Mariam Batsashvili gave two concerts in Germany on the 26th April at Steinway Hall Cologne and the 27th April at the magnificent Orangery at Castle Rheda this is what Moritz von Bredow wrote:
“please allow me to send you my report on Mariam Batsashvili‘s two very outstanding piano recitals last week in Cologne and Rheda-Wiedenbrück. The latter one was followed by two most amazing reviews in local newspapers.The audience in Cologne was small but enthusiastic and very attentive, and the hall in Rheda-Wiedenbrück was completely sold out.The programme consisted of:
Bach/Busoni – Chaconne D Minor
Mozart – Rondo A Minor K511
Schubert – Impromptu F Minor op. 142/1
Liszt – Hungarian Rhapsody no. 12
Chopin – Andante Spianato et Grande Polonaise Brillante op. 22
Mozart/Liszt – Fantasy on themes from Figaro and Don Giovanni (completed by Leslie Howard)
Mariam started the evening with the Chaconne, a work that most pianists would use to end a programme. The opening chords were placed in a grand and solemn mood , and it was these first notes that already made everybody listen with deepest attention. What followed was a unique demonstration of wonderfully understood Bach as well as meticulously prepared Busoni. Never forgetting the intimate and figurative playing of the violin, Mariam Batsashvili exposed the grandeur of Busoni’s orchestral use of the piano in unparalleled ways. Her sense of rhythm as well as her demonstration of each of the various themes’ architecture and counterpoint were breathtaking. She never got lost in small pieces, but saw the entity of this one work, going through the most difficult fugal developments in a seemingly easy way. Mariam’s highly intelligent understanding of the difficult structure of this work made it possible that the listener could hear lines and inner melodies that before may never have been shown that clearly. La forza of La Batsashvili was never left to chance – she controls the piano whenever she wants, and this her orchestral sound is huge, but always transparent and never hard. Thus, La Chacona was something that could not have started this evening in a better manner.
What followed was equally beautiful: concise and unsentimental, yet flowing and absolutely rhythmical interpretation of Mozart’s Rondo in A minor. This work, written only a few years before Mozart died, is very difficult in that one may easily fall into overromantic expression. Mariam had prepared this piece meticulously and never left the path of idiomatic Mozartism. The lightness of her playing, her sheer understanding and deep love for Mozart’s music, made this one of the the most moving works of the evening.
It fitted well to hear Schubert’s first of four Impromptus op. 142 in F minor. Schubert wrote this cycle the year before he died, already ill and pensive. There was a relentless pulse going through the opening bars, and this continued throughout the peace with the exception of the more lyrical parts. Also in this piece, as before and after, it was clear that Mariam was able to connect with the Epoque of the composer’s time, with its spirit which she brought to life so beautifully. Her sound was always clear, her use of both pedals admirable – her technical mastery of all works is without any doubt one of the best that I have heard in recent years.
Before the interval, Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody no. 12 was interpreted in a rendition that reminded me of Geza Anda’s or Lazar Berman’s great interpretations. The mystical opening developed soon into a rhythmic firework and the mystic depth in the manifold beauty of Liszt’s music. I am sure Leslie would have enjoyed this performance so very, very much. BRAVISSISSIMA, MARIAM!!
After the well-deserved interval, Mariam Batsashvili played Chopin’s Andante Spianato and Grande Polonaise op 22 -again, and idiomatic expression of Chopin’s tonal language that left nothing open. Rubinstein would have loved her here. It is that mood of solemn and pensive meditation that Mariam can contrast so perfectly with melodic and happy dancing as well as heavy orchestral developments. She can do it all, no question, out of her most natural talent.
This evening ended with Liszt’s Fantasy on themes from two operas by Mozart, completed by Leslie. What an honour to hear Mariam perform this work, immensely difficult and yet it sounded so light, so cheerful, with these incredibly difficult scales, jumps and mystical roaring in the left hand challenges that left everybody startled.
The encore consisted of a Menuet by Ignacy Paderewski from his Humoresques de Concert. Everybody would have loved to dance with Mariam at that moment!
Had I dared, I would have kneeled down before Mariam after these ever so beautiful recitals.
Mariam Batsashvili really is one of the best pianists the KT has ever supported. Her understanding of the music comes from an indescribable inner connection to each epoch, to each era’s spirit from which the composers have given us their music. It seems as if Mariam comes from the Baroque era, having jumped into the romantic period, then back to Salzburg and Vienna in the late 18th century – it is clear to me that she feels deeply connected when she plays. Mariam is an amazing pianist who controls everything, she is perfectly prepared, highly professional and at the same time highly sensitive, kind and modest, without giving up her inner strength. Mariam is a great, musical and ideal classical pianist, and I feel honoured and am very grateful that I could look after her during these days.
Our conversations were at all times profound, and her spirit as well as her intelligence make Mariam Batsashvili a most wonderful person to be with. As a pianist and as a person, she has moved me deeply. It is from her inner personality, her ability to observe and listen where her art of playing the piano comes from. I believe that her future will be bright, and I’m wishing her this. All doors should be open for her, and any consider recital that might be a special acknowledgement of her position in the musical world should be given to her at any time.
I will not forget these days and am enormously looking forward to July, 5th when Mariam Batsashvili will return to play Bach’s Goldberg Variations for The Keyboard Trust in Hamburg, at Steinway Hall and at my home. I guess I should kneel down then.
Moritz von Bredow