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.
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.
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.
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.
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.