The magic world of Andras Schiff

A memorable afternoon at the RCM in the company of Sir Andras Schiff…… just poured out of him as he shared his secrets with the remarkable young pianists Martin James Bartlett (Schubert op 90 n.2 e 3),Alexander Ullman (Haydn Variations in F)and Hin-Yat Tsang (Schumann Humoresque op 20) Useless to try and put into words what we have all experienced this afternoon .Maybe one word ” inspiring” would suffice and all thanks to the remarkable team at the RCM headed by Vanessa Latarche. Reading Hin Yats remarks as to Andras Schiffs magic world of imaginary marches not the Red Army ,Goblins and singing part of Dichterliebe to open up a whole magical fantasy world. Reminds me of Nadia Boulanger’s famous saying from Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night “Words without thought no more to heaven go”. And while these very fine musicians are perfecting their craft at the piano it is good to be reminded that it is a means to an end which must always be “music” ….to make it speak. I well remember Nadia Boulanger when I was a student at the RAM reminding us always of this via that line from Shakespeare and telling us that you could write a book about the passion and feeling in Mr Stavinskys music. As I am reminded today of a fourteen year old hungarian boy appearing in Dartington to take part in masterclasses ,as a student this time,by another remarkable musician Andre Tchaikovsky who had been asked especially to look out for this exceptionally talented young boy. Andre always had an impish sense of humour and so when Katie Kennedy presented the early Brahms E flat minor scherzo op 4 ,unknown to Andre but not to Andras who flaunted his knowledge in hearing distance. So Andre just said you teach it to her leaving this rather timid young boy to play the part of Master much to his embarrassment. But when Andras Schiff played Chopin third ballade there was no doubt that here was already a remarkable musician. Although he did not win the Leeds Competition in the year that neither did Mitsuko Uchida it says reams for turning music into an almost olympic sport – his performance, at the competition , of Papillons is history. There can be no doubt in anyones mind today that we are indeed privileged to be in the company of one of the most complete musicians on the world stage today.

Miracles at the Bulgarian Institute

Evgeny Genchev and Martin Ivanov at the Bulgarian Cultural Institute on London this evening.
Almost two hours of piano playing in a real tour de force where miracles were performed by these two fine artists on a very difficult piano.
Evgeny`s op 110 almost convinced us that this was a magnificent instrument such was his control of sound and colour.Gaspard de la nuit and in particular Ondine was projected in a remarkable way.
Martin`s bold control and majestic articulation lent all the nobility needed for Mussorgsky Pictures. Remarkable feats of virtuosity in Grunfelds Die Fledermaus impossibly difficult Strauss transcription was matched by the sheer beauty of sound in Evgeny `s encore by Tschaikowsky. A real marathon from two of Bulgarias finest young musicians

Martin Ivanov at St James’s

The young Bulgarian pianist Martin Ivanov in recital at St.James`s Sussex Gardens today. Beautiful church with a good Boston piano .A new venue that is starting to make a name for itself for the quality of its concerts. This week already two fine young Bulgarian pianists Evgeny Genchev and Martin Ivanov and on the 23 April the distinguished veteran pianist Paul Badura Skoda at the age of 88 will give a recital including Beethoven`s last sonata Some very refined playing from Ivanov especially appreciated was his subtle poetry allied to sophisticated jeux perle so rarely found these days and reminiscent of the so called Golden Age of piano playing as of Magaloff,Bolet or indeed Rosenthal and Lhevine. Starting the recital with Liszt`s transcription of the Gounod Faust Waltz once again full of subtle poetry but also never lacking in the transcendental virtuosity when required. Of course the refined subtle poetry of some waltzes and nocturnes of Chopin were ideally suited to this young pianists notable artistry. The nocturne in D flat was allowed to sing in a simple natural way as only maturity can allow. In fact this young pianist seems born to play the piano, as was obvious from the moment he sat down at the keyboard . Never a moment of doubt from fingers that seemed to belong to the keys they were caressing with such finesse. The A flat Polonaise revealed all the heroism necessary to bring this remarkable recital to a rousing conclusion