Artur Haftman at St Mary’s

Artur Haftman at St Mary’s
Yet another surprise to be able to be in two places at the same time and at last able to hear this young musician again.
I was overwhelmed by his recital in 2016 at St James’s Piccadilly in his very first year of studies in London with Dmitri Alexeev at the R.C.M.
As you can see from my notes above some extraordinary playing with a lunchtime public that did not want to let him go and infact it was almost teatime when we were asked to leave!

CD for the 100th Anniversary of the Indepedence of Poland
Now with a CD in hand and in his final year of Masters Degree from the RCM I was very interested to hear his playing three years on.
Chopin’s Polonaises were described as “canons covered in flowers.”
His studies could also be similarly described.
In the right hands we should not be aware that they were written with technical problems in mind. These are indeed hidden behind such poetry and passion that only the performer should know the hurdles that need be surmounted.
You can see what I mean in more detail from my notes on another young pianist,Beatrice Rana, who also played the Etudes op 25 recently.
I was sorry to hear of a last minute change that robbed me of the chance to hear this young Polish man’s studies op 25.
Important engagements in the USA with different repertoire led to this change .
However it did not rob us completely of a chance to hear other pieces from his repertoire of Polish composers.
In fact the concert ended with Chopin’s Polonaise Heroique op 53 and included the Waltz in A flat op 34 and the Nocturne in D flat op 27 n.2.
All pieces that his compatriot and namesake Artur (Rubinstein) would regularly include in his programmes.
But we had to wait to the very last piece before we heard the style and verve of that young fellow who had so impressed me at St James’s three years ago.
The Moszkowski “Caprice Espagnole” op 37 played with all the grace and charm of the great pianists of the past.
Not many people know that my old teacher Vlado Perlemuter studied with Moszkowski,both being of Polish origin before Perlemuter was befriended as a teenager by Alfred Cortot.
A beautiful liquid sound in the D flat nocturne that was bathed in the sunlight that the pedal and an acute sense of balance can give to a true artist.
The waltz in A flat too played with a great flexibility and subtle sense of style.The filigree passage in the coda was as irrisistable today as it was in Rubinsteins hands.
Two Mazukas from op 24 played with such subtle rhythm and sense of dance that only the Polish seem to understand.
Fou Ts’ong of course is the great exception to that although he did study in Warsaw!
Two pieces from op.14 by that great statesman and pianist- composer Ignacy Jan Paderewski completed this “Polish” part of his programme.
The famous Minuet in G and the lesser known Cracovienne Fantastique the first and last pieces from op 14.
The concert started with Schubert’s Impromptu in G flat op 90 n.3 a piece that Rubinstein too would often include in his programmes together with n.4.
Here immediately established the beautiful tone and sense of balance allied to a flexibile beat that was the hallmark of much of the recital today.
The Sonata on B flat K 281 by Mozart was played with great precision and rhythmic energy but just missed the “stile galante” that this early piece needs.
The Rondo was a shade too fast to allow Mozart’s impish sense of humour to shine through as it would have in Curzon or Uchida’s hands.
The first movement could have had some of the same flexibility that he had demonstrated to such effect in his compatriots music.
The Andante amoroso of course was bathed in the same beautiful sound that had shone through so beautifully here in Circeo where I was privileged to have Artur Haftman play in my home whilst seated in front of the log fire thanks to the wonderful dedication and expertise of Hugh Mather and his colleagues in the all too distant Perivale.

St Mary’s Perivale

Lago di Paola Circeo
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