two children,Nathaniel and Frida,as well as to anyone who has ever left a place in search of a better life. If music be the food of love,play on!
What a story! Simple great music pouring from a sensitive soul as she communicates the remarkable adventure that is her life. Fragments pieced together on a constant bass undercurrent which is love itself. No greater story could there be than this extraordinary ‘Love of life’.