25th Anniversary of the Keyboard Charitable Trust. Alexander Ullman at the Wigmore

Great celebrations at the Wigmore Hall for the 25th anniversary of the Keyboard Charitable Trust. What better way to celebrate than with the composer who understood the piano better than any other….Frederik Chopin. A programme of some of his greatest works performed by the remarkable British pianist Alexander Ullman. Trained from an early age at the Purcell School followed by some intense training in Philadelphia with Leon Fleischer.Only still barely in his 24th year with first prize at the Liszt Bartok Competition under his belt he is now perfecting his studies under the remarkable eye of Dmitri Alexeev and Ian Jones at the RCM. A prime example of the supreme talent that the KCT is able to spot and help bring to the fore. There are very few young musicians that could hold a packed out Wigmore Hall in their hands for almost two hours and then regale them with one of the most subtle and poetic performances of the nocturne op 55n.2 that I can recall. And this after some masterly performances of some of Chopins greatest works. Rarely has Chopins funeral march in the B flat minor sonata,sounded so grandiloquent and the final wind over the grave so inevitable. Enviable his grip of structure in the first movement with the repeat so inevitably right. The fourth ballade too tightly held together leading to the most passionate outpouring in the coda that is all too often thrown off like a trascendental exercise. Never for a moment letting us forget that this was a young passionate mans view of Chopin , also never letting us forget the poetic content but also allowing us to share in his sheer relish in performing these so perfectly written pieces. The second Scherzo with dazzling virtuosity every much a young virtuosos performance. I remember back in 1976 Rubinsteins last performance in public with this very scherzo that he had to forsake as his failing eyesight would not allow him to take those treacherous leaps that Maestro Ullman ,70 years his junior took with such aplomb tonight in the very same hall. Deeply felt mazukas ,the very heart of Chopin,with such subtle colouring and understatement. Very unsentimental performance of the nocturne op 27 n.1 reminded us that the nocturnes are true tone poems as Rubinstein made so clearly his own. Opening with the great Polonaise Fantasy ,one of Chopin’s hardest works to play in one long line and truly a gem amongst the polonaises and very much canons covered in flowers Standing ovation,of course,for this tour de force . Three encores and a bottle of champagne greeted by a kiss from the beautiful young lady that presented it to him from the KCT. Great celebrations with speeches and a toast from our remarkable hostess,Gabriella Bassatne, to the two founders of the Keyboard Trust~ John and Noretta Leech and a touching speech from John declaring the act of love for his wife ,Noretta, in founding the trust for her sixtieth birthday……incredibly 25 years ago.

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