Konstantinos Destounis in the Elgar Room at the Royal Albert Hall
A student of Dmitri Alexeev and Aquiles delle Vigne both regular performers for many years in my theatre in Rome . So it was a great pleasure to hear this young man again after his prize winning performances at the Liszt Society annual competition last november. Konstantinos is also studying with Ian Jones at the R.C.M for a doctorate in contemporary Greek composers.
So it was not surprising that three such composers were in his programme today(one of whom,Dimitrios Skyllas, was present in the hall today…..see foto)sandwiched between major works of Chopin and Liszt.
All this on Elton Johns “Big Red Piano” provided by Markson Pianos. A not easy Yamaha to tame especially under the eagle eye of Ella Fitzgerald,The Beatles and Frank Sinatra.
Elgar nowhere to be seen today except in name.
Chopin and Liszt were not present either but were brought to life by the dextrous fingers and big romantic heart of Konstantinos in his very generous early morning sold out coffee concert.
Two of Chopin’s greatest works the Scherzo n.2 in B flat minor and the Barcarolle op 60 started the concert.
Chopin once likened the freedom or rubato in his works to a tree with the roots firmly placed in the earth allowing the branches to flow in the wind. And it was indeed in Konstantinos’s very fine romantic performances that one felt this need of an anchor for his heartfelt fervour.
A more attentive bass ,especially in the slower parts would have infact allowed more freedom without loosing the impetus so splendidly realised by his remarkable virtuosity.
It was a few years ago that another great friend of the Ghione Theatre in Rome,Janina Fialkowska, was giving a memorial concert dedicated to my wife,Ileana Ghione,when she whispered in my ear after a performance of the Barcarolle ,that” this was Ileana”.
Janina the true heir to the Rubinstein Chopin legacy meant that the sheer beauty,refinement and strength found in this masterpiece of the Romantic repertoire were all facets of Ileana’s personality too.
A legacy that means that in simplicity there can be passion,beauty and strength but only if the roots are firmly planted in the ground.
A difficult lesson for a romantic young man full of life and energy to understand ,but it will come with the maturity of a real artist.
The three Greek composers that he introduced in his very attractive native accent were of course played to the manner born,as one would expect.
The Prelude and Toccata by Theodore Antoniou receiving its UK premiere was played with all the resources of the piano exposed to the full .From the quiet murmur to the most thunderous cry. And like the Jettatura by John Psathas the Toccata showed his enormous dexterity and was very impressive indeed.
The very suggestive sounds in the Nine Miniatures for the Universe by Dmitrios Skyllas were hampered by a not very resonant piano but Konstantinos produced miracles in his total identification with music from his native land.
For Konstaninos is a real artist as was shown by his virtuoso performance of Liszt’s Mephisto Waltz that brought this very fine recital to a rousing conclusion.
Maybe his passionate participation could have had more dynamic control but this was a young man’s Liszt and totally convinced his audience ,much as the great man himself might have done ……no swooning ladies but a great ovation from a more discreet Sunday morning audience.
The piano does not have the depth of sound to allow many colours or refinement to be obtained but I remember my old mentor ,Vlado Perlemuter,telling me that the finest concert he ever gave was on an old ” casserole” in a school in South London……..”where there is a will there is always a way” as maturity will no doubt inform this very fine young musician.