It may seem strange to see a foto of St Peter’s Basilica here but thanks to the skill of Hugh Mather ,Roger Nellist and their superb team in Perivale I have been able to listen to the recital by Yuanfan Yang here in the theatre where he will be performing for the Keyboard Trust in January 2020.
I am very proud after listening today to announce his Italian Tour that will include Venice,Padua,Vicenza,Viterbo and Rome – The tour that another of Hugh Mathers star pianists,Ilya Kondratiev completed just a month ago.
I have heard Yuanfan Yang many times since that first occasion when he won the Liszt Society UK Competition with a superbly poetic account of Vallee d’Obermann.
He was just coming to the end of his studies with Murray McLachlan at Chetham’s and in 2015 was about to start his first term at the Royal Academy studying with Christopher Elton.
He swept the board last november in Rome winning first prize at the Rome International Piano Competition directed by the indomitable Marcella Crudeli (the Fanny Waterman of Italy)
I had indicated to the Jury that they might like Yuanfan to improvise an encore after his superb prize winning performance of Beethoven’s 3rd Piano Concerto.
He did just that and created the same sensation that he did today for Hugh in Perivale with an incredible display of musicianship and virtuosity that is very rare these days.
Gabriela Montero is the only other pianist I know that can do that and quite rightly has a great following for her improvisations .
It is good to see how a young talented musician can mature and gradually acquire a true depth of sound.Spending all the hours needed at the keyboard but with superb musicians at his side making sure that no damage is done to his natural musicality on the long journey to becoming a great professional.
Today as we were aware Yuanfan Yang’s musicality is not only intact but of an intelligence and with a sense of style of someone much older.
The Brahms Handel Variations op 24 that closed the programme I have written about recently in his superb performance for Canan Maxton’s Talent Unlimited Showcase Concert:
It was infact one of the finest performances I have heard in public of this monumental work.Today it was just as fine but maybe slightly less perfect than his previous performance.
The overall architectutal line and sense of colour though was even more remarkable.
The repeat of the variations very delicately coloured with some new counterpoint that could in lesser hands sound like a gimmick or at worse rather superficial.
Here is was so subtly done it was an absolute revelation in a work that too often can sound rather heavy and ponderous.
It is one of those works that is given to students together with the Wanderer Fantasy and 32 Variations to acquire a technical assurance too often at the expense of the music!
The opening work was Schumann Carnaval op 9 and I think this may be new to Yuanfan’s repertoire because it received a magnificent performance of such overall perfection that it will now with future performances mature into one of the very finest performances that one could wish to hear.
Such a great sense of style and a rubato and flexibility of the melodic line that was so compelling.
A work I have heard many many times from all the greatest pianists over the years but today listening on the stream from Perivale I was absolutely captivated.
A great sense of cantabile for “Chiarina” that led to a beautifully fluid “Chopin” where the sotto voce repeat was absolute magic.
Such variations in sound from the spiky “Pantalon e Colombine” to the aristocratic “Estrella”.
The superb legato in “Reconnaissance” where the repeated note accompaniment was only evident to us that knew it was there.
Pity not to include “Replique” as some pianists do, like Rachmaninov who added it with great effect.
Beautiful counterpoint alla Cortot in “Valse Noble” and a fleetingly nimble “Papillons”. “Lettres Dansantes” were just that as Coquette was equally beguiling if not over simple.
The grandeur of the “Valse Allemande” only rudely interrupted by the appearance of “Paganini.”So demonic and technically assured I have certainly never heard it played with such assurance in public before.
The final chord illuminated by the pedal so perfectly.Not an easy feat on a Yamaha piano.
A touching sense of rubato in “Aveu” before the total control of the arrival of the Davisbundler.Played with passionate involvement and great sense of grandeur but with tone so full but never hard.
It was just this beauty of sound and sense of balance that was quite breathtaking in the Litanei in Liszt’s arrangement of Schubert’s most perfect melody.
A truly sumptuous sound that came over magnificently on the streaming that I was privileged to hear in Rome today .
A lovely bouquet from a little girl who was invited to play a few notes that Yuanfan then astonished us all with his superb improvisation.
The great sense of ease and enjoyment he comunicated to us was only the confirmation of a major talent arising from this still very young Scottish pianist composer.
The sound on the streaming was superb.Infact I do not ever remember the sound being so full and beautiful in Perivale as it was in Rome today.
Of course the arrival of a major talent played its part too.
Hats off to all those in Perivale that allows the world to share some of the major talents that for many years have been invited to play in this musical Mecca .