Nicola Losito in Steinway’s Hall of Fame

Nicola Losito in Steinway’s Hall of Fame – London
The young Italian pianist Nicola Losito gave his debut recital in London for the Keyboard Charitable Trust.
Still only 22 he was noted a few years ago by Moritz von Bredow one of the KCT Trustees who was on the jury of the International Piano Competition in Osimo when Nicola took first prize.
Having graduated with highest honours from the Tartini Conservatory in Trieste where he studied with Massimo Gon. He is now perfecting his studies at the International Piano Academy in Imola under Leonid Magarius .

Nicola Losito with Moritz von Bredow
Already two CD’s to his name and a string of successes in International Competitions he played under the eagle eye of Paderewski in the magnificent Steinway Hall of Fame.
With all the greatest pianists alive and dead looking on, undaunted he played a programme of Chopin.Haydn and Schumann to a very discerning audience.
Thanking him in his inimitable way, Moritz von Bredow at the end of an exhilarating recital he touched on the very point that was so evident from the very first notes of the recital.
The Chopin studies played with great assurance but above all each one was shaped and coloured like a miniature tone poem.

Nicola Losito with Moritz von Bredow
A true musician with a virtuoso technique that knows no difficulties and can concentrate on the true musical values with all his youthful exuberance and passionate involvement.
Seven studies from op 10 and 25 by Chopin opened the programme.
The first two studies op 10 notorious for the technical challenge they pose were played with a real sense of architectural shape.
The imposing majesty of the left hand in the first study with the arpeggios adding only shape to the melodic line .Very subtly played with some great contrasts always following the melodic line of the majestic bass notes.
The second study of chromatic scales in the right hand was played with a teasing charm worthy of that great disciple of Godowsky ,Jan Smeterlin who was looking on from the wall much bemused.
The third study op 10 was beautifully shaped with a refined sense of rubato and a great sense of direction that made the return of the melody so touching. It was the same sense of style that he brought to the slow op 25 n.7 building up to the great climax before dying away to almost nothing.
I felt op 10.n.4 could have been more scherzando as I well remember in Perlemuter’s hands with the call to changing from one hand to another so clearly marked.
The last two studies from op 10 and op 25 were played with the same passion of the young Chopin who had written them.
The famous Revolutionary Study with Chopin’s dynamics well understood with his yearning from afar for his home land under siege.
The final study op 25 was given a tumultuous performance and this very fine Steinway Grand Piano was made to sound very noble and grand indeed.
The Haydn Sonata in C n.50 Hob XV1 was given a very rhythmic performance but a slightly less Beethovenian sound would have allowed for more character in this Sonata where Haydn’s impish good humour can be so telling.
This was a fine performance of a young man who was enjoying the wondrous sounds of an instrument that Haydn would not have known.
Noretta Conci-Leech and her husband John,the founding fathers of the KCT had flown in especially for the recital. I expect knowing that Nicola was going to play the Carnaval Jest of Vienna by Schumann that was a speciality of Michelangeli who was Noretta Conci-Leech‘s mentor for many years and she became his assistant too.

Noretta Conci-Leech with Nicola Losito
Some beautiful things played with youthful passion and a great sense of forward propulsion. Never allowing the tension to flag for a minute .It lacked the subtle inimitable colouring of Michelangeli’s famous performance but had something of the same electric exuberance that Richter treated us to in those very first recitals he gave in London.

John Leech with Elena Vorotko
Noretta Conci-Leech is often telling me of the care that Michelangeli took over the pedal and fingering.
Almost no pedal in the classics where it is the fingers that have to find the sounds and clarity.And only a little more in the romantics.
A little less pedal in this rather resonant hall tonight would have allowed us to appreciate Nicola’s very subtle rubato and detail .But as one critic present said it was indeed a very “sensuous” performance .
It was that of a very talented young man on the crest of the wave and it was in the passionate Intermezzo that his true personality was fully revealed more than the rather seriously played Scherzino.

Jack Buckley with Nicola Losita and Bryce Morrison with Geoff Cox
A beautiful performance of Chopin’s first nocturne was a fitting way to close this very successful recital in the magnificent space that is The Steinway Hall of Fame .
Moritz was only too happy to thank Steinways for allowing the Keyboard Trust to have a platform in many parts of the world for the extraordinarily talented pianists who only yearn for an audience to share their music with after years of dedication and intensive study.
Many of those associated with the KCT were in fact looking on from the hallowed walls tonight.

Sasha Grynyuk and Bobby Chen in the Hall of Fame
Alfred Brendel,Evgeny Kissin,Leslie Howard all Trustees of the KCT are just a few that were looking on today and I am sure we will see many more KCT artists adorn these walls in the future.
There was a very interesting discussion after the concert with Moritz von Bredow,Elena Vorotko and our founders about the

After concert supper with discussions
creation of an Alumni Association.
One that would unite many of the artists that have been helped by the KCT in an exchange of invaluable ideas and experiences in the music profession.
Birds of a Feather indeed.

Tessa Uys at St Lawrence Jewry

Tessa Uys at St Lawrence Jewry
As Tessa said after her superb performance of Beethoven’s Appassionata she still had the score with our old teacher Gordon Green’s markings from 50 years ago….she said it not me!
We met in the early seventies when we were both in the class of our adorable never to be forgotten mentor Gordon Green at the Royal Academy in London.
Playing in his Friday afternoon masterclass were Philip Fowke,Ann Shasby,Richard McMahon,John Blakley,Simon Rattle,Peter Bithell and Tessa Uys.
Tessa was already playing regularly in her home country of South Africa where she had an established career and would often play through her programmes to us on Friday afternoon.
I remember very well her exquisite performances of Mozart concertos in particular K.291 ,the Schumann Humoresque and indeed the Appassionata that we were to hear today.
I also accompanied her and Josef Frohlich to Harry Blech ( founder of the London Mozart Players ) to play the Cesar Franck Sonata to him.
About fifteen years ago she came to play for us in Rome and what fun we had together with my wife and our entourage of animals that we kept at home.
She gave a memorable recital in our theatre and met up with an old school friend of hers from SA and now our neighbour in Rome.
She reminded me too of the rabbits and host of animals that we had in our house and even after all these years gave me some foto mementos that she had she had kept
Since then I have not heard from Tessa who I presumed must have a big career in her home country that took her away from us.
It is very often the case that many musicians that live in London do not actually perform there.
That is until I saw four recitals announced in St Lawrence Jewry in the centre of London and also a performance of Beethoven’s Fourth Piano Concerto with organ instead of the orchestra.
I was very curious to hear her after all these years and managed to catch one of these recitals last Monday.
It was very refreshing to see that all her impeccable musicianship and technical command were still intact. A very particular musicianship that like Imogen Cooper is very rare in these times of bombastic virtuosity in the place of simple intelligent musicianship.
Myra Hess and Moura Lympany raised by “Uncle Tobbs” – Tobias Matthay even though never lacking in technical ability could make the piano sing with a sense of balance and a seeming simplicity that today can seem so rare.
It is a great lesson when one can hear the music speak and tell a the story that the great composers had imparted to us via their world of sound.
The beautiful Menuett in G minor by Handel in the arrangement of Wilhelm Kempff was allowed to speak with such simplicity.
Anyone who heard Kempff in his later years were made immediately aware of his ability to convince us that the piano could actually sing when in the hands of a true magician and poet.
Radu Lupu is the prime example now of course.

Sir Thomas Beecham’s piano from 1920’s previously housed in St Martin in the Fields
It was this very piece that my wife had chosen in the moving closing moments of “Who’s afraid of Virginia Wolff ” when the wife breaks down as she realised that her child had died.
We used the performance of Idil Biret recorded in one of her recitals in our theatre but we could just as well have used the beautiful performance that Tessa offered us today.
The 15 Hungarian Peasant Songs by Bartok were dispatched with an amazing range of colour and the drone created in the final song was so reminiscent of the peasant bagpipes that fill the street of Rome as the Shepherds come down from the hills at Christmas Time.
So many evocative moments played with a true understanding and fantasy that was quite riveting.
The mighty Appassionata was seen as one whole. From the very opening to the tumultuous final there was a rhythmic propulsion that swept the music on in its inevitability.
Not sure purists would agree with her splitting the hands in the opening semiquaver passages but it did give a strength and assurance that is rarely heard.
Strangely enough the final arpeggiandi in the first movement were played almost as Beethoven had written them and were very assured indeed.

Peter Bithell Yoko Li Guido Agosti Tessa Uys Ursula Oppens
There was not a moment in the whole sonata that did not hold your attention .
Even the Andante con moto was kept very much with a forward looking movement that made the amazing interruption before the Allegro ma non troppo even more astonishing.
I had forgotten that Tessa too had studied in Siena with that great musician Guido Agosti and I could in fact feel his influence in the sonata today.
Tessa had sent me later a foto of her at the final concert in Siena with Agosti and other colleagues Peter Bithell , Ursula Oppens and Yoko Li. She even told me that Lydia Agosti had lent her a concert dress to wear as she had not thought she would be chosen for the final concert of Agosti’s prestigious class.
Agosti was a great musician and could certainly recognise first and foremost the real musicians…..and not!…. in his midst.
Nice to remember her brother the famous political satirist Peter Dirk Uys whose character of Lady Evita Bezuidenhout took London by storm  a few years ago in the Tricycle Theatre.
Not to be missed the last concert in the series on Monday 25th at 13.00 when Tessa will be joined by another distinguished S.A pianist Ben Schoeman in a rare performance of Beethoven’s 5th Symphony for four hands .
On Saturday 30th at St Michael’s Church in Highgate they will perform an even rarer 9th Symphony always in the transcription of Franz Xaver Scharwenka.

Tessa Uys with Bryce Morrison

Vitaly Pisarenko Parisian Summer Nights

Vitaly Pisarenko at Cadogan Hall
What a surprise after a magnificent performance of the Ravel Piano Concerto to be greeted by two such distinguished admirers Graham Johnson and Linn Rothstein

Vitaly Pisarenko Linn Rothstein Graham Johnson
It was Graham who had been so impressed at Vitaly’s Wigmore Hall debut a few years ago when he played that magically  illusive work that is Miroirs
Here at Cadogan Hall now for the first collaboration between the London Mozart Players and the Keyboard Charitable Trust for Kestrel Music Promotions.
The Ravel Concerto beautifully framed by the Faure Pavane and Requiem with the veteran conductor Hilary Davan Wetton with his magnificent City of London Choir of which he has been at the helm since 1989.
On only one full rehearsal in the afternoon they went on to give a superb performance of the Concerto in the very delicate sound world of Ravel .
It was hard to believe after such a performance that it was in fact a first performance for everyone concerned .

Vitaly Pisarenko with Hilary Davan Wetton
The magical sound world into which we are immediately plunged after the crack of the whip with which it begins was beautifully shaped by the pianist in duo with the magical sounds of the harp.
The slightly jazzy melodic sounds that followed the rhythmic opening were realised with the refined good taste of which Ravel was absolute master.
A real chamber music atmosphere was created and the magical cadenza continuing the atmosphere so perfectly with the etherial trills adding that same magic that was so much part of the world of the harp.
The entry of the orchestra after the cadenza was perfectly judged leading to a hint of almost Rachmaninovian grandeur after a movement in which magic was in the air.
The long slow solo by the pianist at the opening of the Adagio was beautifully judged and shaped with a delicacy that drew the audience into these almost intimate confessions and set the atmosphere .
The interplay between orchestral soloists and pianist could have been enjoyed even more.The atmosphere so beautifully created was just waiting for a slightly bolder musical line from the orchestral soloists which would have made the magical interweaving of the piano even more ravishing.
The last movement was spectacular with some astonishing virtuosity from the soloist and a real rhythmic drive that was indeed breathtaking and brought this amazing work to its abrupt close.
An ovation from the audience but also from the orchestra for tonight’s soloist Vitaly Pisarenko

The Bells of St Mary’s Chopin Mathers

Chopin Mathers St Mary’s Chopin Festival
Session 1 Chopin Piano Festival at St Mary’s
And so it was on a balmy night in June that Hugh Mather’s Chopin Festival got under way
Some glorious playing from three very fine pianists of some rare works by Chopin mingled with old favourites.
An illuminating introductory talk by Amit Yahav set the scene for this extraordinary festival that our host had devised to give a platform to 21 young artists who have been part of his stable for some time .
In fact Hugh Mather ,a retired physician ,is now able to dedicate himself to his real passion that has always been music.
Not only a distinguished medical career but also an ex student of the distinguished pianist James Gibb .
In his retirement from the medical profession he can dedicate himself, with that same passion, to organising and giving concerts in St Mary’s and St Barnabas in Ealing where he is also resident organist.
Aided and abetted by his wife Felicity ,also a doctor, and some dedicated helpers he has created a loyal public for the many enormously talented young musicians who after years of dedicated studies yearn only to find a discerning public at the start of their professional careers.
Knowing the difficulties, Dr Mather offers as many professional engagements as he can in this beautiful historic, redundant church of St Mary’s and the much bigger St Barnabas .
He also administers with Vanessa Latarche,head of Keyboard Studies at the RCM and former pupil of Eileen Rowe, the estate of that dedicated teacher and helper of so many distinguished pianist in over 60 years of activity in Ealing.

Colin Stone with Mihai Ritivoiu
The Eileen Rowe scholarship fund has been set up with all her worldly goods to help extraordinary young musicians with their advanced studies.
And so after his Complete Beethoven Sonata Festival two years ago Dr Mather has devised this Chopin Festival with more than 12 hours of Chopin’s music. Including the major works mingled with some refreshing surprises from Chopin’s early years as a refined piano virtuoso.

Amit Yahav
As Amit Yahav pointed out,Chopin found playing in public distasteful and became a society piano teacher on his arrival in Paris at the age of 22 rather than the performing animal that were to become Liszt and Paganini.
His trip to winter in the warmer climes of Spain with George Sand (Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin) leaving Paris as Liszt had done with Countess D’Agoult amid the gossiping tongues of the Parisian Salons.
Chopin was already ill when he went on his ill fated trip to winter in the warmer climes of Majorca.Interesting to know that it was the tempestuous Second Ballade and the Third Scherzo that were composed there .
Diagnosed with tuberculosis on arrival on the mainland in Marseille he spent the next seven years with Sand at her country home outside Paris at Nohant.
These were his happiest and most productive years (op 55/58 etc)with their relationship ending ten years later in 1848 the year of his death.
He was destined to die at the age of 39 weighing only 48 kilos.
A fear of being buried alive lead to his body being buried in Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Paris but his heart was taken where it had always belonged….. to his beloved Poland.
A fascinating introduction from the pianist Amit Yahav who in turn will be playing on Sunday.

Mihai Ritivoiu and Julian Trevelyan
Dr Mather had sent around a wish list to his numerous young musicians of the works of Chopin to see who could propose what and when .
An enormous labour of love that has produced a programme of three days of music with some of the finest young pianists around .
Only two defections caused by tours in America and India offered to two of Hugh’s young star prodigies . Of course there was no doubt that they should be left free with blessings but this left the opening space free for a colleague to fill .

Colin Stone
Colin Stone ,fellow student of James Gibb and Edith Vogel. Despite his youthful looks he is a distinguish professor at the Royal Academy and the Royal Northern College in Manchester and also head of keyboard at Harrow School – the teacher in fact of Aristo Sham a young pianist who is fast making a name for himself in International Competitions.
And so he was able to maintain the very opening work of the Festival with the extraordinarily original Polonaise- Fantasie op 61.
We wish Hin-Yat Tsang great success in America .
A distinguished performance of refined taste as with all three pianists in this first session. The same piano but all with completely different sounds which is the magic trick of balance and a sign of a real listening musician.
The famous Grand Valse brillante op 18 stylishly shaped and played.The colours and relish of a real musician played in between two Nocturnes.

Hugh Mather with Colin Stone
The famous F sharp op 15 .n.2 and the lesser known op 37 n.2 beautifully shaped as were the four rarely performed mazurkas op 41.
Leading to the commanding opening performance of the Polonaise Fantasie.
Chopin’s fantasy world held strictly in reign with a sense of line and rhythmic propulsion that allowed the music to unfold so naturally. It lead so inevitably to the glorious final declamation somewhat reminiscent of the much lesser known Allegro de Concert that will be heard in a later performance by Iyad Sughayer
A completely different sound from Mihai Ritivoiu of secret colours and a velvet sound that was so impressive in the three opening Mazukas op 59. Such subtle colouring of the almost whispered secrets of these real gems of Chopin in which all his yearning for his homeland were so poignantly portrayed.

Mihai Ritivoiu
A scintillating performance of the very rarely performed Variations on a German air “Der Schweizerbub”- Swiss Boy Waltz- with which the sixteen year old Chopin would have astounded his audiences in the salons in Poland .
The same jeux perle of Nikita Magaloff the only other person I have known programme this charming little bauble.
The same charm from Mihai’s hands allowed us to marvel at this neglected bauble that in a real artists hands can be transformed into a gem.
Mihai tells me he learnt it when he too was a teenager and worked on it again for Dr Mather with much more difficulty than in his youth!
A marvellous sense of colour shaped the famous waltz in A flat op 42 and it was the same velvet sound that enveloped the famous Ballade in G minor op 23 that closed his performance.
Some really remarkable sounds not least in the final scales that became washes of sound in his hands interrupting Chopin’s final question and answer.The sign of a true artist that can make an over performed piece sound refreshingly new.

Mihai Ritivoiu and CD of works of Liszt Enescu and Franck
His new CD was on sale of works by Liszt,Enescu and Franck promoted by the City Music Foundation and were snatched up in the interval in between sips of wine and excited conversation.
Julian Trevelyan was the last to perform having flown in from Paris where he performed in the morning.
Winner at only 16 of the Long-Thibaud-Crespin a few years ago he is a favourite performer at St Mary’s .
Still continuing his studies in Paris he is fast forging an important career.
An intelligent thinking musician he opened his concert with the three rarely heard Polonaises op 72 . Published after Chopin’s death they were very early works even earlier than the variations that Mihai had played before.
Full of the same charm and easy jeux perle of the teenager Chopin.Nevertheless one could see in Julian’s hands the same outline that was to be shaped into the great polonaises of his later years.

Julian Trevelyan
A great sense of clarity and scintillating virtuosity together with an absolute control of line and rhythmic propulsion were the hall marks of these extraordinary performances.
Three little Polonaises that I have only ever heard as encores in the days of the Chopin recitals of Stefan Askenase or Jan Smeterlin .
Indeed it was the same rigour and absolute sense of architectural shape that was the hallmark of a quite riveting performance of the B minor ( yes not B major as was advertised!) Sonata.
The second subject allowed to sing with such majesty .
No sentimentality but real masculine passion.
The Scherzo played with a most impressive jeux perle and the middle section integrated into the whole as is rarely the case.
The great Largo immediately erupting out of the final notes of the Scherzo gave such power and held the audiences attention as is rarely the case.

Julian Trevelyan
The virtuosity and excitement of the Finale was breathtaking as was the study op 10 n.1 offered as an encore to a public that could have happily listened all night. Today 18 more pianist to go …..cannot wait!

Yuanfan Yang and Ke Ma
Eight more pianists at the second day of the Chopin Festival at St Mary`s .
What a line up today with nearly seven hours of music making from these extraordinarily talented young musicians .
One can only select at random from the enormous amount of music heard today.
A beautiful Nocturne in F op 15 from Yuanfan Yang in which his superb sense of balance and beauty of sound made one realise why he has received already such recognition at such an early age.
Just back from a three week tour of China where he performed his own Piano Concerto.
Two bourrees and the Cantabile in B flat were refreshingly played and quite new to me.
Ke Ma presented the 24 Preludes op 28 .
Twentyfour problems as Fou Ts’ong would describe them but they were certainly no problem for Ke Ma who played with passionate involvement.
The Prelude n.16 in B flat minor was dispatched as very few could manage in a public performance.
Some very musicianly playing managing to keep the architectural line from the first to the tumultuous last prelude.

Ashley Fripp with Mikhail Shilyaev
Mikhail Shilyaev covering at the last minute for an indisposed Florian Mitrea but maintaining the same programme.
Some beautifully evocative sounds with the melodic line emerging almost Debussian from the mysterious bass murmurings in the Nocturne op 27 n.1.
Beautifully shaped melodic line in the Nocturne in F minor op 55 n.1 (a Cherkassy favourite)and a subtle sense of balance that allowed the melodic line to sing out completely unforced.
It lead to an extremely beautiful Andante Spianato with the orchestra at a minimum leading into the Grande Polonaise played with great style and command.

Mikhail Shilyaev with Iyad Sughayer
An early Polonaise in B flat minor was the opening work for Iyad Sughayer beautifully shaped and played with great style.
Following the Mazurkas op 33 with a specially requested performance by Dr Mather of the Allegro de concert op 46.
A rather awkward piece that was the initial workings for a never to be completed third piano concerto.
Iyad had learnt this very taxing and rather ungrateful piece especially for the occasion.
Hats off to Iyad Sughayer and for finding many beautiful things in this rather orchestral score.
I remember it being a speciality of Claudio Arrau and more recently of Louis Lortie.
Philip Fowke brought it to Gordon Green’s class and how they delighted in finding the beauty and style together in this almost unknown showpiece.
This second session ended with a superb performance by Ashley Fripp of the Fourth Scherzo The first time he had performed it in public and it showed off his great musicianship and wonderful sense of balance which allowed the sense of melodic line to create a unified whole.
This followed a magical account of the Berceuse and the wonderfully teasing three early waltzes op 70 .
The third Ballade was played with all his consummate artistry followed by the nocturnes op 48 n.2 and op 55 n.2 and made up the programme that brought this session to a close .

Kausikan Rajeshkumar with Tyler Hay
The final session n.3 of the day saw two past students of Tessa Nicholson, that renowned teacher from the Purcell School and the Royal Academy. Kausikan Rajeshkumar ( called in at the last minute to substitute for Dinara Klinton on tour in India)
Kausikan Rajeshkumar took us into his own magic world of half lights and amazingly fluid sounds which suited so perfectly the 2nd and 3rd Impromptus and the late B major Nocturne.

Kausikan Rajeshkumar
Interesting to note the repeat in the first movement of the B flat minor Sonata from the very beginning of the Sonata and not from the doppio movimento was the norm in my day.
A work especially prepared for this evening and for that even more remarkable.
This has opened the flood gates on social media about where Chopin intended the repeat.
Tyler Hay in discussion with Kausikan Rajeshkumar and others .
It appears that the double bar exists but not the repeat sign.
Some feel that as the Grave uses material that forms the bass element of the development section it makes sense to repeat it in the exposition repeat.Others beg to differ where Chopin’s intentions are not clear.
Superb clarity and musicianship in the Studies op 10 . Tyler Hay showing off his quite superb technical equipment but never forgetting the musical content in these quite extraordinary early studies.
The two slow melodic studies n.3 and 6 were superbly shaped .The first and last studies were dispatched with quite amazingly effortless virtuosity as were the second,fourth and the famous Black Key study n.5.

Tyler Hay
A beautifully shaped melancholic waltz in B minor op 69.n.2 was preceded by the Nocturne in G minor op 15 n.3 and a very heartfelt throbbing performance of the Polonaise in E flat minor op 26 n.2.
Luka Okras closed this third session with a quite superb account of the fourth Ballade, a masterpiece of the romantic repertoire.
It was hardly surprising to all those present that Luka has won already first prize in five International Piano Competitions.
The Ballade seemed to enter as if a window had been opened and then proceeded to unravel its opening melody culminating in the great romantic climax and coda played with great passion and superb technical assurance.
The famous little waltz in C sharp minor op 64 n.2 ,a favourite encore of Rubinstein, was played with all the colour and half lights of the master himself.

Luka Okros
Ending with the First Scherzo in B minor op 20 played with great rhythmic energy throwing himself into a coda of great excitement.It made a great contrast to the little polish melody in the central section that sang so nostalgically in Luka Okros‘s sensitive hands.
Today the last two sessions at 14h and 19h culminating in a performance by Ilya Kondratiev of the Polonaise Heroique op 53 that will bring this remarkable weekend to a fitting close.

CA with Ashley Fripp and Felicity Mather

Jean Rondeau at the Barbican

Jean Rondeau at the Barbican
Fantastic performance of the Goldberg Variations from Jean Rondeau at Milton Court as part of their Bach weekend.
One hour and fifteen minutes of course with all the repeats.
The same duration as Rosalyn Tureck`s remarkable performances at the RFH first half of the concert on the harpsichord and after a supper interval a second concert on Steinway piano in 1972.
She also played them for us in Rome in the `90`s when she made a come back to the concert stage in the Italy that she so adored.
Very subtle rubato and ornamentation held the packed Milton Court in complete silence. A great artist that can bring this music so vividly to life with such dedication and modesty.
At the service of JSB as Sir John Eliot Gardiner has shown us this weekend at the Barbican Centre .
Total silence for quite some minutes greeted this performance of the Goldberg after the final moving notes of the Aria with which this remarkable work finishes……….
A florid improvisation at the beginning to prepare our ears for the adventure we were about to embark on together.
Here he is last year at Hatchlands

An artist is born Pappano and Lisiecki in Rome

An artist is born Pappano and Lisiecki in Rome
Pappano/Lisiecki at.S.Ceclia
I remember being at the Royal Albert Hall in London to hear Pappano conducting “his” orchestra in the Schumann Piano Concerto with a very young unknown Canadian pianist a few years ago.
Jan Lisiecki and he had just recorded it with the S.Cecilia Orchestra.
A great talent indeed but at only eighteen he could not possibly have had the experience or weight to fill this vast hall with the sound that would have come from the hands of an Arrau or Rubinstein.
However helped and encouraged by that master musician Pappano they gave a fine if very miniature performance that came over much better on the CD than in this vast cavern full of 6000 eager faces.
I have since heard two recitals in the Wigmore Hall.
The first was magnificent and really showed off the artistry, technical command and authority of this young man blessed not only with model good looks but with the same glorious talent that his Canadian colleagues possess.
A remarkable school of piano playing born on the wings of that musical genius Glenn Gould .
I am thinking of Oscar Peterson,Mark Andre Hammelin,Janina Fialkowska,Angela Hewitt Louis Lortie to name but a few that have been enthusiastically received on the world stage
All have in common their simple pure intelligent musicianship allied to a total technical command of the instrument.
Whether in the Jazz or classical idiom.
The second recital at the Wigmore Hall was of a star marketed more for his youthful good looks than his serious piano playing.
It was such a delusion to hear some very professional playing but without the musical spark that had been so much the hallmark of his earlier performances.
Obviously this young man was looking for something which I am glad to say that after last nights performance he is now well on the verge of finding thanks to the infectious music making of Sir Antonio Pappano.
At the ripe old age of 23 here they were in Rome together again to play Chopin’s 2nd Piano Concerto.
The sublime beauty of the Moment Musical in D flat op 16. n.5 offered as an encore was one of the things I will treasure for a long time.
Here was the music that was allowed to unfold with the most subtle rubato and a projection of sound that was of such beauty that I could imagine the sounds wafting to the top of this enormous Symphony hall as they arrived to me in the nearest seat I could find to the piano.
That is the secret that only true masters discover on their long search for perfection.
The door has now been opened for this young man and will obviously lead to a voyage of discovery that will fill the hearts and souls of the public for a very long time to come.
The last movement of the Chopin Concerto so expertly abetted by Pappano and an orchestra that plays as one following his expressive hands and body movements.
This was real chamber music on a large scale where each of the solo instruments were allowed their own artistic freedom but within a whole that were following so attentively the soloist as he spun his magical web.
This dance like Finale:Allegro vivace thrown of with a real jeux perle that is so rare in these days where most soloists seem to relish in the resilience of the instrument and much less in that of our ears!
The teasing play between soloist and orchestra was a reminder of the days of a Magaloff or Rubinstein where the dance rhythm had an infectious charm of the true polish dance
Some beautiful understated things in the slow movement that sometimes however missed the weight that gives a greater sense of line to what is in fact one of the most expressive of songs from that true young poet Chopin who had just burst on the Parisian scene at around the same age as our soloist tonight.
The magical fioriture played with such subtle colouring but somehow not part of the whole song.
Surely in the hands of Rubinstein it was as if every note had a word that could breath and colour the magical melodic line as in the Schubert lieder.
The first movement with some wonderful internal colouring from the orchestra in the opening tutti and the authority of the opening notes from the piano left no doubt as to the pianists authority and the unity of purpose of Pappano and Lisiecki.
This was a young man’s vision of Chopin similar to those early recordings of Rubinstein with Barbirolli full or youthful passion and great verve.
In his later years,as no doubt with this young man, he took more time and every note sang with the same passion but with a meaning that allowed the music speak so eloquently.
This transformation all thanks to Sir Antonio Pappano who has taken yet another young musician under his wing (as Barenboim did with him and Rubinstein with Barenboim before that) to show both Jan Lisiecki and Beatrice Rana the path of a true interpreter.
J’ecoute,je sens je trasmet indeed .
And how!
I once said to Dame Fanny Waterman that I thought Pappano was the Barbirolli of today. Much better dear,she immediately replied!
Dame Fanny is rarely wrong!
A difficult lesson to learn with the impatience of youth but with such truly impassioned music making it involves them and all around them in this wish to communicate the essence of the music via a true virtuosity that does not bring itself in se to the listeners attention.
The concert had opened with an impassioned account of the G minor Symphony by Mozart.
A real voyage of discovery as the whispered opening was transformed in so many magical ways.
The Andante had never before tonight appeared as the “Pastoral” of Beethoven you could almost see nature unfolding.
Some great rhythmic energy in the opening development of the first movement and also in the Minuetto.
I felt the tension could have relaxed a bit more in the last movement with its gracious question and answer somewhat too overpowering.
A magnificent full blooded performance of Lutoslawski’s Concerto for Orchestra of which the pianist Sviatolslav Richter must have heard the first performance .
Reading his remarkably entertaining and perceptive diaries he notes……
“I heard his Concerto under Rowicki .It seems to me that he occupies a leading position among contemporary composers.I met him in Warsaw,of course,and at the Britten Festival in Aldeburgh.He struck me as a deeply serious person,a man of an uncommunicative and ascetic bent who conceals within him a delicate,fragile soul.”
and his final comment could very well be applied to today’s performance indeed:
“The musicians gave an incomparable performance of this extraordinarily captivating concerto.Bravissimi!”

POINT AND COUNTERPOINT Chronicle of events of the Keyboard Charitable Trust from January to June 2018


Chronicle of events from January to June 2018

by Christopher Axworthy,  Co-Artistic  Director


What an amazingly busy and successful six months it has been for the KCT with tours in Italy, Germany and the USA and individual concerts throughout England, Cyprus and the Isle of Man.

All summed up so beautifully in an article penned by our founding father John Leech:

The year started in Viterbo with our annual recital at the Tuscia University for Prof. Ricci with Mark Viner who went on to play in the Teatro Ghione in Rome, the Teatro Comunale in Vicenza for the series ‘Incontro sulla Tastiera’ for Mariantonietta Righetto Sgueglia and in Venice, Padua and Abano Terme for AGIMUS, Padua directed by Elia Modenese. He gave the same programme as he was to present in the KCT Prize Winner’s concert at Wigmore Hall on 2 March 2018.

‘Mark Viner shows us how to transform the piano into an orchestra Superlative technical skill even in “forgotten” composers.’ — Eva Purelli, Vicenza

Here is my report of Mark Viner’s concerts in Italy:

Whilst Mark was playing in the Palazzo Zacco-Armeni on a Sunday afternoon in January, another of our pianists André Gallo was playing in the morning in the historic Sala dei Giganti in a series for young Italian pianists organised by the renowned Amici della Musica with whom we also have an annual appointment.

Here are my thoughts on this performance:

After many years’ collaboration with Elia Modenese and AGIMUS, our presence was requested as part of the commission for the 15th Series of the International Prize for Soloists with Orchestra. The final was with the prestigious Orchestra di Padova e del Veneto, one of the finest chamber orchestras in Europe, in the Auditorium Pollini.

Here were my comments:

On 20 January Iyad Sughayer gave a well-received programme of Handel, Schubert/Tirimo and Liszt at the Newport Music Club in Shropshire.

On 8 February, IIya Kondratiev played in our ongoing series ‘Up Close — The Next Generation’  with the Principals of Manchester Camerata at the Stoller Hall in Manchester, repeated at The Muni in Colne on 9 February.  It was a concert for Valentine’s Day with the charming title of ‘Camerata in Love’.

Here were my comments:

On 20 February 2018, Vitaly Pisarenko gave the first recital in what we hope will become a prestigious new venue for the Trust:  the Parliament Chamber at the Temple in London. (This recital was initiated and encouraged by Sir Geoffrey Nice QC, a KCT Trustee and member of Temple Garden Chambers.)

Here is my report:

Mark Viner gave the annual KCT Prizewinner’s Wigmore Hall recital on 2 March 2018, having performed all over Italy for the KCT during January 2018. The concert was in memory of the renowned music critic, Bill Newman, a generous benefactor to the KCT.

‘From his stronghold as the Chairman of both the Alkan and Liszt Societies of the United Kingdom, he goes on to reinstate these and other masters or forgotten virtuosi in their actual historical interaction. He thus contributes steadily to the enhancement of our conscious overview of 19th century piano playing and its influences from and to other genres, such as Literature and Art.’ –  Kyriakos P.Loukakos

And from Seen and Heard:

And here were my thoughts:

On 23 March Ilya Kondratiev substituted at the last minute for an indisposed Mariam Batsashvili in Cyprus at the Pharos Shoe Factory of Garo Keheyan.

Yvonne Georgiadou, Artistic Director, wrote:

‘THANK YOU for introducing us to Ilya! Please express our utmost gratitude to the board of the KCT — you can even tell Mariam that we thank her because if it were not for her cancelation we might have never encountered such an amazing artist, or we might have been late in discovering him.

We have come across some really amazing piano talents in the last couple of years of our collaboration with the KCT, but I dare to say that Ilya is the most exceptional of all. I even dare to say…. I have been working as the Artistic Director of Pharos for over 12 years, and I have listened to countless pianists, some of them are considered amongst the most important names on the international scene. Never before did a pianist keep me locked on my seat, full of excitement from the beginning till the end. He is a fascinating artist. He enlivens the piano, he makes it sound like a full orchestra. It brings out all the colours, all the expressions and sentiments. There is so much character in his playing, and so many characters interacting with each other. He is not just technically exceptional but there is something about his general approach to the performance that cannot be captured on video or explained in words. Ilya should have been one of the biggest names in Europe right now. We will definitely invite him to Cyprus again, there is no question about it. Thank you, thank you again for introducing Ilya to us. I knew he would be a very talented young pianist, but nothing prepared me for such a revelation.’

On 21 April we were invited to recommend a KCT pianist for the Festival in Grosseto in Tuscany ‘Recondite Armonie’, now in its fifth year and run by Galina Chistiakova (a KCT artist) and her husband Diego Benocci.

The Artistic Directors selected André Gallo who gave a recital dedicated to the works of Debussy.

André and Galina (Gala), both colleagues from the famous music school in Imola will also perform together in a two piano programme of  Mozart, Schumann and Saint Saëns  on 4 October in our series ‘Up Close — The Next Generation’ with the Principals of Manchester Camerata.

Here is my report on Andre’s recital in Grosseto:

On 25 April Hin Yat Tsang played at the Bechstein Centrum in Frankfurt for long-standing KCT Friends, Sibylle and Patrick Rabut, who invite a KT pianist to perform in their Series twice every year.

These were their comments:

‘The concert is over and once more left an enthusiastic and overwhelmed public behind. Hin-Yat Tsang did a fantastic job with an exigent and challenging programme. Perhaps, rather too challenging … the twelve Scriabin Etudes were too much and it might have been better to start with three or four of the Etudes for warming up and then play the Beethoven Sonate No.28, Op. 101, which is a difficult one. The second half with Chopin and Rachmaninov was just marvellous as well as the Bach encore.’

Mariam Batsashvili gave two concerts in Germany — on 26 April at Steinway Hall in Cologne and on 27 April at the magnificent Orangery at Castle Rheda, organised by Trustee, Moritz von Bredow.

‘Mariam Batsashvili really is one of the best pianists the KT has ever supported. Her understanding of the music comes from an indescribable inner connection to each epoch … ‘ — Moritz von Bredow.

Here is his complete report: .

Mariam will return to Germany to Steinway Hall in Hamburg on 5 July — to be followed by a Hauskonzert for Moritz von Bredow on 6 July — for which she will be playing the Goldberg Variations.  Prior to this concert she will fly to Virginia to give a recital to celebrate Dietlinde Turban Maazel’s marriage to Tony Wood on 1 July.

[Vitaly Pisarenko with our founding fathers John and Noretta Leech – and Trustee Evgeny Kissin.]

On 4 May, Vitaly Pisarenko gave the first concert in our new collaboration with the Erin Arts Festival on the Isle of Man. He went on to play at Hatchlands on 10 May in our new series organised by Elena Vorotko as part of her Historic Piano programme for the KCT.  He played on an historic 1864 Steinway from Alec Cobbe’s amazing collection.

Here were my comments:

Vitaly went on to play at the Chopin Society in London on 20 May as part of their series of Leeds top prize winners:

On 4 May Mark Viner played at the Anthony Burgess Foundation in Manchester for our series ‘Up Close— The Next Generation’ with members of Manchester Camerata, a concert repeated at Adbaston Concert Society in Staffordshire. These collaborative concerts are very much the brainchild of Geoffrey Shindler, our Chairman.  Now in its second year, the Series is proving an ever-growing success.


On 11 May at Steinway Hall we were proud to honour the Trustees of the Max Grünebaum Foundation, Cottbus with a recital by Sasha Grynyuk.

In John Leech’s own words: ‘Your visit allows us to acknowledge a vital bond we have shared with the City of Cottbus for the past 27 years: the Keyboard Trust in London owes as much of its existence to the hard work and generosity of Marion and Ellen Frank, as the creation of the magnificent Theatre that you help to sustain did to their grandfather Max Grünebaum.’

On 22 May André Gallo played in New York for us in a new venue on West 57th street — Parc Vendôme — born out of a last minute cancellation by Steinway Hall. One of the most knowledgeable critics in New York sent us a one line email after the concert: ‘STUPENDO ….!’

André went on to play for Beth Glendinning, ex-Assistant of Ormandy, in Philadelphia:

‘Hi — I just put André on the train to Wilmington, and miss him already.  It’s amazing — the way I bond with your pianists, and can’t bear to see them leave.  His concert was fabulous, with raves from the audience.  His talent and personality overwhelmed us.  I think he finally caught up with his sleep deprivation and jet lag, but none of that was evident in his playing.  He has a glorious technique and sound.  We want him to come back (on what would be his second trip to America), because he didn’t see enough of our country on this brief tour.  He appeared to enjoy the reception we gave post-concert.  He is so interesting, aside from his musical life, that everyone he met here was deeply impressed. All the best to you, and many thanks for sending this remarkable young man our way. Beth.’

[Photo of Beth Glendinning with Mark Viner from 2016.)

And for our friends in Cokesbury Village in Delaware: ‘Last night, Cokesbury Village was treated to another overwhelming performance by yet another gifted pianist sponsored by your splendid organization.  André Gallo played a wide ranging program that allowed us to appreciate both his extreme sensitivity and phenomenal touch in quieter pieces and his astonishing facility and power in more dramatic works.  In addition to his technical virtuosity he exhibited a delightfully ingratiating style in introducing each selection.  The standing ovation he received was whole hearted and much deserved.’

This winter, there were three Steinway Hall ‘auditions’ in London:

  • 28th February Adrian Brendle


  • 21st March Filip Michalak

  • 25th April Tomoki Sakata

Three extraordinary performances over the past months by ‘emeriti’ KCT artists may also be of interest:

  • Mihai Ritivoiu on 16 May at Cadogan Hall with the English Chamber Orchestra directed by Michael Collins and promoted by the City Music Foundation.

Mihai Ritivoiu performed Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto No.2 and Michael Foyle performed Prokofiev’s Violin Concerto No.1 — with an encore for piano and violin by Prokofiev.

‘The superb English Chamber Orchestra conducted by Michael Collins offered a splendid account of Tchaikovsky’s 4th Symphony – and there’s a great new CD of works by Liszt, Enescu and Cesar Franck.’ – C. Axworthy.


 Scots pianist, Yuanfan —  will be giving a recital at St Michael and all Angels in Adbaston, Staffordshire for Adbaston Concert Society on Sunday, 3 June featuring works by Beethoven, Chopin, Haydn, Brahms — and one of his own compositions:  Waves (from Three Aquarelles).

  Vitaly Pisarenko will be giving a performance of Ravel’s Piano Concerto with the London Mozart Players, conducted by Hilary Davan Wetton on Sunday, 17 June:

 Mention should also be made of our last audition before the summer on Wednesday, 20 June at Steinway Hall at 19.00 by Nicola Losito.

Having graduated with the highest honours, Italian pianist Nicola Losito, 22, is currently studying with Leonid Margarius at the Imola International Piano Academy ‘Incontri col Maestro’ and with Massimo Gon at the Giuseppe Tartini Music Conservatory in Trieste.
Nicola has won first prize in prestigious national and international competitions including the National Piano Competition ‘Muzio Clementi’ (Florence), the 6th Isidor Bajic Piano Memorial Competition Novi Sad (Serbia), the International Piano Competition ‘Dinu Lipatti’ (Bucharest).He has recorded two CDs for labels Amadeus and Movimento Classical. He has also recorded for Rai Radio 1, Radio Classica, Radio Vaticana and Sky. Since 2017, he has been President and Artistic Director of the Italian Philharmonic Association.


Etude Op.10 nos.1, 2, 3, 4 and 12
Etude Op.25 Nos.7 and 12
Sonata Hob.XVI:50
Faschingsschwank aus Wien Op.26

  • On Friday, 22 June (17.30) Vitaly Pisarenko will be performing with members of Manchester Camerata as part of Manchester’s Góbéfest, the UK’s only Transylvanian and Szekler Hungarian Festival of Arts and Culture. Vitaly will be playing Beethoven’s Piano Trio Op.70 ‘The Ghost’ and pieces by Bartók and Kodály.

Full details on this link:

 Adrian Brendle will give a recital for the KCT and Kestrel Music on Wednesday, 27 June in St Giles-without-Cripplegate (Fore Street, London EC2Y 8DA) at 13.00 in a programme in memory of Dame Myra Hess and her National Gallery wartime performances:



Mention should also be made of the podcasts that Sasha Grynyuk (in collaboration with my co-Artistic Directors, Elena Vorotko and Leslie Howard), have created and which can now be viewed on the KCT website.

These feature interviews and short performances with Alexander Ullman, Evgeny Genchev, Martina Kazmierczak (harpsichord), Iyad Sughayer, Jean Rondeau and Mark Viner. 

Best wishes to everyone for a very happy Summer holiday – and please do join us for as many of these Summer Concerts as you can!

Christopher Axworthy, Co-Artistic Director and Trustee


May 2018