Love,Betrayal ,Death and pure fun at the Chelsea Arts Club
I like to think that it was not just a coincidence that Umberto Jacopo Laureti and Adrian Brendle were performing in two different venues on two different nights in the centre of London over the weekend.
Both are ex students of my old Alma Mater the Royal Academy and more importantly coached by the only British pianist to have won first prize at the Artur Rubinstein Competition in Tel Aviv.
I am talking ,of course ,about Ian Fountain.
It is a well known fact that many illustrious musicians who live in London are very rarely invited to perform in the capital.
Infact Ian Fountain was on a plane to a concert tour in China whilst leaving us with two of his prize students in London.
It is obvious listening to the extreme intelligence and musicianship of these two young artists that the coaching they have received over the past years has helped shape their artistry and will be a solid base for future growth in their up and coming careers.
Umberto’s was a cameo performance as an introduction to an operatic evening which included a mini Italian wine tasting.
Whilst these fine young singers were invoking Love ,Betrayal and Death ,Umberto was ravishing their audience with a beautifully shaped performance of Liszt’s paraphrase on the quartet from Verdi’s Rigoletto.
Some virtuoso playing on a beautiful sounding Steinway in St Giles Cripplegate just the other side of the lake to the Barbican Centre.
Beautiful sounding but quite problematic mechanically Umberto was to tell me later.
But such was his artistry and professionalism we were not at all aware of the battle he was waging in a performance of quite breathtaking sweep and colour.
It was just last June that Adrian Brendle had played in the same church but on a specially imported Bechstein for a concert dedicated to the famous lunchtime National Gallery concerts that Myra Hess instigated during the war.
All the pictures had been placed in a safe haven whilst the Londoners including the Queen decided to stay with Churchill and battle it out with the enemy.
This too had been given a general title of “Swords and Ploughshares “
Now the day after Umberto’s concert Adrian had been invited to play in the beautifully intimate Arts Club in Chelsea.
Introduced by the soprano and satirist Melinda Hughes ,here wearing so beautifully her hat as artistic director of the Sunday Night Concerts.
A beautiful new Steinway awaited tonight and little did I know that it had been chosen Alexander Ullman one of our stars from the Keyboard Charitable Trust.
In fact what Melinda did not know either is what a closely knit family we are as Adrian and Umberto too have been selected just recently to play for the Keyboard Chartiable Trust .
As with his recent Steinway Hall concert for the KCT he performed a piece written for him in 2015 by Elias Corrinth.
The opening Invocation is an echo to the opening poem of Scriabin’s 5th Sonata:”Je vous appelle a’lavie,o forces mysterieuses!”
A wonderful sense of colour and commitment kept this distinguished audience spellbound.
This was followed by a remarkable performance of the 13 Preludes op 32 by Rachmaninov .
Here are my thoughts from his performance of the same works just a few months ago at Steinway Hall in London,
No Rachmaninov Celebration could be complete without one of his famous transcriptions.
The concert opened with a virtuoso performance of the Suite from the Partita in E for violin by J.S.Bach.
It is a long time since I listened to a recording of Rachmaninov himself playing this together with his more well known transcriptions of works by Kreisler and Mendelssohn.
Even though transcriptions there is the unmistakable voice of Rachmaninov throughout.
Adrian Brendle gave a superbly rhythmic,virtuoso performance of the Prelude Gavotte and Gigue holding the audience’s complete attention right from the very first notes.
A short one hour concert followed by a sumptuous supper in the beautiful old world dining rooms of the Arts Club.
Hosted by Melinda Hughes who tells me that she too will be giving performances in London this week as an International Satirist with her “deliciously wicked political and social satire””so clever…every pun hit the mark”The Times.
She certainly has a lot of ammunition this week!