Ludovico Tronconetti at Roma Tre

“Ludo’s Folly “ Ludovico Tronconetti at Roma Tre

programme of Roma 3 concert
The young Sienese pianist Ludovico Troncanetti made his debut for the Young Artists Series at the Roma Tre University.
On a fine Schimmel in the magnificent Aula Magna of the University which is just one of the venues open to young artists by this enlightened university.
Teatro Palladium and the Teatro of Villa Torlonia are the other two venues the director of studies proudly informed me.A “Maurizio Baglini project” together with Roberto Prosseda from 13 to 16 December was the most recent event in Villa Torlonia (both former KCT artists)
Piero Rattalino one of the most eminent piano experts and author of an enormous quantity of learned tomes on piano and pianists presented the concert.

one of Piero Rattalino’s very interesting books with acknowledgements to Leslie Howard in the preface
Explaining in just a few words the origin of the scale and the difference between major and minor to introduce us to the subtle world of Schumann and in particular his Papillons op 2 that was the opening work in the programme.

Piero Rattalino presenting the works in todays programme
The other work of Schumann: Kinderszenen op 15 written ,as Rattalinio pointed,out with children in mind but by no means for children to play.
This Aula Magna a very prestigious venue in which Ludovico Troncanetti had been invited to perform.
He was born in Siena in 1991 where he received his early training and later graduated from the Conservatory “G,Verdi” in Milan.
Since 2009 he has been studying with Leslie Howard with whom since 2016 he has formed a piano duo that tours quite regularly in Italy.
In January 2018 they gave the first performance in Italy at the Teatro dei Rozzi in Siena of Rubinstein’s Fantasia op 73 for two pianos.
The four Sonatas for solo piano by Rubinstein are being recorded by Ludovico Troncanetti for issue on CD for Movimento Classical.
It was the first Sonata of Anton Rubinstein that Ludovico Troncanetti chose to offer as an encore after a rather conventional programme that obviously was what the University had requested.
This of course was the marvellous folly that I was referring to above.
A very professionally played Schumann in which his musicianship and sense of line were always to the fore.
A very fine sense of balance that allowed the melodic line to sing in a very pure and unimpeded way with some very subtle colouring.
A scintillating performance of the Mephisto Waltz n.2 was followed by a rather strange performance of the famous Hungarian Rhapsody n.2.
Announcing that this was his own arrangement and not the original that Professor Rattalino had described in his introduction.I must say I prefer the original version but it was good to see that Ludovico Troncanetti had put away his scores and was obviously warming up for what he had up his sleeve as an encore!

Introducing his encore
I had told Ludovico Troncanetti that of course the University quite rightly could chose a programme that would suit their needs but no one could then order an encore.
It was Serkin who famously played the Aria from the Goldberg Variations after a performance of the 5th Brandenburg Concerto ……….but over an hour later he was back to the Aria!
It has gone down in history of course.
Ludovico in true Sienese spirit announced a movement at a time …glancing at me as was noticed by one of the audience who at the after concert reception asked me if I was his father!
Not quite but I did meet my wife in Siena in 1978 and had spent many summers there with the great pianist and pedagogue Guido Agosti!

Curriculum from the programme
Here,at last, we were treated to the pianist who liberated from the score played with such mastery and ease.
His whole body movements although like his master Leslie Howard are never exaggerated, were totally in consonance with the music.
Great technical prowess but at the service of the music.
Noticeable in particular in the complex fourth movement where the left hand has some extraordinarily difficult passages that were played with a clarity and astonishing dexterity.

Ludivico Tronconetti on his third encore!
The slow movement was played with a subtle sense of rubato and such a rich and sumptuous palate of colours one wonders why the sonatas have been neglected for so long.
Only three of the four movements offered rather mischievously on this occasion make one wish to hear the whole sonata by this gifted young man.
I look forward to the imminent release of his new CD of the complete Sonatas.

The director of Roma 3 with Piero Rattalino and Ludovico Tronconetti

Vieni,vedi,vinci Martha Argerich in Rome

Vieni,vedi,vinci……….Martha Argerich brings her Christmas Carol to the Eternal City
“Music does not stand alone ,but is always with people.”
It is with the 20th anniversary concert in Rome that Martha Argerich,Antonio Pappano ,Mischa Maisky and friends showed us the true meaning of this phrase in celebration of the Meeting Point in Beppu in Japan.

Programme in Rome Parco della Music 16th December 2018
The MUSIC FESTIVAL Argerich’s Meeting Point in Beppu (Beppu Argerich Music Festival), under General Director Martha Argerich and General Producer Kyoko Ito, continues as the core event of the Argerich Arts Foundation, promoting the following three objectives:
“It is not only a sincere hope but also an obligation for us to create a society where children, the driving force of the 21st century, can grow up with rich spirits. An important aim of this Music Festival is to foster young people through music by providing children with opportunities to come in contact with high-quality music and by giving learning opportunities to young musicians.
We aim to create a “Meeting Point” where Martha Argerich and musicians from Asia, as well as from around the world, can join together to make this festival the core of music culture in the region by fostering young music lovers in Asia. We create a meeting point (Argerich’s Meeting Point) for people in Asia and around the world through classical music.The Beppu Argerich Music Festival aims to be a heartwarming “hand-made music festival” created together with the local people. Believing in the power of music, we will continue to create a richer social environment and send out unique music culture to the world from Oita Prefecture, and especially the hot spring resort of Beppu.”
And so it was at the end of a wonderful festive occasion that our host at the Parco della Musica, Sir Antonio Pappano or Tony as he is affectionately known stepped forward from his fellow colleagues to share some words of wisdom with “his” Rome public.

Sir Antonio Pappano trying to explain in words what we had all experienced in the joyous musical celebration party
Reminding us of the remarkable activity that for twenty years Martha Argerich has created to bring music to the people.
With such modesty and self sacrifice,just as the missionaries had done 460 years ago.
She has been continuing this tradition of bringing classical music to the young.
Reminding us too that he had been three times to make and share music with them – the first time before his hair had not yet changed colour!

Never forgetting anyone
It was evident too that Martha, the undoubted star that she has become,is one of a group of musicians that with complete dedication bring their music to the people.
Even looking over her shoulder to make sure that she was never alone on the stage and waiting at the end to thank all her wonderful colleagues and also the public that had filled every seat behind the stage too

Renzo Piano’s magnificent Sala S.Cecilia at the Parco della Musica in Rome
And so it was an evening of music making amongst friends.
From the opening with a sonata for two violins by Leclair.
And what violins!
Two Stradivari one of which the famous “Lady Tennant”of 1699.
In the hands of Kyoko Takezawa it immediately became part of her body moving with cat like attention as she followed her colleague Yasushi Toyoshima.

Kyoko Takezawa and Yasushi Toyoshima
The same total partecipation that we have noted so well with Julia Fischer many times in the same hall.
The Allegro and Presto played with such character and rhythmic energy and the sublime Andante grazioso on two such superb Stradivari could only have been of the composers dreams.
Violins in fact that Leclair might well have known as they were made during his lifetime (1697-1764)

Martha Argerich and Mischa Maisky alone on the vast stage
The appearance of Martha Argerich and Mischa Maisky created even more magic.
And it was magical indeed their performance of the Fantasiestucke by Schumann.
Having played many time together Mischa Maisky was always at the ready for the impetuosity of his partner.
Martha Argerich was ready too to catch every star that was thrown in her direction from the most fantasioso of cellists.
Two great personalities recreating Schumann’s sublime romantic utterances.
A sense of elasticity in the melodic line that was so perfectly matched by each of the players.
A true lesson of how much heard masterpieces can sound new and freshly recreated in the hands of great artists.

Friends enjoying every minute as much as the audience
Some wonderfully subtle interweaving and the sudden appearance of a deep bass note thrown into the arena from the piano at just the right moment was indeed breathtaking.
The last “Rasch,mit Feuer” was like a red rag to the bull and Martha launched into it knowing that her partner would always be ready for her scintillating temperament.
There followed the Shostakovich Sonata for cello and piano.
Written in 1934 it is both lyrical with tempestuous outbursts that at 28 had already become part of the personality that we came to know under the repression of the regime.
Infact the sonata op 40 was written just prior to the censure by the Soviet authorities with his opera Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk that was considered too bougeois and decadent.
He had also fallen in love with a young student.
So there is a great mixture of feelings in his only cello sonata written for his great friend Viktor Kubatsky
The opening arpeggios appeared so magically on the piano and was matched by the sublime melody on the cello.
A wonderfully soulful Largo where the piano provided a dark backdrop to the cello’s rhapsodic vocal theme.
The final Allegro played with an infectious rythmic energy erupting into a tumultuous cadenza on the piano that was thrown off with all the scintillating prowess for which our “tiger of the keys” is renowned.
Mischa Maisky even more fantasioso than Martha in this work and it was she who tried to keep an even keel and sense of architectural shape that Mischa Maisky with all his passion and temperament was in danger of loosing.

Yasushi Toyoshima Kyoko Takezawa Raffaele Mallozzi Diego Romano
After the interval a real celebration of this happy event with Happy Birthday variations for string quartet by Peter Heidrich.
The cat like Yasushi was here matched by the even more attentive cellist Diego Romano.
It was a real lesson to watch his expression as he was so attentive and ready to adapt to every subtle sense of subtle shaping from his colleagues.

Carnival of the Animals
The scene was now set for the main work of the evening that saw Sir Antonio Pappano united with Martha Argerich and members of the S.Cecilia Orchestra as they were on their recently recorded performance for Warner Classics.
Joined by our two Japanese friends whose impersonation of the characters with long ears brought the house down in this Zoological Fantasy .
A work which Saint Saens had such fun writing he even put aside his third symphony (Organ Symphony with which this work is coupled in the Warner CD ).
Written in 1886 and performed in many private households including that of Pauline Viardot in the presence of Franz Liszt who had asked to hear it.
Saint Saens did not allow it to be published in his lifetime though as he thought it would detract from his “ serious” compositions!
It was published in 1922 a year after his death.
Each of the eleven “animals” has a chance to shine.
The superb double bass of Antonio Sciancalepore as the elephant or the magnificent birds that Andrea Oliva allowed to ring around this vast auditiorium with such artistry as displayed also in the most beautiful of aquariums.
The obstinate call of the cuckoo in the depths of the woods so amusingly impersonated by the clarinet of Stefano Novelli.
The pianistic gymnastics of the two Kangeroos gave us no idea of the extreme difficulty that two beginners were struggling with in the “pianist.”
The pianistic gymnastics in the Finale showed us just what virtuosity is.
Martha bounding up and down the keyboard with “Tony” very close on her heels!
The fossils as impersonated by the percussionists Edoardo Giachino and Andrea Santarsiere  where the xylophone evoked the image of skeletons playing card games- their bones clacking together on the beat!
In the scintillating finale we are given a short taste of each “ animal” .But not before the sublime beauty of the best known of the animals-the swan.
Allowed to glide so magically in the hands of Mischa Maisky with the gentle water so beautifully evoked by our two  master pianists.

Pappano with Martha a quick word before the encore
An ovation from a packed auditorium and a quick word together and the repeat of the Finale where all the animals were allowed to shine once more before the backstage celebrations for this unique event

friends Martha and Mischa

The company

There can be no party without a cake-(foto thanks to Andrea Oliva)
Another Carnival by two young pianists in Manchester recently for the Keyboard Charitable Trust of which Sir Antony Pappano is honorary patron

The Essential Keyboard Trust

 

The Essential Keyboard Trust

Published by AllAboutPiano On 9 March 2018

 

Since its formation in 1991, the Keyboard Trust has helped to launch more than 250 young pianists, organists and players of historic instruments. Founder, John Leech MBE, looks back on the charity’s evolution and celebrates its coming of age.

‘We must make music together!’ The great Maestro beamed at the young Italian virtuoso who had just delivered an impressive recital for the Keyboard Trust at New York’s Steinway Hall. As good as his word, barely two years later, Alessandro Taverna did indeed perform with Lorin Maazel and his Munich Philharmonic Orchestra, first at the Gasteig, then in the Musikverein in Vienna.

Not all the Keyboard Trust’s exhibitions of major young talent achieve their objective in one simple move. But all are based on a quarter of a century of building partnerships with venues in the major music centres of the countries of primary importance to musical development. Over time, this has allowed the Trust to map out an intensive international career development plan for those it selects.

Alessandro Taverna

‘Discovered’ originally by Duilio Martinis, a piano enthusiast who created the AlaPiano project outside Verona, Alessandro Taverna had already received all-important opportunities for performing in public alongside a growing success in international competitions. His career inside Italy thrived – he was eventually invited to play for the President of the Republic at the Quirinale in Rome – but, like many others elsewhere, had lacked the opportunity to gain international recognition. The Keyboard Trust was able to offer him not only performances in the UK but also its tour path in Germany, from Hamburg to Berlin, Frankfurt and Munich and other venues besides; and then the Trust’s US tour which brought him before Lorin Maazel. His swansong for the Trust, on reaching the age of 30 and about to play in the Leeds International Competition, was the 2012 Keyboard Trust Prizewinners Concert at Wigmore Hall.

Selecting those who should benefit from the Trust’s intensive but short-term support is no easy task. The American composer, Ernst Bacon, once expressed the problem: ‘There are today so many good musicians that it is becoming increasingly hard to find a great artist. We are all able to recognise one when we hear one… but the artist has first to have a platform to make himself heard.’

Alessio Bax © Lisa-Marie Mazzucco

That is what the Keyboard Trust exists to provide, not once but on an international circuit of now some 50 platforms in Europe and the Americas. Here, they can gather renown and begin to enlist a loyal following while making the vital transition from formal education into a fully professional life. Most important of all, they are invited back and their career can develop independently of the Keyboard Trust. Hardly one of these presentation concerts goes by without the offer of some form of benefit that will secure their future. Shining examples of that go from Paul Lewis – almost the first ever to play for the Trust – to those like George Lazaridis and Alessio Bax who have become major figures in their own or adopted countries. There have been public successes like the Brazilian, Pablo Rossi, whose 12 Keyboard Trust recitals within a few months produced six recalls and seven further concerts offered to the Trust; and Stefano Greco, the Bach scholar, who played in Florence and was promptly invited to tour all the campuses of the University of California. And then today’s greatest developing talents to watch, Mariam Batsashvili and Vitaly Pisarenko, both now already famous for their victories in the Utrecht Liszt Competition, and the Alkan and Thalberg authority, Mark Viner, who performed in the annual Keyboard Trust Prizewinners concert at Wigmore Hall on 2 March 2018.

Mark Viner

… and its Evolution

It all began as a birthday tribute to Noretta Conci-Leech, a former student of Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli, who began her married life in London grooming young concert pianists and helping to prepare their careers. Conceived as a concert by some of her best, it would also give them the chance to shine in public. The three Model D Steinways on the platform would accommodate the seven artists headed by Leslie Howard; but what of all the others out there, perhaps equally gifted and deserving? Even as a diplomat with a self-evident talent, how do you get onto a concert platform to build up a public? And if doing the circuit of music societies and prize concerts begins to establish your name, how do you make it known to the world outside? What was needed was an organisation that offered a wide range of international appearances, coupled with the funds to get to them.

By the time of the birthday concert, Claudio Abbado had agreed to head a body of Trustees, which enabled Alfred Brendel to announce the creation of The Keyboard Charitable Trust for Young Professional Performers. Two years later, it had its christening at the Royal Festival Hall when Abbado, Evgeny Kissin and the then European Community Youth Orchestra (now European Union Youth Orchestra), with Assistant Conductor, Mark Wigglesworth, provided it with the silver spoon. This also allowed it to register a respectable identity with the Charity Commission. Steinway & Sons offered the hospitality of their Hall and its glorious instruments; that privilege later spread to Steinway Halls in Berlin, Munich and now Cologne, New York and, at one time, even into the Hamburg Factory itself.

Vitaly Pisarenko © Andreea Tufescu

Audiences, too, were built on the founders’ widely assorted circles of friends, colleagues and relations, then began to multiply with theirs. Such generosity has regularly filled the Bechstein Hall in Frankfurt and elsewhere in Germany. In New York, daughter, Caroline, and other good friends have presided over an active concert calendar and its progressive extension to Florida, Delaware, Pennsylvania and the Maazels’ Festival Theatre in Virginia. An association with the Italian body for cultural co-operation allowed some of the Trust’s Italian artists to appear in five major Latin American countries under their auspices. Friends of friends have propagated the Trust in culturally rich countries such as Cyprus and Mexico.

Partnerships – the sharing of costs and responsibilities – brought artists to perform in splendid venues such as Brahms’ Laeiszhalle in Hamburg, the Sala Maffeiana in Verona (home of Europe’s oldest concert society, where Mozart delighted the guests in his time), the Teatro Ghione a stone’s throw from St Peter’s in Rome and the Brazilian Embassies there and in London’s Trafalgar Square. And since 2009, with generous support from its German Trustee, Moritz von Bredow, the Trust has been able to hold its annual Prizewinners Concert before enthusiastic London audiences in the Wigmore Hall. From these, the most prestigious concert halls, to other locations where classical music is rarely heard but all the more avidly appreciated, the Trust has steadily pursued its mission to develop new performing opportunities and new audiences. Never more so perhaps than when the same benefactor took Keyboard Trust artists to appear in two concerts in Ankara and one in Baghdad.

The New Era

2013 saw the end of the Trust’s long formative era with the semi-retirement of its Founders. It had finally come of age with the appointment of Nicola Bulgari as Honorary President, the Chairmanship passing to its Hon. Solicitor, Geoffrey Shindler, and  – most importantly – the installation of the immensely able General Manager, Sarah Biggs. At the same time, a body of three Artistic Directors was nominated to share the greatly enlarged load of appraisal previously carried by Noretta Conci-Leech.

Following the sad loss of Claudio Abbado in 2014, Sir Antonio Pappano was invited to become the Trust’s Patron; his acceptance now preserves its important orchestral links at the highest level. And finally, Evgeny Kissin agreed to join the Trustees, thus bringing his involvement with the Trust full circle from the original 1993 benefit concert.

Antonio Pappano © Musacchio & Ianniello

Thanks to the new Chairman’s involvement with the Manchester Camerata, a justly famous chamber orchestra, it has been possible to open an important new dimension for the Trust’s artists, giving them a first experience on the road towards playing with a full orchestra. Now in their second season, these collaborations between Camerata principals and Trust pianists have themselves opened up non-traditional venues in and around Manchester, drawing in new audiences.

Of equal significance has been the development of the Trust’s association with players of baroque music and historic instruments. Dr Elena Vorotko, a period specialist Honorary Fellow at the Royal Academy of Music, has used her position as a Trustee to build a wing for the Trust which sends artists to perform on the famous instrument collections at Hatchlands, Handel & Hendrix in London and Finchcocks and at St Cecilia’s as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. This represents a signal contribution to a sector which is under even greater pressure today than classical music itself and has met with considerable appreciation.

In all these ways, since its formation in 1991, the Keyboard Trust has helped to launch more than 250 young pianists, organists and players of historic instruments on an international career. Each year, as the Trust itself continues to widen its reach, it is able to take on up to ten new artists in these disciplines and present its new intake at over 50 concerts in 14 principal countries. In reality, it has become a formidable launch pad for those of Ernst Bacon’s ‘great artists’ on whom the future of classical music will depend to bring in the audiences of tomorrow.

Header photo: Mariam Batsashvili

The Keyboard Trust: www.keyboardtrust.org

About the author

John Leech is the Founder and former Chairman of the Keyboard Charitable Trust for Young Professional Performers. He has served on the Advisory Committee of the London Symphony Orchestra and has written on musical, international development and security subjects.

Ilya Kondratiev in Germany

A most impressive tour of six recitals, played by Russian pianist Ilya Kondratiev, has sadly come to an end. I would have loved to hear 6 or 60 more! This will be a long review, very

much deserved so by a unique pianist.

 

His programme comprised

Schubert – Four impromptus op. 90 (1827), 

Chopin – Polonaise in A Flat op. 53 (1842), Liszt – Fantasy and Fugue on B-A-C-H (1871),   

Liszt – Sonata in B Minor (1852/53).

Ilya Kondratiev is indeed one of those pianists that should be in the limelight of worldwide attention – a masterful, profound  musician who to me certainly is one of the best Keyboard Trust pianists I have met. He played at venues in Berlin (Representation of the City of Hamburg, with support by Steinway & Sons, Berlin), Hamburg (Bechstein Centre for the first time, New Living Home and Steinway & Sons), Munich (Steinway & Sons), and Frankfurt (Bechstein Centre).

 

All six programmes that Ilya played were at highest level, one after the other, and I do indeed have the impression that with Ilya Kondratiev,  the tradition of the grand art of piano playing is being continued, if not revived in the most noble way, in a long-awaited way, in an astonishing and overwhelming way. He is far from being a superficial poser, far from being a showman or a vain actor who happens to play the piano, as so very many young ‘pianists’ nowadays are. Ilya Kondratiev’s appearance on stage is noble, elegant and modest, yet an aura surrounds him immediately, and the halls became silent in awe from the beginning to the end, wherever he performed.

Ilya Kondatiev chose to open his intelligently and beautifully chosen recital with the certainly too rarely played Four Impromptus op. 90 by Franz Schubert, composed in 1827 at the age of 30, the year before Schubert died. The opening Impromptu in C Minor, Allegro molto moderato, which Ilya views and interprets as a funeral march, was played in a somber mood, melancholically throughout, yet never losing tension or rhythm. In Hamburg’s Steinway Hall, a gentleman from New Zealand, a music- and piano teacher himself, later told me that he was crying right from the beginning. The funeral march resounded under Ilya’s hands like an apodictic epitaph, moving forward with determination, beautiful in sound and moving everyone in the hall. Ilya adhered very closely to the music, giving special attention to the non-legato rhythm which deepend the impression even more. He then transformed the modulation to the Major key into a promise of salvation, an incredible, magic momentary illumination during this first impromptu, before bringing it to a silent ending. What a beginning!

 

Impromptu op. 90 No. 2 in E Flat, Allegro, was an example of Ilya Kondratiev’s immaculate Jeu perlé, the joyful triplets of the right hand executed by him in absolute clarity, with scarce use of the right and absolutely no left pedal, and with excellently sustained left hand – thus leading to an exciting, dancing and rhythmically even flow of music, that all of a sudden gave way for the dramatic, rhythmically unstoppable modulation into B Minor, ben marcato. Schubert’s sadness and mourning, seemingly a relentless invocation, were powerfully performed by Ilya Kondratiev who allowed space for breathtaking increases in drama and tension before turning this phrase into a pianissimo prayer, finally returning subtly to Schubert’s seemingly joyful triplets. However, these were not to last, there is indeed no redemption, no salvation, and Schubert cannot evade the B Minor darkness any more – with dazzling accelerando through Schubert’s haunting modulations, Ilya Kondratiev brought this Impromptu to its uncompromising end in E Flat Minor. I rarely heard greater silence in a concert hall than at the very moment after Ilya Kondratiev had ended – what a Schubert player! What control, what rhythm, what a multitude of colours and dynamics!

 

Impromptu op. 90 no. 3, in G Flat Major, Andanteis an elegy that enabled Ilya Kondratiev to use his perfect finger legato, allowing him in the accompanying triplets under the steady flow of enchanting melodic lines to form a rhythmically firm ground, crystal clear and yet mellow in musical language.  Again, Schubert’s modulations into Minor keys bring in a dark atmosphere, hauntingly beautifully interpreted by Ilya Kondratiev, but this time, the Impromptu has its inherent salvation, and the ending in G Flat is at least for now reconciling, under Ilya’s hands a lasting one.

 

Impromptu op. 90 No 4 in A Flat, Allegrettoanother one of Schubert’s late masterpieces, brought out all of Ilya Kondratiev’s virtuosity (which he never uses for superficial shine), inseparably linked to his highly developed taste for tonal quality, musical development and inner structures of the work. The cascades of semiquavers, in downward movements dropping over a strict and immaculately executed ¾ rhythm, are leading toward a Trio in C Sharp Minor – and there it is again: Schubert’s melancholic vision of our inescapable unhappiness, of his own early death lurking behind his illness. This last of the Four Impromptus concludes majestically in A Flat, a somewhat last demonstration of strength and determination against all foreseeable destiny. Ilya Kondratiev understands all this to the deepest, he understands Schubert, his life, his adversity. Ilya Kondratiev understands – and this makes him such a compelling, convincing pianist and musician.

 

Next in Ilya Kondratiev’s programme came Chopin’s Polonaise in A Flat, op. 53, which Chopin wrote in 1842, at the age of 32. Ilya Kondratiev started the introduction in E Flat, set by Chopin as Maestoso. There was absolutely convincing expression in Ilya’s approach, which was not only achieved by his exquisit tonal quality and sublime phrasing, but also -again!- through a strict adherence to rhythm right from the beginning – a rarely realised aspect of interpreting Chopin’s music, as some of Chopin’s pupils have stated (I am

quoting  the following passage from

http://musicofyesterday.com/history/chopin-tempo-rubato/)

 

Carl Mikuli, one of his pupils, categorically asserts that in the matter of time Chopin was inexorable. “It will surprise many to learn that with him the metronome did not come off the piano,” Mikuli adds. Mme. Friedericke Streicher, another pupil, tells us that “he required adherence to the strictest rhythm, hated all lingering and lagging and misplaced rubatos, as well as exaggerated ritardandos.” George A. Osborne, who resided near him in Paris, and heard him  play many of his compositions while still in manuscript, has left it on record that “the great steadiness of his accompaniment, whether with the right or left hand, was truly remarkable.” 

 

This was one of the many strong qualities of Ilya Kondratiev’s interpretation – his rhythm! Not talking about is beautiful and majestic sound and Chopinesque expression – perhaps the most ideal interpretation I have ever heard, because Ilya Kondratiev was avoiding all kitsch, all sweetly sugar coating that many pianists try to use in order to make this beautiful music sound more “romantic”. The rapid, rotating octaves in the middle part in E Major, swirling round in the left hand, were simply breathtaking, never destroying the delicacy of the melody played by Ilya Kondratiev’s right hand. The return to the main theme then was marked towards the end by a triumphant, truly heroic and never exaggerated tonal language that brought the audience to frenetic and roaring applause. They did not know what was to come.

 

For the opening of the second half, Ilya Kondratiev had chosen Franz Liszt’s Fantasy and Fugue on 

B-A-C-H, S.529, originally composed in two versions for organ (S.260/1 and S.260/2) in 1855/56 (as Prelude and Fugue on B-A-C-H for the consecration of the organ of the Dome in Merseburg) and 1870 resp., and transcribed for the piano by Liszt himself in 1871, when he was almost 60 years old. A gigantic homage to Johann Sebastian Bach, Ilya Kondratiev clearly evoked the reverberating sound of a large, romantic church organ right from the beginning. The constant presence of the

B-A-C-H (sounding: B Flat – A – C – B) theme in complex chromatic and polyphonic structures lead up to the Fugue. Massive chords, always orchestral and never hard or beaten, resounded the theme afterwards, before a sudden turn brought up a difficult passage of glittering scales and mystic tonal flakes which took this glorious piece to an end under Ilya Kondratiev’s glorious hands. Many composers (amongst others,  R. Schumann in ‘Scenes from Childhood’, F. Chopin in his Etude in C Minor op. 25 no. 12, and J. Brahms in his motet ‘Warum ist das Licht gegeben den Mühseligen?’) have paid homage to J. S. Bach by using the B-A-C-H theme, but no one has ever laid out a tribute as tremendous in sound and musical architecture as Franz Liszt has here. Ilya Kondratiev fully lived up to the gigantic challenges here, bowing only briefly to thunderous applause – what was to follow is almost beyond words:

 

Franz Liszt completed his Sonata in B Minor, S.178, at the age of 41 in 1853, the year which also saw the founding of the piano companies C. Bechstein in Berlin as well as Steinway & Sons in New York – a beautiful coincidence as Ilya played only wonderful Bechstein and Steinway pianos during this tour! Liszt dedicated his sonata to Robert Schumann (who had, in 1839,  dedicated his Fantasie in C Major, op. 17, to Franz Liszt).

 

Ilya Kondratiev played this sonata, one of the most difficult pieces of the piano literature, with an allusion to Goethe’s ‘Faust’, as he explained in Munich, where Mephistopheles and Gretchen appear in musical allegories, expressed in thematic phrasings, and with this explanation, understanding this extremely complex work became more transparent.

 

Ilya immersed himself into the music as a servant to Liszt’s compositorial and pianistic  audacity and presented the listeners with an unforgettable encounter of a clearly concentrated, highly musical and deeply intellectual performance that left anybody in all six halls breath- and speechless. It is not possible for me to go through the entire sonata, or even attempt to analyse it. What matters is Ilya Kondratiev’s view, his approach, and his performance. He mastered every pianistic nuance of the chilling challenges with obvious ease. It was impossible to divert one’s attention from the diabolical colours and chasing raptures as well as from the elegiac, inward moments of pensive beauty that Ilya realised at all times. The fugue, yet another homage to Johann Sebastian Bach, was then leading to even more darkening moments, before heavenly tranquility in Major surrounded each and everybody in the hall at the end. The final  ‘B’ in the bass, standing alone as a single note, reminded us of the beginning, and everybody’s sensation was that it seemed imminent to hear Liszt’s sonata again, such was the tension.

 

The precision of Ilya Kondratiev’s fingering and his enormously winning use of both pedals, combined with his technical skills and omnipresent control of sound and dynamics allowed to hear a translucency of inner structure that is rarely present in concert halls where Liszt’s sonata is played.

 

Ilya concluded his recital with beautifully chosen encores: Schubert’s ‘Gretchen am

Spinnrad’, again after Goethe’s Faust, in Liszt’s piano transcription – ideally bringing together the two major composers of the evening, and a beautifully crisp piano sonata by Domenico Scarlatti. He can do all of this!! At the end of the evening, Ilya Kondratiev still seemed indefatigable despite the huge programme he had played twice on three subsequent nights within a fortnight.

 

What a great musician, what a wonderful pianist and what a modest, educated person Ilya Kondratiev is! He reminded me of Wilhelm Kempff and Edwin Fischer in his Schubert, of Arthur Rubinstein and Alfred Cortot in his Chopin, of Lazar Berman and, yes, Leslie Howard in his Liszt! Ilya clearly gives major credit to The Keyboard Trust and shows very amazingly on what level of supporting pianists we are working. BRAVISSIMO, ILYA!!

 

His performances were astounding, and I would like to emphasise my strongest recommendation that Ilya Kondratiev, amongst other options,

 

– be sent to play at our most prestigious venues in the US, notably Lorin Maazel’s estate

 

– be considered for our next available ‘Prizewinners’ Recital’, formerly (and hopefully also in the future??) held at Wigmore Hall.

 

– receive further KT support as available

 

It is thanks to Sibylle and Patrick Rabut that through their meticulous and enthusiastic organisation, the Bechstein Centre in Frankfurt was once more completely sold out. MANY THANKS, dearest Sibylle and Patrick, also for a very generous dinner invitation to your home afterwards.

 

For the first time ever, I had the pleasure of organising a recital at Hamburg’s Bechstein Centre – a most wonderful, friendly and warm welcome by its director, Mr Axel Kemper, who presented us with a completely sold out hall (65 seats so far, but refurbishment and thus enlargement is on its way!). MANY THANKS to Mr Kemper for opening up another beautiful venue to the Keyboard Trust!

 

Sadly, the new management at Steinway Hall in Munich (new director: Mr Joe Plakinger), had failed completely to do anything for this recital apart from uploading it to their store website 2 weeks before the recital and to their Facebook site about 5 days before the recital. We always used to have between 70-100 people there. Mr Plakinger, in an email addressed to me, had actively refused to send out any newsletter for this recital, and so we were left with an audience of 4 people (!!), three of them friends of mine, one a gentleman who happened to play at one of the Steinway pianos, and I had notified him about the upcoming recital that evening. Mr Plakinger himself was not present that night, but the two staff, a Mrs Pütz and a Mrs Li, were the most unwelcoming, unhelpful, disrespectful and disinterested people I had ever met at any venue. At this moment, I will only contact Steinway Munich again if I can be sure if their active and happy support. I will also have to have a word with one of the senior directors in Hamburg.

 

But this is a small aspect to an incredible tour that Ilya Kondratiev has completed with greatest artistic merits.

 

With love and best wishes to all of you,

 

 

Moritz

 

 

——————————————–

 

 

Dr. Moritz v. Bredow

Trustee, The Keyboard Charitable Trust

– Internationale Klavierstiftung –

Schirmherr: Sir Antonio Pappano

www.keyboardtrust.org

The Sublime Perfection of Mitsuko Uchida

The sublime perfection of Mitsuko Uchida
Mitsuko Uchida at the RFH Schubert A minor D.537,C major D.840 ( Reliquie),Bflat D.960
The pinnacle of pianistic perfection……..sublime is the only word that could someway describe what we experienced together tonight.
Her unbelievable control of sound held us all mesmerised from the first to the last by the sublime poetry that was unfolded with such simplicity before us.
The B flat Sonata development reached points of beauty that have rarely if ever been heard in this hall.
Pianissimi that only Richter had attempted in this hall in Beethoven op 22 but that failed to project and had one critic saying it was inexistent.
Richter certainly was never that, but he was watching from afar with his geniale sense of structure and total dedication to the composers wishes that even negated his own personal engagement.
The luminosity of Mitsuko Uchida was not for him.
His message was written in stone ….Mitsuko’s on sand.
One immediately more human and of this earth rather than the abstract perfection of pure genius.
Mitsuko Uchida was more involved as she entered the very core of the B flat sonata with vibrancy,reverance but above all with a supreme sense that every moment was a magic discovery that could only be savoured and never repeated.
The first movement of the C major Sonata already showed us that this was a very special evening with the melodic line so perfectly legato but the accompaniment almost staccato and perfectly phrased……
The same with the A minor ( a sonata that Michelangeli made his own) where the melody is the same as the great A major last movement and was played so delicately and cantabile but with a perfectly clear accompaniment almost without pedal.

students on stage cheering after a sublime B flat Sonata
How she did it ….I can only say that miracles can occur and they certainly did tonight.
I had thought that the perfection of Zimerman’s memorable B flat Sonata would never be reached again.
But here even in the last movement with that single bell like note that interrupts the flow Mitsuko Uchidas interpretation was even more magical tonight.
It had the entire audience on their feet cheering and a rather bewildered Mitsuko who was left on stage knowing that it was Schubert himself who had been with us tonight she was just his faithful servant …………
I can ony repeat what I wrote last november when she had almost reached the same heights with the G major Sonata ………

a spontaeous standing ovation at tyhe end of her recital

a humble servant serving her beloved Schubert so well

World Premiere of Thibault Charrin’sviolin sonata

 

 

Wonderful to see Canan Maxton giving a chance to young composers to have their works heard in her series for Talent Unlimited Music Charity at St James’s Piccadilly in the centre of London.
Fresh on the heels of her Christmas Showcase recital she is here in the same week to give a chance to another very talented pianist composer Thibault Charrin.
Infact the versatility of her artists was demostrated as it was Thibault who produced together with Petar Dimov the video/audio recording that is so important for promotion of the showcase concert.

Petar Dimov alone in the organ loft today
Today it was left to Petar Dimov to be alone in the organ
loft to record his friend and colleague.
Thibault Charrin was born in France and received his early education at the Conservatoire of Saint Germain-en-Laye and with Tristan Pfaff in Paris.
Winning a scholarship to the Guildhall he came to London at 18 to complete his piano studies with Caroline Palmer and Philip Jenkins.
But he is a composer at heart as we could hear today.
The public in Cambridge in March were made aware of his versatility when he performed the Poulenc Two Piano Concerto and then went on to play his own two piano transcription of the Golliwogs Cake Walk to celebrate the centenary anniversary of Debussy.
Weeks of discussions and trying out different possibilities preceded the definitive performance that we heard today at St James’s.

Supper and discussion about Thibault’s new work with Petar Dimov and Busoni winner in town for concerts Ivan Krpan
The violinist for whom it was written was called up for Turkish military service and it was the very fine violinist Enyuan Khong who stood in at very short notice.

Dimov discusses the placing of the score with Enyuan
A three movement sonata with the same very tranquil atmosphere that Ravel created at the start of his sonata.
Some very original things in Thibault’s sonata but always maintaining that very french aristocratic sound .The Finale of the Anime- tres vif in which Enyuan’s violin was allowed to soar into the rafters of this magnificent church brought this short piece to a magnificent ending .

Thibault Charrin with Enyuan Khong
The composer at the keyboard playing without the score creating a magnificent duo with his partner.
As with all contemporary music it would be good to hear the piece again and on this occassion it occurred to me that this 15 minute work could easily have opened and closed the concert and would have given us a chance to appreciate this beautiful piece even more.
The De Falla Suite populaire espagnole for violin and piano was the ideal companion for the sonata that was to close the programme.
Played again by Thibault without the score it was a very fine performance that could have had even more projection and energy that was obviously being saved for the premiere performance that followed.

Thibault Charrin Aida Lahiou Enyuan Khong
The concert had opened with the pianist Aida Lahiou born in Casablanca and now an undergraduate at Cambridge where she continues her piano studies with Caroline Palmer too.
Having received her early training from an old friend Marcel Baudet at the Menuhin School (we were on the jury of Monza together and he is artistic director of the YPF Piano Competition).
Small world!
She too gave the London premiere of a fellow compatriot Nabil Benagdeljalil(b,1972).A fascinating piece “Frisson”Nocturne of 2015 in C minor like the proposed Chopin Nocturne it happily and unexpectedly substituted.
A very interesting piece with an unmistakably Morrocan sound played so convincingly by Aida.
This minuscle pianist went on to give a very big performance of Liszt Ballade n.2 in B minor.Some very beautiful things.
It was played with an intelligence that held this episodic piece together giving it shape and style without any rhetoric.
Hampered only by a small hand it was a very successful performance from someone who feels the music so well.
It is Christmas and this concert from Talent Unlimited Music Charity gave us food for thought and hope indeed.

A shop in Saville Row

For my wife in her favourite church on the 13th anniversary of her death

What style at St James’s

Christmas is certainly here

Enyuan Khong and Thibault Charrin

The Price of Genius Jean-Selim Abdelmoula at the Wigmore Hall

The Price of Genius…… Jean-Selim Abdelmoula at theWigmore Hall
Hats off to YCAT – Young Classical Artists Trust.
A charitable trust founded in the UK in 1984 that builds the career of emerging artists that are selected by rigorous final public auditions.
Daniel Lebhardt ,Michael Petrov and Alexander Ullman are just three of the recent artists to have been launched successfully.
Daniel Lebhardt and Michael Petrov being signed up by major agents and Alexander Ullman going on to win the Utrecht Liszt Competition which has opened up a worldwide career for him.

Thomas Ades
But there are those artists that do no fit easily into the convenient package of pianist,cellist,conductor etc.
They are the genial figures of musicians who happen to play an instrument supremely well but their minds are elsewhere in the world of creating music…..their own music.
Thomas Ades is a prime example today as was Benjamin Britten of course.
There are less well known musicians that have appeared on the scene and been taken under the wing by great musicians who can understand and learn from these remarkable naturally gifted musicians and want to help them in their struggle to express themselves and to find their own musical language.

Olli Mustonen
I remember a few years ago Olli Mustonen being taken under the wing of Vladimir Ashkenazy.
Gianluca Cascioli with Luciano Berio.
And now I have seen the same fascination that Andras Schiff has with Jean-Selim Abdelmoula.

Gianluca Cascioli
And so it was with great courage that YCAT seemingly allowed Jean-Selim free range to make up a programme that in itself would show all the propective organisers present exactly who he was and what he could do.
Which is exactly what he did today to an enraptured audience that sat in total silence completely absorbed by the genial sound world in which this young man lives and has a need to share with others.

Jean – Selim Abdelmoula at the Wigmore Hall today
Searching in vain in the programme to understand his age and where he was born and spent his formative years.
Is he from a musical family and who had been his mentors from an early formative age?
Essential information if one is to understand how such a talent is born and nurtured until the moment he appears on a major London stage.
Instead we get very general information all wrapped up as they are fond of saying at Kings Place in a beautifully produced product but woefully empty.
Marketing and packaging need only to know where they are playing and with whom.
It is a pity that this information is not readily available in a programme that should be there to inform especially on an occasion such as this important presentation.
A concert that has been conceived as a whole with a beginning piece that is then completed at the end after a long journey in a magic world of sound.
This is Jean- Selim’s sound world and his trailer of A Piece(2017) that started this journey and A Piece (2018) that finished it displayed to the full sounds that could range like the running of water,broken glass or the very precise detached sounds that contrasted so well.
Occasional full climaxes but always well judged and never percussive drawing the audience in to listen to and savour the variety of sounds that were being produced on this black box full of strings and hammers !
Sounds that linked up so perfectly with the Berg extraordinary one movement sonata op.1.
As Glenn Gould exclaimed on first hearing it :”the most auspicious Opus One ever written!”
The Sonata was written probably in 1909 and first performed in Vienna in 1911 .A time when Berg was having lessons in harmony and counterpoint from from Arnold Schoenberg.
It would have been very interesting to know from Jean-Selim in the programme what is meant by the second edition of 1926!
This extremely complex one movement sonata was played with great authority and any little blemishes on the way were of no importance to us or the performer in a performance of such stature.
A little piece by Kurtag from his “Games” entitled Hommage a Schubert was an ideal prelude into the world of Schubert.
The six moments musicaux by Schubert inhabited the same sound world where the audience was once again drawn in to listen to the most ravishing sounds.
An amazing sense of balance that was more the very special sound world of a Radu Lupu than a Curzon or Brendel.
The different layers of sound were quite remarkably revealed in the first moderato in C major.
The bell like sounds pure magic.
The charm of the Allegro Moderato was as memorable as Curzon.
Leading into the beautifully shaped Bachian Moderato in C sharp minor.
The outburst of the Allegro vivace in F minor was restrained and perfectly belonged to this almost whispered sound world of Jean- Selim.
The final sad return of the melody in the Alegretto in A flat was quite magical.
An ovation from an audience that had been listening in rapt silence throughout this hour long journey were rewarded with another hearing of the evocative piece by this quite remarkably original musician.
Judging from the reaction of the audience I think that the battle of recognition and acceptance of such an original talent is already well on the way to being won by the many organisers that were gathered today to listen.