Ariel Lanyi at St Mary’s

Ariel Lanyi at St Mary’s
The stars were shining brightly yesterday for the opening of Hugh Mather’s new season at St Mary’s Perivale.
A true mecca for some of the most talented young pianists wishing to enter the musical scene in London.

                                            Programme of St Mary’s Perivale
A programme announced of some 42 pianists together with its nearby sister St Barnabas that this dedicated musician, a retired physician, is helping to bring generations of amazingly talented young musicians to a discerning and deserving public.
In a beautiful 12th century redundant church that since 1976 has become a flourishing centre for classical music.
With his faithful helpers including Roger Nellist and a superb piano technician nephew of the renowned singer Richard Lewis each concert is professionally video recorded live on the fine Yamaha and Bosendorfer pianos that live in St Mary’s and St Barnabas .
It has become an invaluable stepping stone for a generation of musicians seeking to make their way in a very difficult often overcrowded profession in which the very first steps are the most difficult to make.
And so it did not come as a surprise to find a new name amongst the pianists: that of the young Israeli pianist Ariel Lanyi.
Still only 21 and in the final year of his “Masters” at the Royal Academy of Music in London.
Already a seasoned performer since his debut with orchestra at the age of 7 .He has played with many orchestras including the Israel Symphony and the City of Birmingham .He was awarded last year first prize at the prestigious Dudley International Piano Competition.
Glancing at a programme of Schubert and Beethoven it was obvious that we were in the hands of a true musician and I later learnt that he had been working in London with Hamish Milne and for the past few years with Ian Fountain both renowned for their remarkable intelligent musicianship.
I had just been to Highgate Cemetery to visit the grave of the leggendary pianist Shura Cherkassky who had played for us in Rome over a period of almost ten years.

Shura Chrekassky with Constance Channon Douglass at the Ghione Theatre in Rome
Talking about young pianist he often used to say that he did not think they listened enough to themselves !
Well it came as a refreshing change to hear a pianist such as Ariel Lanyi who not only listened to himself but could make the piano speak in a way that is very rare indeed these days .
Tobias Matthay imparted to his students the way to listen to every note and to find the minutest gradations of tone as though there was a word on every note that had to tell a story.
And what a story in the hands of Dame Myra Hess and Dame Moura Lympany
.Leschetizky too stressed the same to wonderful effect with Moiseiwitsch ,Schnabel and Katherine Goodson the teacher of Clifford Curzon that true poet of the piano.
There were indeed ravishing sounds today but with an intelligence and searching musicality that is of the chosen few.
It was refreshing to see the way he caressed the keys with fingers like steel but wrists like rubber .
I have only recently noticed that in a young pianist with André Gallo.
It was the same touch that was noticeable in Rosalyn Tureck who brought to the piano an ultra sensitivity of touch that allowed for the minutest gradations of tone without for a second loosing the rhythmic energy that comes from within the music itself.
The song and the dance is that not the very basis for music ?
These days we have marvellous resiliant intruments that can take the treatment dished out by many so called virtuosi .
Acoustically assisted sound in halls seating thousands means that the secret of real projection is of no importance.
The Rubinsteins,Rachmaninovs,Hoffmans had learnt the secret of projecting their magic sound to the “ Gods” .
It was the art of every great artist to take the time and with a subtle sense of balance project their sound into the great opera houses and halls to their adoring public .
There were no microphones to help, just two hands and two feet on an instrument that was still being perfected.
“Tricks of the trade” my old “piano daddy” Sidney Harrison used to call it
I was shown around the opera house in Venice- La Fenice and it was explained to me that under the orchestral pit there were one and a half meters of glass because the old master builders knew that it was glass that reflected the sound.

         Ileana Ghione in 1995 visiting Cherkassky tomb in Highgate
No pressing of buttons but it was the true art of a great artist.
Like an actor that has trained the diaphram to produce and modulate the voice – JohnGuilgood, Lawrence Olivier,Dame Edith Evans spring to mind .
I doubt that many of todays actors know what a diaphram is but they do know at what level their microphones should be tuned!
All this springs to mind when you hear someone that can play Schubert’s six Moments Musicaux and Beethoven’s Tempest Sonata in a way that can grip your attention from the first to the last note
I was sorry to have missed the first two Moments Musicaux but on arriving late from Highgate I was able to hear the Allegro moderato in F minor played with a subtle sense of colour ,not quite the charm that Curzon used to find but a very delicate palate that led to the almost Bachian meanderings of the C sharp minor .
Beautifully modulated and shaped .The middle section played in a way that made me want to rush home and look at the score as I often do after a recital by Murray Perahia the most discerning of todays pianists .
The Allegro vivace contrasted well with the supreme delicacy of the beautiful Allegretto in A flat.
Time taken inbetween each of the moments as though he were cleaning the slate and preparing the canvas for another wonderful discovery .
I found the Allegretto of the Tempest Sonata a little too fast and Ariel was ready to explain the reason for his tempo.As it is the only movement in 3/8 and so there should always be this forward movement .Infact he played much of this movement with the Beethovenian vehemance that was missing in the first movement that was a little too much like op 110 missing the Sturm und Drang of the master in this period of his life.
Ariel played it really quite magnificently and if I disagree with certain details it is with an intelligent thinking musician who cares desperately about the music and bringing the printed notes alive .
Not to insist but Allegretto for me in this period of Beethoven’s life means something more pastoral and it is in fact op 31 that follows on from op 28 the so called Pastoral Sonata.
I have never heard the ending of the first movement played so beautifully but felt he could have dug deeper into the string in the deep bass notes marked forte or fortissimo that are answered by the beseeching treble marked piano.
Beethoven’s revolutionary pedal markings were beautifully realised by someone who was listening so intently to every sound produced .
There were so many remarkable things to admire in the slow movement but above all his sense of orchestration that produced a kaleidoscope of colours that was quite hypnotic.
The little Rondo in D by Mozart was played with an irresistible charm and a very subtle sense of ornamentation that shows a quite unique sense of style and musicianship.
Much in common with Francesco Piemontesi who is indeed fast becoming an established star .
I was not surprised to see Lisa Peacock in the audience a concert manager with an infallible ear who had obviously heard about this rising young star that our Hugh had invited to open his season.
Luke Jones on Friday at St Barnabas who I had heard play in Manchester recently a Brahms Paganini of such beauty that the transcendental hurdles that he surmounted did not even enter into the discussion .
What a line up ……….Hats off to Hugh Mather and his dedicated team.
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