His Mather’s Voice

A Beethoven evening of great music making with Yume Fujise,Jamal Aliyev,Hugh Mather The Sonatas for Piano and violin op 12 n.3 and Piano and cello op.102 n.1 and the “Archduke” Trio op.97 And in fact as Beethoven wrote of the sonatas the piano part is of such importance,an equal partner and our master of ceremonies was very much an equal of the two superlative young musicians who were at his side tonight.
Not only did Dott.Mather integrate totally with his partners- never overpowering but also having voice of his own when given front stage by Beethoven. Always a beautiful non percussive sound from this not easy piano that we have heard under the hands of so many superlative but not alway sensitive players. A real singing sound totally integrated and at the service of the whole. In fact in Hugh’s hands it all sounded so natural and inevitable and it was this joy of making music together that was so enjoyable for us eavesdropping tonight. Yume Fujise a very fine violinist in the early E flat sonata .Playing with all the youthful energy that Beethoven asks for .Perfect intonation and very full sound when needed but also a very attentive musician glad to share the stage with our ever generous host.
The moment that Jamal opened the penultimate of Beethoven’s cello sonatas one knew that we were in the presence of a master . As Maude Tortelier once asked me if I knew what ” peso” or “weight” signified in cello playing .Yes I certainly do and Jamal had exactly that authority that immediately caught the audience’s attention.The” Beethoven sound” one might say .
The “Archduke” trio that followed after a short interval showed us all the things that Jamal had described to me about his pleasure of making music with Hugh Mather. Gone are the usual tensions of playing high profile concerts and one is just absorbed in making music amongst friends.
Friends of course they are but also all three highly professional musicians . The Doctor playing all three works hardly even glancing at the score. For these master works are indelibly engraved into the heart and soul of this retired Physician who now has time to selflessly indulge in his lifelong passion for music never forgetting to help others as indeed decrees his doctors oath.

Paradise Lost

Bewitched,Bothered and Bewildered
Florian Mitrea in recital at St Mary’s Perivale Another remarkable pianist in Hugh Pethers stimulating series featuring some of the most talented young musicians on the musical scene in London .
On tuesday it was the turn of a young Rumanian pianist who quite frankly had me pondering as to what I could say that could be constructive and at the same time respectful of his considerable talent. ” Bewitched,bothered and bewildered” as the song goes comes to mind and a glimpse of a “Paradise Lost”
Mozart Fantasy in D minor and Rondo in D major opened his programme intelligently introduced by this very ” simpatico” young man. It was clear from the start that we were in for a bumpy ride as the first notes of the fantasy were almost non existent and I could not understand why he repeated the left hand octave in the opening arpeggiandi .And so it continued with a barely audible piano- pianissimo that was not possible to control especially on this difficult Yamaha .The cadenza like flourishes that interrupt this very well known piece were played with a brilliance and transcendental technique that showed obvious very fine early training,what in German is called fingerfertigkeit .It was just that it bore no relation to the whole. Such were the exaggerations from a barely audible pianissimo to an explosive cadenza it was as though there was no anchor but just a series of episodes, some even extremely beautiful ,and others totally out of context.
Some really beautiful ideas in the D major Rondo the music really seemed at times to speak, but as soon as he played piano or with emotion he lost control and the whole boat started to capsize. It was exactly the same in Beethoven’s “Waldstein” Sonata with some magnificent things in the more rhythmic,technically difficult sections but mixed with some totally uncontrolled ,emotionally unstable cantabile passages. I can understand the great Russian school personified by Radu Lupu or Sviatoslav Richter of trying to get away from the percussive side of the piano and arrive at an extreme legato( as in fact Kempff did in the latter part of his illustrious career) .This combined also with a fantastic digital control . There was a famous Rumanian teacher,the teacher of Lipatti and Lupu in fact, whose whole principal was to make the piano sing and to convince us that this black box of strings and hammers could sing as beautifully as a nightingale . But all these pianists had also in their mind and hearts the long sense of line and of the boat that must arrive at its destination in tact.
The little A minor Schubert sonata fared much better.Infact it was this very Sonata in the first round of the Leeds Competition that put Radu Lupu on the map as the extraordinary artist that we know today. There were in Florians performance some really beautiful things but also some very out of context sections in the fast more technically challenging section .The challenge magnificently mastered it was just it bore no context to the magical world that Schubert and Florian were obviously dreaming of .
In fact a Paradise Lost indeed.
Let there be no doubt this is a remarkably professional and talented young musician and there could be so many things to enjoy in his performances but in my opinion I think he should have a good listen to himself and decide if what he is producing is what is really in his intelligent head and big heart . Another very stimulating recital from that ever enthusiastic and ever ready to help Hugh Mather and tonight this remarkable doctor will join forces with one of the finest cellists and violinists (Jamal Aliyev and Yume Fujise) for an evening of real music making with Beethoven Archduke Trio and the Violin Sonata op 12 n.3 and the Cello Sonata op 102 n.1.
Hats off indeed Dott or should I say Maestro Hugh Mather

The Loves of Picasso…Portraits at the National Portrait Gallery

National Portrait Gallery Picasso
What a man ………if only Trump could paint!
As Gyorgy Sandor said to me at the time of the Klinton debacle :
”So he likes women,whats the problem!”
Well that is one way of defusing a very distasteful episode ……….
Picasso certainly liked women and here they are …… his inspiration ……..he ate them alive ,consumed them and two of them committed suicide.One had the cpourage to leave him and is still alive in New York- Francoise Gilot
As in Terry d’Alfonso’s film “ Loves of Picasso” shown in many galleries throughout the world Berlin/New York/London.

Julian Trevelyan at St James’s

Julian Trevelyan at St James’s
Extraordinary recital by the seventeen year old Julian Trevelyan at St James`s Piccadilly today. Presented by Canan Maxton from Talent Unlimited that together with David McCleery ,concerts manager of St James’s and Heather J.Turnham of Bedford Concerts gave us the possibility to hear this still very young pianist.
The unknown young man who took the Marguerite Long Competition in Paris by storm last year.
And it was infact in “Warum” by Schumann ,played as an encore that showed to the full his remarkable artistry. A wonderful sense of balance that allowed this difficult Fazioli to sing as it very rarely does in other hands. Allied already to a great musical personality that was immediately obvious from the arpeggiated chords in the opening statement of Busoni’s great transcription of the Bach Chaconne.
Originally written for violin solo,his mentor Elizabeth Altman told me afterwards that he insisted in breaking the chords as would be done on the violin.Even Busoni did not do that on his famous piano roll performance but it just showed the sort of commitment from this young man.
His superb sense of balance meant that in the climaxes he was able to take us by storm with his generous but never percussive full orchestral sound. Of course in the final his youthful passion got the better of him and he lost some of his remarkable self control of tempo and pedal in his zeal.Surely the great final bass notes are organ stops and not percussive pillars ,as Agosti a pupil of Busoni was always keen to point out ,even though very excitingly played.Some very interesting re arrangements of the hands too showed a man born to play the piano.
Faure`s rarely heard but charming Valse Caprice op.30 was given a scintillating performance showing a real understanding of the style and subtle salon colours,but always within the bounds of the aristocratic good taste of the French.
Let me say straight away that Scarbo that completed his performance of Gaspard de la Nuit was one of the most remarkable that I have heard. Here the great final climax was given with such passionate restraint and real virtuosity .
But it was the central section that was remarkable seeming to enter like mist and the subtle slow awakening that led so magnificently to that final climax. Some very original colouring too in some of the most hair raisingly difficult escapades of this little demon.
Le Gibet was given with.such a consistent rhythmic impulse allied to the most subtle colouring around the insistent tolling bell.
Ondine that opens this extraordinary almost revolutionary work of Ravel was played with the restraint and undemonstrative virtuosity of a real master. Beautiful pedal effect of that final simple reappearance of Ondine,a not very nice accent on the penultimate note but even that was resolved on the last note by this young artist who actually listens to every note with technical and musical mastery that mark him out and will indeed be a name to watch in the near future as he makes his inevitable ascent .
Finally letting his hair down with a scintillating jazz etude by Kapustin,rather too long ,but when you are young and letting your hair down one can only stand and cheer

My Waterloo…..Southbank Sinfonia and Nicholas Young at the 1901 Arts Club

My Waterloo….Southbank Sinfonia and Nicholas Young at 1901 Arts Club
Very interesting evening on the Southbank yesterday .In fact all revolving around Waterloo …..so this was my Waterloo……….To hear the Southbank Sinfonia,whom I had last heard in Anghiari( Arezzo) ,Italy now in the Church of St John’s ,Waterloo with a free Rush hour concert that comprised not only the Dances of Galanta by Kodaly but also a fabulously passionately concise performance of Sibelius Second Symphony.Some very fine playing but a really exceptional conductor in Natalia Luis-Bassa ,who could steer them through these fragmentary waters to the inevitable overwhelming final statement .
A conductor from the famous El Sistema in Venezuela personified in Gustavo Dudamel who was discovered and brought to Europe by Claudio Abbado .Now established in the UK we will be hearing a lot more of her as we will from the fabulous players in this magnificent apprentices orchestra. Not only Kodaly and Sibelius but also a glass of wine.Hats off indeed.
But next door in Exton Street is the charming Headmaster house that is the 1901 Arts Club that offers a beautiful but intimate space for young musicians in concert and rehearsal. The Hattori Foundation use it for their concerts to promote young musicians and last night it was the turn of the Australian pianist Nicholas Young. What an interesting programme all revolving around London in the 1920’s ……A chance to hear again the two sonatas by Roy Agnew, a little known Australian composer who died in 1944 ,that had been heard the evening before for the Keyboard Charitable Trust at Steinways .
A very interesting Second Sonata by Arnold Bax that Nicholas in his learned introduction likened to the Liszt Sonata in shape and form.Indeed it had the same quiet beginning and ending and much virtuoso piano writing inbetween . I had no idea that Busoni also spent so much time in London.But as Nicholas again explained that although based in Berlin Busoni loved London and would dress in different ways and go out on the town to meet all spheres of people ………His Berceuse , Toccata and Ten variations on a Prelude by Chopin ( n.20 in Cminor like Rachmaninov) were given such fine performances that I have not heard the like since Serkin played them ( Berceuse and toccata) in London together with op111 ,Schumann Carnaval and Reger Variations – those were the days!
A very musicianly performance of the famous Chaconne finished off this fascinating recital .(The day before Nicholas had indeed included op.111 in his Steinway

Mihai Ritivoiu at St Mary’s Perivale

Mihai Ritivoiu at St Mary’s Perivale
Mihai Ritivoiu at St Mary`s Perivale Schumann Romances op 28 Toccata op7 Liszt Sonata in B minor Once more a magnificent recital for Hugh Mathers remarkable Tuesday series dedicated to the very finest pianists from the up and coming younger generation..
A remarkable array of talent chosen with the care and expertise of a real musician who passionately cares and wants to help these young artists by offering concerts in his very well attended series .. Most from the series have won major prizes at our music colleges andMihai Ritivoiu, a student of the highly esteemed Joan Havill at the Guildhall was in fact winner of the Gold Medal of the Beethoven Society of Europe. I was present when he played a very fine ” Appassionata”to Piers Lane and Noretta Conci who as a jury had no hesitation in awarding him their highest honour.
Today he was presenting two works by Schumann and one of the most remarkable works in the Romantic repertoire the Sonata in B minor by Liszt. Starting with the three Romances op 28 by Schumann.The second of which is very often played as an encore but rarely do we see all three in a concert programme.Very good to hear them all at the opening of a programme especially when played with the intelligence that was revealed here. All the romantic ardour and colours but allied to a rigour and attention to the bass that gave great profundity and sense of direction especially noticeable in the first of the Romances. The famous second Romance in F sharp was played with an aristocratic sense of line that never was allowed to dissolve into sentimentality.The final Romance,the longest of them all,based on Schumann’s dotted rhythm was here played with a lightness and shape that made an ideal conclusion to this group.
I remember Cherkassky used to play the even more rarely heard op111 of Schumann as a prelude to the Liszt Sonata and Mihai chose to combine the Romances with the famous , dare I say infamous, Toccata in C op 7 . When its is played by a real musician ,with the technical equipment to cope with its treacherous demands,one is made to realise what a masterpiece it is . Here Mihai with the perfect legato that Schumann asks for in place and again the bass made prominent below the fast repeated right hand octaves leading to a most romantic outpouring only to dissolve into nothing as it had begun . In that sense it has much in common with the Liszt Sonata that was to follow. The Liszt Sonata was given a musician’s performance. And that is not to say that there were not many thrilling moments in which Mihai rose to the occasion.But there was also a sense of architecture and shape together with a sense of wonder and beauty in the slower passages with an aristocratic rubato that never lost sight of the overall shape and picture.
Maybe it was missing something of the demonic character and sheer animal excitement but this will come with living with it for some time , It is already quite remarkable for a young hot blooded pianist to be able to control his emotions and to play this work with the respect and intelligence that it deserves .