Jean Rondeau at St Peter`s Eaton Square for Baroque at the Edge Festival
I would not have thought it possible to come away these days from a harpsichord recital exhilarated,uplifted and excited as one might from a recital by a great virtuoso pianist.
I was brought up on Landowska and later George Malcom which became unfashionable with the advent of original instruments .
Tortelier used to say that he would play Bach in a so called authentic baroque way when they discovered an authentic baroque recording studio.
At last listening on video recordings to a young french harpsichordist looking like a pop star but playing in such an exciting virtuoso manner.
Winner of the First Prize at the International Harpsichord Competition in Bruges at only 21 at last at only 26 he is beginning to make a name for himself.
Here at last is a master of his instrument that can play with the passionate intelligence that the masterpieces of Rameau Royer,Couperin and Bach need to bring them alive.
Someone from the younger generation who is not reverently afraid of this rather delicate looking instrument.
Reading in the programme that the 59 year old Rameau was threatened with ‘twenty kicks in the stomach’ by his rival Royer’s companion and that Les sauvages was inspired by the exotic dancing of two American Indians in the Theatre Italien in Paris.
It could almost be a headline from todays newspapers.
And reading in the Telegraph review today of Peter Ackroyd’s book that speaks of officials inspecting in 1538 the dormitories and cloisters of monasteries and found ‘gelded youths,debaucheries,catamites,boy things,pederasts,sodomites ,Gannymedes’.
So why should the music of that period not portray the passions and human frailty as only music can?
This respectfully whispered baroque music as it is so often portrayed does not reveal the passions that lie behind the notes of these remarkable works of genius.
All too rarely an artist such as Jean Rondeau a real virtuoso, appears on the scene to reveal in all its glory the music of this so called baroque period.
Unbelievable that such a small delicate looking instrument could contain such colour,excitement and passion.
The incredible excitement generated in the Gavotte avec les doubles de la Gavotte by Rameau or the wonderful characterisation of the famous La poule.
Where such extraordinary distortions of rhythm ( for you cannot call it rubato) were so telling .
The frantic rhythm of Les Sauvages too but also the incredible sounds in the ultra modern L’enharmonique.
The build up in the Marche de Scythes by Royer that closed this short programme was quite overwhelming .
A use of ornaments that was totally unobtrusive but allowed a legato line and could produce a totally mesmerising architectural shape combined with an extraordinarily subtle palate of colour.
Famous piece by Couperin as an encore concluded this extraordinarily exhilarating recital.
He can be heard again invited by the Keyboard Charitable Trust in the Historic Instrument Series guided by its co artistic director Elena Vorotko :Handel House (sometimes referred to as Jimmy Hendrix House) in Mayfair on 13th June at 18.30 and at Hatchlands Park- The Cobbe Collection- in Guildford at 12 noon on the 14th.
In programme the Goldberg Variations by J.S.Bach .
I have also just been told by our friends at the Amici della Musica di Padua who have a close collaboration with the Keyboard Trust that Jean Rondeau will play in their prestigious series next season on 13th March 2018.
A rising star indeed !
VITALY PISARENKO AT ST BARNABAS FOR THE REMARKABLE DOTT.MATHER
It was indeed a remarkable recital.
A very generous event organised by Hugh Mather to offer a try out recital for a very important concert in Zurich tomorrow.
Clare Packenham ,the distinguished authoress came over especially to support a pianist who is very special indeed.
Wonderful sounding Boesendorfer concert grand .
An old instrument but from the days when the great Germanic pianos had a very special sound.
So not easy to play but it is the great pianist who can dominate and get the piano to give up its innermost secrets.
Was it not Richter who enjoyed the challenge of discovering and seducing even the most difficult instruments.
Vlado Perlemuter said the best concert he ever gave was on a “casserole” in a school in the English countryside.
Magnificent Liszt playing indeed. Intelligent,subtly poetic of such transcendental virtuosity one was not even aware of the mastery we were enjoying.
Liszt Ballades not only n.2 but the rarely heard n.1 .
All one could exclaim is why are these works so rarely heard in recital.
The answer is obvious .
It requires the enormous musical and technical understanding that is so very rare.
Liszt tenth Hungarian Rhapsody where the glissandi were thrown off with an old world ease and charm of a much missed Cherkassky.
Of course the piano was made to resound with the magic of Schubert`s Impromptus. Played with such a subtle rubato almost verging on the romantic but held tightly in control with a sense of the delicate magic that these songs without words can express in the hands of a true poet.
The German dances that opened this short but totally satisfying try out were played with the same idiomatic delicacy and charm of the mazurkas of Chopin.
Lucky Zurich they have no idea what treat is in store.
From Perivale to Zurich in 24 hours all thanks to our ever generous Dr Mather.
Ever vigilant of the needs of great talent.
Of course Vitaly Pisarenko played his part too!
Maria Tarasewicz and Jamal Aliyev at St James’s …….Faziolissimo!
Cellissimo indeed but one should also add to title of this series at St James`s Piccadilly for the recital by Jamal Aliyev and Maria Tarasewicz.
Pianissimo would not quite be the equivalent maybe Faziolissimo would make my meaning clearer.
We know that Jamal is one of the finest cellists of his generation I have said it even recently.
How he has matured in the past few years from a very talented student at the RCM to the great artist that the world is beginning to realise.
He has what the Tortelier`s called “peso”. Strong subtle fingers that cling to the strings like limpets(Gilels would be the equivalent on the piano) but he has an even stronger heart and mind that take you on a memorable trip whatever he plays
Whether the charming Minstrel`s Song op.71 by Glazunov that opened todays recital or the monumental Shostakovich Sonata op 40 ,not to forget the total abandonment in Chopin`s youthfully brilliant Polonaise op.3.
Hats off to Jamal but it is not he that has made me want to talk about this recital today but the subtle magical playing of Maria Tarasewicz.
Lucky Jamal that has found the perfect partner a true magician that can turn a fine but very difficult loud Fazioli piano into a magic box totally at her command.
Playing with the lid fully open,never did she overwhelm Jamal as I have heard others so often do in this very church.
An amazingly small but very flexible hand like Alicia de Larrocha it can do exactly as her heart and mind lead her.
The beauty of the sound that is very rarely heard on this piano was proof that she was listening not only to Jamal but even more rarely to herself.
The wondrous sounds that Jamal finds on his Gabrielli cello of 1752 perfectly matched and sometimes even bettered on this Fazioli of 2010.
A real duel where they are united in their ultimate goal which is recreating the music before them with all the drama ,maturity and beauty that their youthful mastery allow them.
We the public can just flock to their concerts in the knowledge of a fulfilling musical experience as we did for that other golden couple Barenboim~Du Pre so cruelly taken from us all those years ago.
Deniz Arman Gelenbe and friends All About Mozart final concert in the Mozart Focus Series at St John`s Smith Square this afternoon
Lovely to see Deniz Arman Gelenbe rushing off after her magnificent performances of Mozart to catch up on the latest of the French Elections.
Especially as St John’s Smith Square in the shadow of Big Ben had been subject to a bomb from the suffragettes attempting to have a vote for women long before Mr Hitler almost flattened this noble edifice during the second world war.
Deniz Gelenbe is a lady who knows where she is going as was obvious from the very stylish performances that she gave with her colleagues from Trinity Laban where she was for many years the very distinquished head of Piano.
Now handing over that post to a younger colleague,Peter Tuite, she is free to dedicate herself more to public performances .
Having studied herself with some very distinguished musicians at Julliard School in New York: Adele Marcos,Rudolf Ganz ,Cecile Gerhart and our never forgotten friend Gyorgy Sandor who had played and given masterclasses in my theatre in Rome for many years In fact Deniz was very touched to see the foto that sits on my piano posted here of Gyorgy with my wife after one of his numerous concerts for us in Rome.
A programme based on three piano and violin sonatas with Michael Bochmann who I well remember from my student days at The Royal Academy .
A disciple of that very gentle and much admired violinist Frederick Grinke who together with David Martin were the very finest violin teachers at that time.
Embodying all the principles of his mentors that have included Sandor Vegh,Henryk Szering and playing Bach Double Concerto on tour in the USA with Yehudi Menuhin.
In the three violin violin sonatas that were generously offered today there was a very real musical dialogue between two musicians totally dedicated to the genial music that they had before them.
Playing with the lid of the piano fully open ,the violin using the sound board of the piano to help amalgamate the sound .
Never overpowering the violin but producing the most beautiful sounds that allowed the two instruments to blend into one. Thus making nonsense of the traditional way in that period of publishing the Sonatas as ” Pour clavecin ou forte piano avec accompagnement d’un violon”.
A tradition carried on well into the times of Brahms by the way.
The early Sonata in G K.301 played with such charm and colour .
The extreme delicacy of the piano found the perfect partner with the violin and there was a real dialogue between them that was fascinating to follow.
The two later Sonatas in B flat K.454 and in F K.376 very stylishly played even if I felt the dramatic element was rather played down in an attempt to give a sheen and wonderful sense of line to these much more complex works.
It was a small price to pay for such wondrous sounds that allowed us to be completely seduced by these genial rather lesser known works of Mozart.
The sense of colour allied to a complete technical command and perfect realisation of the intricate ornamentation of Deniz Gelenbe reminded me of that other much missed lady of the keyboard Alicia De Larrocha.
No histrionics but total concentration on the sounds that they were producing together.
In fact it was refreshing to overhear a conversation in which two members of the public were reminiscing and remarking what a great similarity there was.
They could not remember the name of the other pianist but for me it was already on the tip of my tongue.
Remarkable sense of colour and a very sensitive dynamic range from Michael Bochmann allowed a very attentive audience to wallow in this feast of real music making.
In the final work on the programme, and in this series, was the great Piano Quartet n.2 in E flat K.493.
Joined by their disitnguished colleagues Rivka Golani,viola and Vanessa Lucas-Smith ,violoncello suddenly we seemed to be plunged into another world.
Such was the dramatic impact of the performance and real bodily partecipation of all concerned the very thing that I felt had been missing in the solo sonatas previously.
Michael Bochmann now in a passionate discourse with the dynamic Rivka Golani,who seemed almost to have a cello under her chin such was the size of her beautiful viola.
All totally involved in a performance both of drama and sublime melodic invention .
The piano totally integrated in the robust but always stylish sounds being produced.
Vanessa Lucas-Smith always in total contact discreetly sustaining them when necessary and coming into her own on the few occasions that Mozart offers .
The real participation from the viola of Rivka Golani seemed to inject just the right energy and rhythmic impulse that this masterpiece demands.
Flowers for the originator of this series from Oxford picked in the house where Vlado Perlemuter used to spend his summers .
It is good to note that this great pianist would never play Mozart in public although having recorded all the Piano Sonatas back in the 60’s.
Too difficult for adults and too easy children as Perlemuters mentor Schnabel use to remark.
In fact Perlemuter’s Peonies were a small offering for such courage and such a feast of music offered today
As Bruno Walter is quoted in the programme :”There is an angelic sphere that reveals itself in the beauty and perfection of Mozart’s music,in its exalted range of serenity and purity”.
A fitting description of what we were treated to today.
Leslie Howard at St Peter`s Eaton Square London
It has been over forty years since the first time I heard Leslie Howard in the Palace of Count Chigi in Siena during the summer masterclasses of Guido Agosti.
Classes where generations of talented young musicians would flock to a place where musical integrity and a profound respect for the composers wishes was paramount.
The classes of Guido Agosti and Franco Ferrara.
I doubt there are few really great musicians of our generation that have not at some stage been influenced by these two quiet giants of music.
Quiet because both very rarely if ever still performed in public and their holy shrine the only place to hear and study at length with them was here at the Chigiana for three months each summer.
Ferrara struck down by a form of epilepsy that would only allow him to conduct if a doctor was present as in his recordings in the recording studio can testify with Mario Lanza or the Mahler 5 for Visconti’s magical film Death in Venice.
Agosti whose mentor had been Busoni had long dedicated himself almost totally to imparting his unrivelled musical knowledge to his own studio where the entire music world flocked every year to hear the most exemplary playing that somehow the Maestro could not produce in the impersonal concert halls.
Both had lain the stones for some incredible musical careers. Abbado,Mehta,Barenboim are just three of the many,none of whom have ever forgotten the musical experience received in Siena in their formative years.
As a young student I had heard of this marvel and determined to get there to see and experience it for myself.
And so in my first year at the Royal Academy fellow piano student ,Peter Bithell and I sneaked off to Siena to have a taste of this enticing elixir.
Little did we know that someone had spilled the beans at the RAM and we found to our amazement and surprise that instead of being told off we had in fact been given a helping hand in the form of Tobias Matthay Fellowships to allow us to spend the entire summer undisturbed by financial considerations.
There was a very popular athletic looking young Australian with blond hair and blue eyes that Agosti’s fabulously beautiful wife ,Lydia Stix,took under her wing immediately as the Maestro had found that this young man could also do no wrong at the piano .
Here was a student who was on the same wave length as the Maestro.
Someone totally prepared technically but also with a profound knowledge and respect for the scores he was interpreting.
I still remember (as it was a very unusual occurrence) Agosti complimenting this amazing young pianist on his superb mature understanding in an extraordinary performance of Beethoven op 101 Sonata.
This young man has gone on since in the intervening forty years to dedicate himself to a profound study and understanding of many neglected scores and in particular went on to take London by storm in a series of ten historic recitals at the Wigmore Hall of all the major (not necessarily well known) works of Liszt.
Recording on 99 CD’ s the entire output of Liszt for solo piano and piano and orchestra missing only one work that unexpectedly appeared at Sothebys for auction and then promptly disappeared into private hands.
An enormous enterprise that has earned him a place in the Guinness book of records!
Never forgetting his formative years he too has dedicated himself to sharing his musical principles and has a following of remarkable young disciples whose careers he follows with great interest always ready to help with advice or even offering joint concerts.
Founder of the Keyboard Trust established with these very principles in mind by Noretta Conci-Leech and her husband John Leech .
Infact two of these disciples Mark Viner (at only 26 President of the Alkan Society and winner of the first Alkan Competition in Athens ) and Iyad I. Sughayer (one of the Middle East’s most promising young artists) were present today fresh from their triumphs in recent appearances for the Trust in the USA,Cyprus and Manchester.
I am talking,of course, of Leslie Howard who was appearing in London for the final concert in the tenth anniverdary season of The Eaton Square Concerts at St Peters.
As we have come to expect from this very distinguished musician a programme of some neglected masterpieces intermingled with an established classic.
Mozart Sonata in A Major K.331 ,Grieg Sonata op 7 Liszt Sarabande and Chaconne from Handel’s .Almira ( the set piece for the Utrech International Liszt Competition of which Leslie is President of the Jury as he is also President of the Liszt Society in London).Rachmaninov’s much negelected First Sonata op 28.
A beautiful porticoed church in the heart of Belgravia in Eaton Square.
A church full of light and perhaps even more importantly a full house with a very attentive and appreciative audience.
A magnificent Fazioli concert grand on a specially constructed podium in the centre of this magnificent building.
Magnificent looking but also sounding as this church has a remarkably fine acoustic .
The first thing that was immediately apparent was the beauty of the sound produced by Leslie in the opening Mozart Sonata .
A great sense of style but allied to a great sense of character showing off not only the serious but also the most humorous sides of Mozart’s genius.
Some of the opening variations played with an unusual sensitivity immediately taking one by surprise in a work so often played in a rather dry accademic way.
The acciaccaturas played with such a captivating sense of humour it was refershing how such a well known work could come to life in the hands of someone who had the ability and command to make the music really speak in an almost operatic way.
The recurring motif in the Menuetto a revelation in its whispered entrance interrupting the proceedings.
The Rondo alla Turca played with all the the infectious insistence that makes nonesense of those that rattle it off as if a virtuoso show piece instead of part of a remarkable whole.
A passionate reading of Grieg’s much neglected Sonata in E minor .
Glenn Gould,another great original thinking musician, was a great advocate of this Sonata but apart from Cherkassky I do not think I have heard it before in recital.
Full of subtle colours and sumptuous sounds and a forward movement and sense of architecture the belied the usual fragmentary nature of compositions of this underrated composer.
Following on before the interval with a rarity indeed in Liszt’s Sarabande and Chaconne S.181 .
A transcription for solo piano written in 1879 for Liszt’s piano student Walter Bache to play at the Handel Festival in England
A magnificent work full of subtle virtuosity and a gradual build up in the Chaconne that is as impressive as those of Bach or Handel himself.
Strangely neglected and recently set as the obligatory piece for the Utrech International Piano Competition .
Thanks to performances as those of Leslie Howard tonight it will surely take its rightful place in the piano repertoire.
A virtuoso performance indeed but always with a sound that seemed to unite all the fragments into a unified whole . No mean task but in the hands of a real musician it can take on a shape and power as it did today.
A beautiful sense of balance in the Sarabande from a pianist that did not seem to move a muscle .
Completely still , concentrating and listening in a masterly way to the sounds that he was commanding from the orchestra he had in his hands.
Rachmaninov’s much neglected First Sonata in Leslie Howard’s hands tonight was totally absorbing in a way that I have rarely heard before.
Always finding the sonata rather long winded almost Medtner like in it lack of melodic invention compared to the more popular works of Rachmaninov.
Here tonight Leslie Howard showed how wrong I had been.
Here was a masterpiece full of such colour and musical invention from the menacing recurring bass figuration to the throbbingly passionate melody in the beautiful middle register of the piano.
Combined with the most exquisite cantabile sounds never forcing the sound but by such a subtle sense of balance allowing the melody to sing out so naturally.
All this again in a sound that seemed almost to be similar to what we used to describe as the Philadelphia,Cleveland or Berlin sound.
There was an overall sound created that seemed to create a whole that gave great architectural meaning and shape to this misunderstood work.
Great feats of virtuosity were thrown off,en passant,part of the fabric but certainly only part and not the raison d’etre as is so often the case in Rachmaninov.
A totally satisfying performance that was greeted by a well earned standing ovation.
Rachmaninov’s Prelude in G sharp minor was just the right encore chosen by Leslie to thank this very attentive audience.
The heart rending deep bass notes resembllng much of the profound Russian feelings found in the sonata and the ending played in a very subtle and totally convincing way as too rarely heard these days .
Manchester Cathedral with soloists of the Camerata with Iyad Sughayer :
Haydn The Seven Last Words and Messiaen Quartet for the End of Time
And so we come to the end of this experiment of a three concert collaboration between the Manchester Camerata and the Keyboard Charitable Trust.
Initiated last november with Alexander Ullman in February Emanuel Rimoldi and now in May the Jordanian Palestinian Iyad Sughayer.
All three remarkable young pianists from the Keyboard Trust “stable” chosen to play with the soloists of the Manchester Camerata in a series under the name of Upclose~The Next Generation.
An idea of that extraordinary man of the arts in Manchester chairman of the Camerata,Geoffrey Shindler.
The idea to give the opportunity to some of the finest young pianists of their generation a chance to expand their horizon and musical experience and enter the world of chamber music with some of the finest players in the country from the Camerata.In specially thought out programs in three of Manchester’s seemingly endless venues for the arts.
The newly refurbished and prize winning Whitworth Art Gallery;Home a brand new Arts Centre recently opened on the site of the old leather factory and tonight Manchester`s beautiful cathedral reborn after the terror and destruction that was wrought on this noble industrial city in the second world war.
Geoffrey Shindler’s “baby” has been conceived and received so well by the artists and public alike that plans are already under discussion for a new exciting season next year.
The young artists from the Keyboard Trust have already been selected and cannot wait to be part of such an extraordinary adventure with the players of the Camerata in some of the magnificent seemingly never ending venues for the arts that Manchester abounds.
Whether new or renovated spaces, a day does not seem to pass in which the enlightened city fathers together with private enterprise have put Manchester once again on the world map.
Originally an example of the great industrial revolution and now an example of how the arts in its many forms can be encouraged to flourish and nourish these nobly generous warm hearted “northerners” at the very soul of this green and hardy island .
The program of this last concert especially chosen to reflect this special venue so close to the hearts of so many of these extraordinarily resilient people.
Two pieces inspired by ecclesiastical texts in a place to reflect,be inspired and to escape for some invaluable moments from the pressures of life.
In fact it was the total silence and almost palpable concentration that surprised everyone,even the astonished audience in a remarkable performance of Messiaen`s moving masterpiece Quartet for the End of time. The work that was chosen to close this extraordinary concert .
It was as though we could sense a period of horror that we had both experienced but through a never wavering faith had come out of triumphant.
Was that not the very inspiration and message for perhaps the greatest of them all J.S.Bach?
The work written by Messiaen as a prisoner of war in a Nazi internment camp and first performed for 400 prisoners and guards in the camp outside in the pouring rain
Inspired by a passage from The Book of Revelation it is made up of eight movements for four virtuosi instrumentalist in an extremely complicated juxtaposition of four,three,two and even one soloist at a time depicting the sort of profound emotions where only music can arrive.
In fact the deep concentration and palpable atmosphere created was evidence enough that music can enter where words are just not enough.
Adi Brett`s enormously expressive violin playing on her wonderful sounding Guardagnini violin of 1752 (kindly on loan to the orchestra by Jonathan Moulds ,one of the UK`s most inspirational philanthropists) found an extraordinarily sensitive partner in the cello playing of Hannah Roberts remarkably seeming to play without looking at the score such was her total absorption in the music.
As was the extraordinarily expressive clarinet playing of Fiona Cross.
All this held tightly together by an ever vigilant Iyad Sughayer on his first revelatory visit to this extraordinary sound world of a true believer .
Amazingly pieced together in only two concentrated rehearsal days it says much for the enormous professional and musical skills of all concerned.
In fact it was Iyad who was moved to write for the first time of the moving experience on his first professional encounter with Messiaen.
Thus,of course,via the generosity of these players from the Camerata happy to share their talent ,experience and skills with a younger inexperienced colleague.
Generous yes,but also aware that there is always an on going dialogue between true musicians and the youthful innocence of this young jordanian palestinian virtuoso pianist injected his own enthusiasm and respectful reverence in a joint offering that was so freshly in evidence today.
The sublime final violin utterings gently accompanied by the piano with which this work movingly ends.The extraordinary intensity as the violin soars into infinity at the end brought aching minutes of silence such was the atmosphere created.
The movement for solo clarinet played with remarkably subtle virtuosity where every note seemed to express the inexpressible.
Hannah Robert’s moving duo with the pianist in which not once did she look at the score. Eye and heart contact is what she was seeking and found with Iyad in this sacred of all places.
Great feats of real virtuosity in the more violently rhythmic movements made one realise what being professional really can mean.
A great lesson imparted to these aspiring young musicians from the Keyboard Trust and hats off to Geoffrey Shindler and his innovative team that has truly made Manchester`s Camerata as described by The Times ” Britain`s most adventurous orchestra”.
Haydn`s Seven Last Words was written in 1786 ,commissioned by a cleric at the church of Santa Cueva in Cadiz for the season of Easter and is based on the last words of Christ: Forgiveness,Salvation,Relationship,Abandonment,Distress, Triumph and Reunion.
Here played in a juxtaposition divided between solo piano and string quartet.
Our players were joined by Rakhi Singh violin and Ulrich Eichenauer in exemplary quartet playing in which individually expressive voices were welded into one completely absorbing musical conversation.
Their dynamic range was quite extraordinary and was matched by some exquisitely refined piano playing from whom I learn was a local boy done good.
For Iyad had been sent to Manchester by his parents at the age of fourteen to Chethams Music school .A school which aims to give gifted children a complete education but where musical needs are understood and nurtured from a very early age.
Along the lines of the Purcell and Menuhin Schools that are so essential for giving the necessary early grounding should these obviously gifted young children wish to pursue their early talent later in life.
Lucky Iyad who has been under the guidance of the ever vigilant Murray McLachlan who has been and still is a guiding light for young musicians.
Strange coincidence that his own mentors were Norma Fisher and Peter Katin.
Norma as a child guided by Sidney Harrison as I too was in my home town and his of Chiswick.
He was the first to give piano lessons on television- to Peter Croser- in the days when one used to have to look into this newly arrived box where programs were shown in black and white for a few hours each evening . His next door neighbour was Eamon Andrews the famous television presenter of This is your Life.
One of the only places that one could hear Peter Katin at the end of what had been a remarkable career was in my theatre in Rome where he would come to play and give masterclasses every year well in to his late seventies when he was long forgotten by his once adoring public from the stable of Madam Tillett- in fact part of that very select group of Moura Lympany,Shura Cherkassky and Rosalyn Tureck.
Iyad now perfecting his studies in London with Martino Tirimo at Trinity Laban is regarded as one of the Middle East`s most promising young artists.
Strange juxtaposition of movements divided between the piano and string quartet~never the twain should meet one could say.
A pity but thankful for such beautiful stylish playing even though not entirely convincing me that this was what Haydn intended.
Such playing that mesmerised the audience and one very enthusiastic member was in rapt discussion with Geoffrey Schindler in the interval both endorsing the sublime beauty of what we had just beheld and the extraordinary playing from all concerned.
A well earned glass of beer at the old pub conveniently placed next to the Cathedral and so to the early slumbers that befalls this gloriously active city ready for who knows what treats in store tomorrow.
Martin James Bartlett at the Chopin Society in Westminster Cathedral Hall London today.
Winner of BBC Young Musician of the Year 2014 at the age of 17 and now at the tender age of 20 beginning to make a name for himself throughout the country.
He is infact one of a very select group of remarkable young British musicians who are demonstrating to the world how important the early training of our young musicians is.
Often criticised for their great musicality but lack of that solid early essential technical preparation from childhood that the Eastern countries could offer.
Thanks to institutions such as the Purcell and Menuhin schools that offer a complete education to gifted young children this is no longer the case .
The BBC ,RAM and RCM early training schemes play an important part too.
Such is being proven on the International Circuit with pianists still in their 20’s or even younger taking the world by storm .
Benjamin Grosvenor also a BBC Young Musician of the Year at the age of 12 now at 23 is an established star of the International concert world .
And now we have two very fine young musicians – for that is what they are above all – but also refined virtuosi of their instrument- both selected for two of the major International Piano Competitions .
They will be competing in the next few days with the finest young talents the world has to offer.
I am referring to Julian Trevelyan who at the tender age of 16 took everyone by surprise by winning top prize at the Margherite Long Competition in Paris and now at 18 is competing probably today in the prestigious Rubinstein Competition in Tel Aviv.
Martin James Bartlett has been selected from hundreds auditioned worldwide to compete in the Van Cliburn Competition in Texas at the end of the month.
Martin already well known via his television Prom performances having studied at the RCM and Purcell School is now perfecting his studies under the guidance of Vanessa Latarche ,that remarkable head of keyboard studies at the RCM who has brought the finest talents to London to teach and study.
She too I well remember as a little girl the star pupil of Eileen Rowe in Ealing who single handed dedicated her life to training and promoting talented young children.
A house full of pianos and lessons from morning to evening and a chance for us to earn some money for our own advanced studies helping out this remarkable lady who after her death left a bequest to the Eileen Rowe Trust to continue her dedicated work from afar.
There must be something about the air in Ealing the home for so many years of Dmitri Alexeev and Murray Perahia – both of whom winners of the Leeds International Piano Competition where musicianship allied to virtuoso technique have always been the trade mark of that other remarkable lady and founder Dame Fanny Waterman ( also a student of the RCM under Cyril Smith).
How proud Eileen Rowe would have been to have heard Martin yesterday for he epitomises all the qualities that she and Vanessa Latarche consider paramount.
That is: a musicianship that knows how to look at the original indications of the composer and turn them into sounds with an infallible technique of ten wonderful musicians in their two hands .
A magnificent Symphony Orchestra at their command indeed!
And so we all flocked yesterday to listen to Martin thanks to the generosity of Lady Rose Cholmondeley and her wonderful team headed by Gillian Margaret Newman .
Here we are able on Sunday afternoons to hear some of these remarkable young musicians together with established artists such as Peter Donohoe and Janina Fialkowska in an almost family atmosphere of yore.
Immediately establishing his credentials with two Scarlatti Sonatas in which the characterisation and total immersion in this very special sound world were quite mesmerising .
Crystal clear ornaments too showed off his early training .
But there was more than this .
There was a genuine talent to make the music speak something that can be encouraged by early training but cannot be taught .
It is a God given gift probably with an extra sensitive ear to all sounds heard from birth.
These were full blooded performances played with passion and colour but above all with a good taste that was aware of the period and the instruments that these 500 miniature masterpieces were written for.
Horowitz was the first in our time to combine these two worlds and show us how with good taste and style these pieces could and should be played on the modern piano with all the advantages of an instrument that Scarlatti could not have known.
The Beethoven Sonata op 31 n.3 popularly known as the Hunt had us afterwards reaching for the score such were the surprises that Martin had in store through his thorough musicianly reading of Beethoven’s own indications.(The last two chords of the first movement played piano instead of the more usual forte ).
The only other musician who can reveal new light on such well known scores is Murray Perahia who spends hours pouring over original editions to get as close to the composers intentions as possible.
The Scherzo .Allegretto vivace was a little too fast to allow it to be played with all the tongue in cheek character that Beethoven could also be capable of in this period.
The sheer beauty of the Menuetto showed off all the perfect balance between the hands and allowed this new Steinway to sing as it rarely is allowed to.
The charming grazioso was just that and made one realise just why Saint Saens had taken that motif for his variations for two pianos.
Presto con fuoco ending was very clearly played with sparing use of the pedal that allowed the Hunt to continue to its inexorable end undisturbed by any unwanted clouds .
The Liszt Sonetto del Petrarca was played with real passion and sense of style that only a young man with a great romantic heart could offer.
Sumptuous sounds from the piano and some really ravishing playing.
The same ravishing,teasing almost scintillating sounds that he found later in the little waltz op.64.n.2 by Chopin where his perfect sense of balance allowed this well known piece to be played with a charm and grace that is of a real born Chopin player.
Bach’s great C minor Toccata could have been more insistent with its main theme more marcato alla Tureck but it was a very fine performance played with great style and forward propulsion and was the perfect opening piece after the interval for what was to follow.
Jacket now thrown to the wind as Martin launched ,and that is the word,into Prokofiev’s Seventh Sonata .
One of the three so called War Sonatas numbers 6,7 and 8.
And war it was with the real energy and zeal that only a young man could have found on discovering this extraordinary sound world .
Enormous sounds from the bass and cascades of notes from the treble played with great verve and a rhythmic energy that was quite infectious for this seemingly rather staid audience of the Chopin Society.
Beautifully shaped slow movement where the great melody was allowed to sing and make such a contrast between the two outer movements .
The Precipitato last movement was just that .
Played at full throttle the insistent left hand rhythm never for a moment allowed to wane Infact as the movement moves inexorably to its final enormous crescendo it was quite a tour de force even for this young virtuoso to keep the momentum right to the end .
No wonder he had thrown off his jacket and caution to the wind as he was prepared to fight to the end ……..and he certainly did as the spontaneous standing ovation could testify.
A single encore after much persuasion from an audience totally overcome by this extraordinary exhibition .
Schubert G flat Impromptu op 90 n.3 played with such refined rubato and sense of balance where the sublime melodic line was allowed to soar and sing as it only can in the hands of a real musician.