Nicolae Dumitru the great communicator in the name of Enescu

Nicolae Dumitru at the Romanian Culturale Institute

A packed out hall at the Romanian Institute for the Enescu Concert Series.

Having just returned from the Enescu Festival in Romania I can testify as to what reverence the memory of this great musician is held.…/…

For us he is well known as the much loved mentor of Yehudi Menuhin .
But he was a prodigy on the piano and violin graduating at a very early age in Vienna and completing his studies at the Paris Conservatoire with the one wish to compose.
There are so many compositions almost unknown to us and it is the ambition of this series to invite musicians of stature with the sole obligation of including at least one work by Enescu in their programme

Tonight Nicolae Dumitru included three pieces from the Suite.3 op 18:Melodie,Mazurk Melancolique and the Appassionato.

Maestro Dumitru is obviously a born communicator.

In 2013 he initiated ,with the sponsorship of the Raiffeisen Bank,a series of educational concerts in 15 Romanian cities.
During the Franz Liszt Bicentennial Year (2011) he performed “Liszt dans le Metro” in the Bucharest subway!

In fact it was his very learned introductions that made for such a stimulating evening tonight.
From his explanation as to who was Enescu .
Following after Chopin’s first Ballade with the fact that Brahms was one of the last of the composer pianists of his period.As indeed was Rachmaninoff.

It gave us food for thought indeed in his performances of one of Brahms last compositions for the piano the beautiful set of six pieces that make up op 118.

And one of the last composition for piano of Rachmaninoff The Corelli Variations op 42.

This fine musician to finish his lecture recital treated his audience to an improvisation sharing with us in music the mood of this day of sun in London
A drink together in the beautiful ever generous Romanian Institute gave the audience a chance to discuss and delve deeper into the thoughts that had been seeded in an unsually stimulating evening in the name of Enescu.


L'immagine può contenere: 1 persona, spazio al chiuso
L'immagine può contenere: 1 persona, spazio al chiuso
L'immagine può contenere: una o più persone e spazio al chiuso
L'immagine può contenere: 1 persona, spazio al chiuso


Vengerov and Papian Enescu Festival Che Festa !

Vengerov and Papian – Enescu Festival Welcome to their party in Sibiu
Maxim Vengerov and Vag Papian for the Enescu Festival in Sibiu
This recital was the last in the series of five concerts in Sibiu for the Enescu Festival .
A recital that will close this three week feast of music on Sunday in Bucharest.
Every seat in the house was taken for Maxim Vengerov the 14 year old boy who took London by storm all those years ago and is now sharing his gifts with a world in desperate need of charm and beauty.
It is the same charm and total assurance that he shares equally in his masterclasses with young musicians as with his adoring public in concert.
His charm,stature and total control remind me not a little of Pavarotti!
“Perfection ,which is the passion of so many people,is irrelevant to me.What is important in art is to vibrate and make others vibrate” George Enescu
As was clear last night it is not the absolute perfection of Vengerov but his ability to communicate with the audience and to make them feel that he is playing for each and every one present that lead to a party type atmosphere that only the greatest of musicians can create.
And he too was now part of this party and ever generous regaled the footstamping and rhythmic clapping ,that he had generated, with four encores.
Two by Kreisler, that other great communicator :Caprice Viennois op.2 and Tambourin Chinois op 3.
Played with such subtle charm and evident contageous enjoyment that it could only be followed by a dream.
“Apres un reve” played with that wonderful golden sound that was very much Kreislers The glorious sounds soaring into the auditorium and greeted by an absolute golden silence from a public mesmerised by the elegance of this young charmer.
Greeted eventually
by a storm of applause a last farewell with Brahms Hungarian Dance n.2.
An announcement immediately afterwards even said that the arists would be glad to meet the audience and sign autographs!
What fun we all had. Not even the artists wanted to say goodbye.
Of course in all this we have spoken only of Vengerov .
The amazing discovery for me was the pianist Vag Papian every bit his equal on this occasion.
Music just poured out of the piano with such marvellous sounds that matched the violin so perfectly.
Listening so intently he hardly looked at the score in a long and difficult programme. Infact in the last encore he did not even have the score.
In his hands the piano became a magic box of sounds.
A real orchestra with such total control of the whole line but with such temperament that he shared the sparks with his famous partner.
I read that he is also a very distinguished conductor directing from the piano with the English Chamber Orchestra and many others worldwide.
Not suprised.
I doubt that the Enescu Sonata – n.2 op 6 in place of the advertised better known n.3- could have had a finer reading .
An earlywork from 1899 it was the first work in which the young Enescu had found his voice fusing Rumanian folk elements, through the use of the Aeolian mode ever present in Moldavian folk music, with the classical sonata structure.
Enescu (1881-1955) was a child prodigy in violin and piano graduating in Vienna at the age of 13 and later completing his studies at the Paris Conservatoire where this work was composer shortly after.
Dedicated to Jacque Thibaut there is a famous recording of Enescu playing it with Dinu Lipatti.
The bare opening theme played in unison and leading to impassioned sections played with great feeling by the two players in total harmony.The spirted dance like Vif played with great rhythmic energy.
The Brahms FAE sonata movement and the great D minor Sonata op 108 received sumptuous full blooded performances.
The piano providing the almost orchestral support and in the scherzo – un poco presto e con sentimento- coming very much into his own and leading with great charm and delicacy before launching into the massive Presto Agitato .
The soaring melody in the Adagio can rarely have been given a more impassioned and beautiful reading.
After the interval the Cesar Franck Sonata played with all the virtuosity and impassioned beauty that makes this work so loved.
No words can express the atmosphere created in the hall by the total fusion of these two great artists.
It was indeed an evening that will long be remembered and it was a privilege to have been present at such an intimately impassioned evening amongst friends.

Ilya Kondratiev at St Mary’s Perivale

Ilya Kondratiev at St Mary’s Perivale
Good to be back for the Hugh Mathers new series of concerts in this beautiful deconsacrated church in the idyllic surroundings of Ealing Golf course.
I counted 32 concerts in the Autumn series from the 4th September until the 13th December.
A series that includes many of the finest young musicians of the land giving them a much needed platform to a very discerning enthusiastic public.
Under the ever vigilant eye of Hugh Mather who chooses the numerous young artists with a special regard to helping them take a step forward in their long and difficult journey to a career on the concert platform .
“Heaven helps those who help themselves” says La Fontaine and it is wonderful to see with what obvious relish and delight that Hugh presents these young artists to his numerous faithful public.
Today it was the turn of Ilya Kondratiev, winner of the Chappell Gold Medal at the RCM and student of Vanessa Latarche ,Head of Keyboard Studies,and former student of Miss Eileen Rowe,that great teacher of talented children just a stones throw from St Mary’s in Ealing.
She and Hugh Mather run the Trust that was set up in her name to help needy young musicians from Ealing. There must be something about the air in Ealing that inspires this sort of wish to help,promote but above all relish good music.
This was certainly not Ilya’s first visit to St Mary’s and I am sure the audience was keen to hear his programme of Beethoven,Liszt and Chopin that filled the air in this beautiful wooden church for and hour on Tuesday afternoon.
The Sonata in E flat op 31 n.3 sometimes known as “La Chasse” was the first work on the programme.
I have heard Ilya play it before at the RCM and for that other indefatigable promoter of young musicians Canan Maxton of Talent Unlimited but rarely have I heard him play in such a mature almost aristocratic manner as today.
There was all the self identification that is so much part of Ilya’s performances but there was also a feeling of that time and weight that Arrau used to treat us to.
In fact there was a maturity that can only be acquired by the most talented in living and sharing the music in public.
This is just the sort of opportunity that Hugh Mather is able to offer to that amazing array of talent that is now before us as never before.
The beautiful shape in the Menuetto with the ornaments played as part of the melodic line as only a singer would do.
A fine sense of balance that allowed the melody to sing out without any forcing of tone on this not easy Yamaha piano.
Here was a real musician listening intently to every note.
From the very first note he imbued this Sonata ,a favourite of Arthur Rubinstein,with all the character indeed of “La Chasse” .
The same almost pastoral character of the Sonata op 28 that preceeds the op 31’s.
A country character that bubbled over with energy in the final Presto con fuoco.
This movement played more seriously than he usually does reminded me of the ebulliant energy generated in last movement of Schubert’s great C minor Sonata .
Following with Liszt’s Sarabande and Chaconne from Handel’s Almira admirably introduced from the stage by Ilya himself.
Played with all the sumptuous sounds that Liszt regales this simple melody with.
Leading to some transcendental piano playing in which Ilya showed off his considerable technical prowess and temperament in a most exciting performance of what was once a rarely heard work of Liszt.
Let us not forget that Ilya was a top prize winner together with Alexander Ullman in the Liszt Bartok Competition in Budapest some six years ago.
Two Scherzi by Chopin completed the programme.
N.1 in B minor was written in 1831 when Chopin was persuaded to stay in Vienna by his friend Thomas Albrecht even though in his native Poland there was the November uprising against the Russian Empire.
This and several of the op. 10 studies including the “Revolutionary” were written in this period and one can imagine Chopin’s state of mind from the character with which he imbues these works.
Scherzo literally means joke but as Schumann commented on hearing this first Scherzo :” How is “gravity” to clothe itself if “jest” goes about in dark veils”
It was just this great temperament that Ilya brought to his performance . Not an easy task with the exposed scale passages that abound. But Ilya managed to anchor them very firmly to the ground giving again a great Arrau type weight to this masterpiece.
The ornaments not quite incorporated into the framework yet as they were so splendidly in the Beethoven.
But this is a new work in Ilya’s repertoire and that will surely come in his next performances which will be for a new important venue in Glasgow for the Keyboard Charitable Trust .
The beautiful Old Polish Christmas song in the middle section played with great sentiment but not an ounce of sentimentality that can so often happen .
Restoring the aristocratic nobility to Chopin’s heartfelt outpourings in this difficult period away from his beloved homeland.
The 3rd Scherzo,written in the old Monastery in Valldemossa on Majorca where his lover George Sand took him on a disastrous trip intentionally to cure him of the illness that was consuming him.
Great sense of line even in the long choral that is interrupted by magical cascades of notes played with great delicacy.
The transcendental piano playing in the coda brought this short recital to an exciting end.
A public that would not let this young artist go without an encore.
A Scarlatti Sonata played with crystalline clarity the beautifully melodic D minor.
Calm after the storm indeed from a remarkable young musician and indeed a great favourite with Hugh Mather’s very discerning public.

Frederic Bager at St James’s Piccadilly Beethoven Piano Society of Europe

Frederic Bager at St James’s Beethoven Piano Society of Europe
Frederic Berger at St James`s Piccadilly for the Beethoven Piano Society of Europe
Some extraordinarily beautiful playing from this young British/Swiss pianist.
Graduate with honours of the RCM under the guidance of Andrew Ball .
He is now studying at the RAM on a “Kulturprozent” artist’s promotion programme of the Swiss retail company ,Migros.
Under the guidance of Ian Fountain,the youngest winner at the age of 19 of the 1989 Arthur Rubinstein Competition, it was hardly surprising to marvel at the complete intellectual and technical control on this not easy Fazioli Piano.
Already a recipient of the Kendall Taylor Beethoven Prize at the RCM Frederic Berger opened his lunchtime concert for the Beethoven Piano Society of Europe Series with Beethoven’s most gently poetic Sonata op 28 “Pastorale”.
A wonderful sense of texture in which the percussive nature of the piano was concealed by a masterly control of balance that gave this gentle sonata the same impact that Alicia De Larrocha used to achieve in her regular performances of this work so much loved by Beethoven himself .
The calm before the storm indeed because this op 28 is then followed by the op 31 sonatas of which n.2 is indeed named the ” Tempest”.
Some beautiful shadings and subtle phrasing allied to a sense of architecture that was not easy to achieve on this usually rather bright piano.
His exceptional control of balance was even more noticeable in the Scriabinesque meanderings of Berg’s great Sonata op 1.
Such a clear sense of line that I have rarely heard in this Sonata but allied to a very senstive colour palate .
The line created by allowing the melody as such to shine out with very subtle strands all around never once allowing them to overpower the line that usually has to struggle to survive.
It was all so remarkably clear today.
Anyone who has played or heard others play this Sonata will know what a transcendental technique is required but above all ears that listen so attently to every sound that Berg fills the air with.
This lead to exceptionally passionate climax but never allowing the texture to harden or distort.
Gesange der Fruhe op 133 one of Schumann’s very elusive last works was here given a reading where for the first time I began to understand at last Agosti’s passionate love of this piece.
Agosti would play as only he could in his studio in Siena and Rome the beautiful bewegt extolling in his inimitable way the shere beauty that was to be found.
Much as we heard it today from this young man’s passionate but ultra sensitive hands.
The dotted rhythms that in Schumann can all too often be so tiresome were here given a shape and colour that was for once totally convincing.
After the beauty of Schumann’s last utterings in the hands of this poet of the keyboard it was not possible to expect any more from a very attentive audience that included the Chairman of the Beethoven Society Julian Jacobson.
Himself about to embark on a series of four recitals for his 70th Birthday celebrations starting in St Johns on the 22nd October.