Some exquisite playing from Jonathan Ferrucci in the live stream to Washington Arts Club thanks to the collaboration between St Mary’s Perivale and the Keyboard Charitable Trust and of course the incomparable Burnett Thompson to whom we send thanks and congratulations for this concert and for an even more special occasion on the 24th!PIanist Jonathan Ferrucci Interview with Burnett Thompson: Arts Club of Washington & Keyboard Trust

There was such an enormous demand that some problems were created  with the  Internet connection  not only here in Italy but also in East Croydon ,USA  and elsewhere.
Hopefully  it will all come clean in the wash and we look forward to a perfect recording.
And here it is thanks to St Mary’s superb technicians:
Here is what I wrote a week ago and I can only add that Jonathan gets better and better as we gradually come out of the lockdown experience without any public performances for almost four months.
Jonathan introduced the concert with an affectionate and heartfelt thank you to  John and Noretta Conci Leech, founders of the Keyboard Trust, for supporting him in his hour of  need.
His Schumann was beautiful with all the sweep that was missing last time but with all the exquisite details in place.
His Bach is very much influenced by his mentor Angela Hewitt with absolute clarity and a musicality that is based on the song and the dance rather than the rock  of the High Priestess Rosalyn Tureck ………It was very amusing his quote that some musicians do not believe in God but all musicians believe in Bach!
It reminds me of Landowska at the London debut of Rosalyn Tureck in the Wigmore Hall :”she plays it her way – I play it Bach’s!”
Angela’s return to public performance was something to treasure in these unexpected puzzling times.
Jonathan’s sublime opening of the Fifth French suite was a marvel of pastoral composure and I am sure that if the Gods were looking in they would have approved too.The absolute clarity of the knotty twine  was a marvel in the way he managed to shape the continuous stream of sounds just as the great Florentine sculptors would have turned a block of marble into something movingly alive  and vital.
I have never heard the Bartòk played with such clarity and character since Andor Foldes.The silent composure of the slow movement was a marvel of calm before the storm.And what a storm almost being ejected from the stool on the final notes
An unexpected encore of a Poulenc improvisation just showed his aristocratic sense of colour and style that was so much part of the French school in the first half of the 20th century.
Sentiment but not sentimental as was the key to the whole recital.
One of the comments noted during transmission was :Exquisite!
As one might describe too his home city of Florence :Unique!

Pianist Jonathan Ferrucci in concert

July 12, 2020: The Concert Reviews

Jonathan Ferrucci performed a program of Bach, Schumann and Bartok, livestreamed from the 12th Century St. Mary’s in Perivale to a worldwide audience. Presented by the Arts Club of Washington in partnership with the Keyboard Trust and St. Mary’s in Perivale, London.Below are reviews submitted by the attendees.

“What a pleasure to see and hear this brilliant young man playing the most beautiful classical selections, with a gusto and love connected to every movement on the Yamaha… Thanks to Caroline and her organization for producing these concerts. I have attended several at Steinway Hall in NYC. Listening to the music during quarantine soothes and heals and for the moment eases the feeling of isolation. Gratefully, ” Mari Lyn Henry New York City

“Wonderful sensitivity and great musicianship. The Bartok was interesting and Jonathan showed great mastery of a very difficult Schumann piece.” David Williamson Dedham, MA

“The excitement I felt looking forward to my friend’s performance was fulfilled by this marvelous recital! Jonathan’s exquisite technique and wonderfully expressed interpretations were completely up to his consistent standard and I am so grateful to the sponsoring organizations for making possible not only today’s and many other productions, but also the welcome, in-depth interview/ conversation with Jonathan earlier in the week. I was very disappointed, as have been many others, by the cancellation of Jonathan’s U.S. tour and our plan to meet together but, hopefully, one day! With Sincere Gratitude” Bob McCormick Somers Point, NJ

” Jonathan Ferrucci plays every note with impeccable musical depth that is finely disciplined yet richly expressive. Stylistically, he has no limits to his range of expression. He is an artist of enormous musical and technical skill who has the ability to invite us into a deeply intimate conversation, while we sit there, holding our breath, with unwavering, undivided, fully focused attention! Bravoooo!!! ” Marianne Ackerson, Bloomington, IN

” Fabulous pianist, I was especially impressed by his interpretation of the Bach French suite. When will he next be playing live (with audience present!) in London? I’ll be there. He has a great career ahead of him. a real pleasure to see and listen to. Congratulations!” Rosie Simonneau, Calais, France

” After allowing time for Jonathan Ferrucci’s piano recital at St Mary’s Perivale to be digested, and for his extraordinary musical depth and interpretation to ferment alongside his interpretive skills, l am left in considerable awe. There is a unique and natural modesty surrounding this young musician that exudes charm as well as a fineness of being. His emotional, intellectual and spiritual connectivity to the composers works we heard is really something to appreciate more and more, and in the fullness of time.” Diana Mavroleon London

“Kudos to Jonathan Ferrucci for an impressive concert. Your exquisite performance of difficult and challenging pieces showcased your talent, discipline, and sensitivities. I look forward to experiencing future concerts virtually and hopefully in person when you next perform in the US.” Henry Cox, New York City

“Some exquisite playing from Jonathan Ferrucci in the live stream to the Arts Club of Washington, thanks to the collaboration between St Mary’s Perivale and the Keyboard Charitable Trust, and of course the incomparable Burnett Thompson to whom we send thanks and congratulations for this concert and for an even more special occasion on the 24th! Jonathan introduced the concert with an affectionate and heartfelt thank you to John and Noretta Conci Leech, founders of the Keyboard Trust, for supporting him in his hour of need.

His Schumann was beautiful with all the sweep that was missing last time but with all the exquisite details in place. His Bach is very much influenced by his mentor Angela Hewitt with absolute clarity and a musicality that is based on the song and the dance rather than the rock of the High Priestess Rosalyn Tureck ………It was very amusing his quote that some musicians do not believe in God but all musicians believe in Bach! more at the blog… Christopher Axworthy, London


Bocheng Wang’s magnificent Rachmaninov at St Mary’s

Tuesday 7 July 4.00 pm

Streamed ‘live’ concert in an empty church

Bocheng Wang (piano)

Haydn: Sonata in C minor Hob XVI:20

                            Chopin: Andante spianato and Grand Polonaise Op 22

                           Rachmaninov: Piano sonata no 2 in B flat minor Op 36

Chinese – British concert pianist Bocheng Wang was born in Lanzhou, China, and is currently studying with Professor Christopher Elton for Bachelor’s Degree at the Royal Academy of Music, generously supported by the Violet Irene Strutton Award with a full scholarship. He is an artist at the Talent Unlimited Foundation. Bocheng started to play the piano when he was five and his competition successes includes the first prize at Grand Prize Virtuoso “Salzburg” International Music Competition (2019), first prize at Croydon Concerto Competition (2015), second prize at Liszt International Society Piano Competition (2015), and third prize at the ‘Young Pianist of the North’ International Piano Competition (2012). In 2018, he was a semifinalist at the prestigious Santander International Piano Competition and performed with the Cuarteto Quiroga. In recent years, he has performed with many orchestras such as Dulwich Symphony, London Mozart Players and Purcell Symphony. He has appeared in many international festivals such as Konzertarbeitswochen Goslar, PianoTexas, Ferrara, Oxford and Dartington. In June 2016, he was invited to play for a celebratory concert in honour of HM The Queen Elizabeth II ‘s 90th birthday and honoured to meet Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex. Since then, he performed in prestigious venues such as the FAZIOLI Hall in Sacile, Italy, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, London’s Kings Place, Wigmore Hall, St. Martin-in-the-fields, Fairfield Hall and Watford Colosseum.


I have deliberately placed a photo of Dr Mather at the head of this  piece about the recital by Bocheng Wang in order that we might wish this extraordinarily generous and enthusiastic retired physician  all best wishes for his 75th birthday that he celebrated yesterday the 6th July.Promoting with the help of his dedicated colleagues so many young musicians who otherwise would be denied a platform for their quite extraordinary talent.In a beautiful redundant church in the center of Ealing Golf Course  the concerts are streamed wordwide.In an empty church as these times prescribe they are live performances that are enjoyed by a very large audience in their own homes.On Sunday there will even be a live stream in collaboration with the Arts Club in Washington and  the Keyboard Charitable Trust.


So it was fitting that this slightly built young chinese pianist should have given such a magnificent performance of the Rachmaninov Second Sonata that truly honoured this special birthday week.It is interesting to note that three years after his third piano concerto was finished, Rachmaninoff moved with his family to a house in Rome that  Tchaikovsky had used and it was during this time in Rome that Rachmaninoff started working on his second piano sonata. However, because both of his daughters contracted typhoid fever, he was unable to finish the composition in Rome and it was completed at his country estate in Russia. The first performance was in 1913 but Rachmaninov thought it too long and  later revised it in 1931 reducing it by 6 minutes  from 25 to 19.Horowitz made his own revision in 1940 with the composers consent incorporating some of the original version and it last 22 minutes.


I assume that Bocheng played the Rachmaninov 1931 edition  as it lasted almost the 19 minutes that Rachmaninov prescribed in 1931!He immediately plunged in the tumultuous world of Rachmaninov.Playing with great virtuosity and truly sumptuous sonorities.There was a  luminosity to the sound and his great sense of balance always allowed the melodic line to sing with such ease.From the deeply felt slow movement played as a deep lament with some beautiful colouring to the wonderful melodic climax of the final played with such passionate involvement and so reminiscent of the great climax of the third concerto.There was never a hard sound in this young man’s hands but always a rich Philadelphian sound of such velvety beauty and passion. The sheer animal excitement of the ending was breathtaking and indeed reminded me of the first first time I had heard this sonata in a live performance by Horowitz.The frenzy and sweep brought the audience to their feet at the end as I am sure they would have been today.I like to think that the hidden audience were cheering over a cup of tea in their own homes.


The concert had begun with the beautiful C minor Sonata of Haydn.It was played with a delicacy and precision but  at the same time shaped with some very aristocratic rubato.The refreshingly innocent lyricism of the opening was beautifully controlled and contrasted so well with the crisp crystal  clarity of the contrasting  faster  passages.His superb sense of balance allowed the melodic line in the Andante con moto to sing with an almost operatic freedom and the Allegro molto that follows was played with great character and rhythmic energy.


The Andante Spianato and Grand Polonaise by Chopin began truly ‘spianato’ or smoothly. There was a lovingly shaped melodic line over a  murmuring left hand with the embellishments glittering in his very sentitive hands.There was also a gentle nonchalance to the contrasting mazuka section that was very beguiling.The Grand Polonaise was played with great style although his orchestral players could have been a little more disciplined and he could have taken much more time to display his virtuosity and delicacy to the full. He played with great rhythmic urgency and sense of style but feel if he had played it just a little slower he could have allowed us to wallow in the beautiful sounds that he was making as he had done so magnificently in the Rachmaninov Sonata that followed.

ALEXANDER ULLMAN – Long Distance Liszt in Utrecht


Image may contain: text that says "online laureate festival LONG DISTANCE LISZT 4July 2020 20.00 20.00 hrs Liszt Utrecht KEEP 1 PIANO APART"
While much of the world remains in lockdown, we will host an online festival ‘Long Distance Liszt’ on the 4th of July. A special line-up of former prize winners will bring pieces of Liszt and Beethoven, including some of the amazing Beethoven Symphony transcriptions, from TivoliVredenburg straight to your home. Mark your calendar for Saturday 4 July 2020, 8 pm (CEST), live on Facebook!
International Franz Liszt Piano Competition

 4 July at 20:00 Utrecht, Netherlands 

Welcome to the online festival ‘Long Distance Liszt’! A special line-up of former prize winners will bring pieces of

Franz Liszt

and @

Ludwig van Beethoven



straight to your home.

Alexander Ullman

– Beethoven/Liszt – Symphony No. 3, S464/3 – 1st Movement

Christiaan Kuyvenhoven

– Beethoven – Eroica Variations, Op. 35

Nino Gvetadze

– Schubert/Liszt – Ave Maria, s558/1

Mengjie Han

– Tsoupaki – Thin air (

Festivals for Compassion

– premiere on piano)

Amatis Piano Trio

– Liszt – Tristia, S723c

Mengjie Han – Beethoven/Liszt – Symphony No 7, S464/7 – 2nd Movement
Wibi Soerjadi

– Liszt – Après une lecture de Dante – Fantasia quasi sonata, S161/7

Alexander Ullman en Mengjie Han – Beethoven/Liszt – Symphony No 9, S464/9 – 4th Movement (excerpt)

Amazing performances by Alexander Ullman of the Eroica and 9th Symphonies for Beethoven 250 th Anniversary at the International Franz Liszt Competition in Utrecht. It was also Alex’s birthday what a celebration that was !
What a wonder these Liszt transcriptions are in the right hands as with the Bach Chaconne in Busoni’s hands …these are masterpieces in their own right……..listen to this and you will see what I mean.
As you can see I have heard Alex many times over the years but I have never heard him play with such authority and commitment as here.
My first impression five years ago ,that he looks and plays like a young God ,was not totally misplaced! …….


Filippo Gorini at Ravenna Festival Live 2nd July 2020

Filippo Gorini

at Ravenna Festival live

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Dedicated to Beethoven is was to him that his last sonata was given a superb performance.
A maturity way above his age allowed him to give a performance of enormous power and energy.
The rhythmic impetus was something that held us on the edge of our seats from the opening solidly majestic octaves- strangely played by two hands to the unrelenting wave that carried us to the final ethereal bars.
Never a moment of doubt that this was a statement of great importance and a fitting tribute to Beethoven in his 250th anniversary year.
Inspired by the great music that he had unfolded before us he went on to give another superlative performance of the Schubert Impromptu op 90 n.1.Here he opened up a whole world with a fantasy and sense of colour and minute attention to detail that was breathtaking.
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The Schubert ‘Fantasy’ Sonata in G I have written about before when he played it at the historic Teatro Argentina for the Filarmonica.
A musicianly performance but missing the fantasy and colour that are the very soul of this very elusive work.
A very fine performance but everything paled in the face of the inspiration of the Beethoven and the not so little encore.
Filippo confided afterwards that he had had to battle with  the noise of cars and cicadas in this seemingly idyllic setting.
The Schubert G major Sonata certainly needs the intimacy and sensitive acoustic that an open air venue cannot always provide.
It was a very fine performance but Filippo outshone himself with an unforgettable performance of Beethoven op 111.
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After a brief interval he had obviously got used to the atmosphere and was ready to take us by storm with Beethoven’s tempestuous first movement that gave way to the sublime Arietta and variations transporting us into the celestial atmosphere where an already deaf Beethoven could envisage so perfectly the paradise that awaits.
Filippo is a very rare breed as  an interpreter who happens to play the piano superbly .
There was never any showmanship or distraction.
His hands rarely left the keys.
His head bowed in concentration and it was obvious that he was listening to every strand of sound that he was creating with such sensibility and intelligence.
Like a great conductor holding the whole work under tight architectural control.
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His recordings of Beethoven Diabelli and Hammerklavier have understandably taken the music world by surprise much as the arrival of Barenboim did years ago.
He tells me that during lock down he has been working on the Art of Fugue of which I have heard a part of  his work in progress.
I cannot wait to hear the whole work.
This a very serious young man with something important to say.
It is only fitting that the festival of Riccardo Muti in Ravenna should have had the courage and wisdom to present him to the world in these troubled times.
It gave us hope for a better future and a gentle reminder that it is quality not quantity that is needed for our souls.

Jonathan Ferrucci at St Mary’s

Tuesday 30 June 4.00 pm

Streamed ‘live’ concert in an empty church

Jonathan Ferrucci (piano)

Bach: Toccata in G minor BWV 915
Bach: French suite no 5 in G BWV 816

  1.                                                       Allemande Courante Sarabande Gavotte Bourrée Loure Gigue

Schumann: Fantasy in C Major Op 17

  •   Durchaus fantastisch und leidenschaftlich vorzutragen; Im Legenden-Ton – Mäßig. Durchaus energisch – Langsam getragen.                                                                                    Durchweg leise zu halten.

Italian-Australian pianist Jonathan Ferrucci has given concerts throughout Europe, Australia, the US and Japan. In London he has performed in Wigmore Hall, Barbican Hall, Milton Court Concert Hall. As winner of the Jaques Samuel Competition in 2016, his Wigmore recital was professionally recorded and he was invited to play at Fazioli Concert Hall in Italy. In 2018 he made his debut at Carnegie Weill Hall as part of the “Guildhall Artists in New York” project and was a winner at the International Bach Competition in Leipzig. In 2019 he was a Rising Star for Portland Piano International and gave a masterclass and recitals throughout Oregon.Jonathan studied at the Conservatory of Music in Florence with Giovanni Carmassi, then in London with Joan Havill at the Guildhall, where he completed a masters degree, Artist Diploma, and Artist Fellowship. His studies have been supported by the Leverhulme Trust, Jessie Wakefield Award, Guildhall School Trust and Tait Memorial Trust. Jonathan’s artistic development has been profoundly influenced by Aldo Ciccolini and Robert Levin, and by his ongoing studies with Angela Hewitt, as well as masterclasses with Murray Perahia, Richard Goode, Peter Frankl and Christian Zacharias.As co-founder of Made in Music, a non-profit, he organized two festivals bringing together musicians from eight countries. He believes that music is a universal language that can unite people from different cultures and backgrounds. Alongside his time at the piano, Jonathan practises Ashtanga yoga and considers it an integral part of his work, and essential in his life.Illustrated below for Yoga day :

As you can see and read I have heard Jonathan on many occasions and always marvel at his Bach playing of such  clarity combined with a delicacy and above all for his teasing very personal use of ornamentation.
From the very opening flourishes of the Toccata in G minor here was someone with something  important to say .There were such colours and meaning in every note but at the same time played with absolute clarity .From the  nobility  of the opening  changing  to deeply contemplative and yet again to a playfully understated dance.All this within a span of a few minutes.A stillness in the  moving central section before bursting into the rhythmic impetus of the toccata and the final virtuosistic  flourishes  before plunging to the final  bass  notes.
The beautifully simple pastoral opening  of the Allemande  of the 5th French suite was immediately followed by the infectious dance rhythm of the Courante.The Sarabande was played with a sublime simplicity and wonderful sense of balance that was even more poignant in the ritornello.The charmingly hesitant opening of the Gavotte  gradually took sail and led to a scintillating Bourée like a ray of sunshine with the ornaments glistening like jewels in its busy percourse.The Loure was played with a melancholic yearning of great meaning.The Gigue was full of such gaiety with an amazing clarity in which every strand was so clearly heard and the ornamentation in the ritornello just added to the sense of enjoyment  with some wonderful changes of colour that were really quite breathtaking.
He immediately plunged into the world of Schumann with the passionate outpourings of this work dedicated to Liszt and written as a contribution to the appeal to erect a monument to Beethoven in Bonn.The monument was eventually completed, due mainly to the efforts of Liszt, who paid 2,666 thaler, the largest single contribution. It was unveiled in grand style in 1845, the attendees including Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, and many other dignitaries and composers, but not Schumann, who was already ill.
The first movement though was written  as a lament on being separated from his future wife Clara.It is  full of passionate longing and at the same time heartrending delicacy.The problem is to wield these two elements together  with an underlying rhythmic energy that is like an undercurrent that is always present although now passionate and now subdued. Jonathan produced some wonderfully full sounds and literally rose to the occasion with passionate involvement never loosing his control and sense of architectural shape as they dissolved into the most beautifully shaped quieter,contemplative  sections.
In his search for exquisite colours he sometimes lost this sense of forward movement that combines these Floristan and Eusebius characters into one complete lament.The ending with the quote from Beethoven: ‘to the distant beloved’ was touchingly played with such beautiful colours.
The second movement was played in a very measured way where Schumann’s sometimes irritating dotted rhythms were in Jonathan’s hand turned into the most beautifully shaped melodic episodes.The middle section in particular was played with a rich sonority and  beguiling sense of colour.The trecherous coda was played with great shape and amazing control and brought this movement to a tumultous ending before the magical opening of the final slow movement.Here Jonathan’s artistry and commitment were united with his musicianly sense of control for a truly moving performance.The rhythm even in the greatest of climaxes  was perfectly controlled and  shaped and the final ecstatic few bars were allowed full reign before the calming  final chords brought this extraordinary masterpiece to a very moving conclusion-
Jonathan Ferrucci can be heard again  with the Schumann op 17 and Bach 5th French Suite   together with the Bartok Sonata in a special live stream from Perivale to Washington on the 12th July at 19h .It is a joint collaboration between the Washington Arts Club directed by Burnett Thompson ,the Keyboard Charitable Trust and St Mary’s Perivale.

Julian Jacobson at St Mary’s



Sunday 28 June 4.00 pm

Streamed ‘live’ concert in an empty church

Julian Jacobson (piano)

Bach-Jacobson: Sarabande from 6th Cello Suite
Granados:  The Maiden and the Nightingale (Goyescas no 4)
Chopin    Sonata no 2 in B flat minor Op 35 “Funeral March”

Rachmaninov: Prelude in G flat Op 23 no 10

One of Britain’s most creative and distinctive pianists, Julian Jacobson is acclaimed for the vitality, colour and insight he brings to his enormous repertoire ranging across all styles and periods. He was born in Peebles, Scotland and studied in London from the age of seven with Lamar Crowson (piano) and Arthur Benjamin (composition), and had published four songs by the age of nine. From 1959 to 1968 he studied at the Royal College of Music where his principal teachers were John Barstow and Humphrey Searle. On graduating with the Sarah Mundlak Piano Prize in 1968 he took up a scholarship to read Music at Queen’s College, Oxford. After further studies with Louis Kentner he made his London debut at the Purcell Room in 1974, follwed by his Wigmore Hall debut as both solo recitalist and chamber musician. During the 1980s he established himself as a fine duo and ensemble pianist, partnering many leading instrumentalists including Nigel Kennedy, Steven Isserlis, Moray Welsh, Colin Carr, Alexander Baillie and Philippa Davies.
His appointment in 1992 as Head of Keyboard Studies at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama led to an increasing concentration on solo work. In 1994 he embarked on his first cycle of the complete 32 Beethoven sonatas; he has now presented the cycle eight times, the last two in a single day (apparently being only the second pianist to attempt this). His many festival appearances as soloist and chamber musician include Edinburgh, Aldeburgh, Bath, Brighton, Cheltenham, Dartington, Glasgow, Huddersfield, Norwich and Prussia Cove on tour. He has appeared in more than forty countries on five continents. An ongoing commitment to contemporary music has led to many commissions and premieres. In 1987 he gave the critically acclaimed UK premiere of Ligeti’s now famous Etudes Book One; a subsequent recording for BBC Radio 3 was highly praised by the composer.Julian Jacobson is currently a professor of piano and chamber music at the Royal College of Music. He was Artistic Director of the Paxos International Festival, Greece, from 1988 to 2004, is Artistic Director of “Rencontres Musicales à Eygalières”, and teaches regularly at Cadenza Summer School at the Purcell School, North London. He has given masterclasses in Germany, Paris, Budapest (Franz Liszt Academy), Spain, Sweden, Canada, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, the Middle East, and on many occasions in Dartington.


An extra recital added to the Tuesday and Thursday series of  concerts live streamed from St Mary’s in Perivale.It was to give a platform to a distinguished musician who was only too pleased to be invited to play live after so many months of cancelled or postponed concerts.Julian Jacobson is one of the very few musicians who can play all 32 Sonatas of Beethoven on the same day in a true marathon performance.And that is only a small part of his repertoire and activity as a musician.He was consultant together with Leslie Howard and Paul Badura Skoda for the Barenreiter edition of the Beethoven Sonatas in the new and most complete edition  to date edited by Jonathan del Mar.

One just has to look at his curriculum to marvel at all the  activities that he is able to undertake.It  was indeed fascinating to hear his very learned introductions to the works he presented and then to hear them so clearly presented by a musician who was intent on showing us the great musical line of the works.There were moments in the Chopin Sonata op 35 where one would have liked a little more detail but it was interesting to see how he played the repeat in the first movement.There have long been discussions about this repeat! Should it include the introduction  or be repeated only to the doppio movimento some bars later?Well of course Julian being the  learned musician he is realises that the introduction is exactly the main ingredient  of the development section that follows with the great bass intervals.As he told us the Funeral March was written two years before the rest of this ‘dark,strong and tragic sonata ‘.He also quoted Charles Rosen as saying these were not four independent movements just pieced together but they have no independent life of their own.A performance of great lines in which the lightness and agility of the second was slightly laboured but the final movement of continuous triplets was played with great agility.A mysterious movement at times even atonal that no one has quite understood how it evolved as it is quite unique in its originality.


Julian’s own transcription of the 6th cello suite opened the concert.He had heard  the suites as a student at Oxford  University when Rohan de Sarem played them over two evenings.Piers Lane had invited Julian to play in his series of transcriptions at the National Gallery some years ago and what better excuse than to transcribe the Sarabande from the 6th suite. Written for a five string instrument and the hardest to play Julian decided that he too would make it more difficult for himself by playing the Bach original in the left hand before adding his own harmonies and embellishments to the repeat of Bach’s original .A fascinating transcription played with great style and colour.


A very interesting introduction to Goyescas by Granados  of which he played one of the six pieces: ‘The Maiden and the Nightingale.’Julien had listened to an historic recording of Granados playing it and had noticed that there was a note that was not in any of the published scores.He found the same difference looking at the opera of Goyescas, a one act opera based on this piano suite of 1911 and  first performed in 1916 at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York .The opera was based on themes from the famous piano suite of 1911, which he orchestrated and augmented to form a three-scene work. The libretto had to be fitted to existing melodies, the reverse of the usual way of writing an opera. Though the opera is rarely performed, the piano suite forms part of the standard piano repertoire.The success of the Met premiere of Goyescas led indirectly to Granados’s death. He was invited by President  Woodrow Wilson to perform a piano recital at the White House causing him to postpone his return to Spain. Granados and his wife lost their lives on March 24, 1916 when their ship, the French steamer Sussex, was torpedoed by a German U-boat in the English Channel.

Rubinstein too played as the composers recording.His was the first performance that I had heard in public.Rubinstein being a friend of Granados obviously followed the composers own indications that has sadly not been the case in the editions that were subsequently published.A beautifully modulated performance of great strength and charm.

The Prelude in G flat op 23  by Rachmaninov was  as Julian said the ideal calming piece to play after the Chopin Sonata and it was infact a most delicately and beautiful shaped performance .

Dr Hugh Mather was proud to say that Julian will be one of the 32 pianists that will perform the Beethoven Soanatas over two days -October 3rd and 4th in St Mary’s celebration of Beethoven 250.If any of the pianists should be indisposed I am sure that Julian at a drop of a hat could fill in!Hats off to an extraordinarily versatile musician .


A Winter’s Journey ……..In the beginning is our end …….or is it?Mark Padmore and Mitsuko Uchida final live stream in the Wigmore Hall lockdown Series

A Winters Journey what a journey indeed and a moving end to these lockdown concerts streamed live from the Wigmore Hall over the past four weeks.
As the clouds gradually lift Schubert with Mark Padmore and Mitsuko Uchida could not have expressed what we have all experienced so eloquently or should I say magically.
Winterreise D911 charting a devastated landscape of the mind moving eventually from disaster to a kind of resumption of life.
The final Leiermann-Hurdy Girdy man :’No one wants to hear him,no one looks at him and the dogs growl around the old man.And he lets it go on ,everything just as it will.Should I go with you?Will you play your hurdy-girdy to my songs’
Minutes of aching silence after a 90 minute journey together with these two supreme interpreters.
Covid is being conquered with the magic message of the soul through poetry and music.Q.E.D.
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Martha Argerich – A legend speaks – Hamburg 25th June 2020

An amazing evening again in the company of the genial,mercurial and unique Martha Argerich.In the historic Laeiszhalle she chose to play a solo performance of Chopin B minor Sonata inbetween two violin and piano sonatas by Beethoven and Franck.Here is the review from Bachtrack that I found on line today and gladly add to the photos that I took whilst watching the streaming live .

It seemed like the right moment to add some pieces of mine of her performances over the past few years in Rome and London just to add to the legend that is Martha Argerich.


Mercurial Martha: Argerich springs a surprise in recital with Renaud Capuçon in Hamburg

This was 24-carat special. Since its long overdue (and grossly over-budget) debut in 2017, the shiny new Elbphilharmonie has dominated Hamburg’s musical life. However, the Laeiszhalle – over a century older – continues to offer musical excellence, home to the Symphoniker Hamburg, currently in the midst of an enterprising series of live-streamed concerts themed around Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde. Tonight though, the decks were cleared as classical music royalty took to the stage, Martha Argerich joining Renaud Capuçon for an outstanding recital which included a huge surprise.

Renaud Capuçon and Martha Argerich © Symphoniker Hamburg

Renaud Capuçon and Martha Argerich
© Symphoniker Hamburg

After weeks of live streams to empty halls, it still feels odd not to hear the buzz of an expectant audience. Staring into the ceiling of the Großer Saal, all one could hear was Capuçon warming up, then the sound of footsteps echoing before the video editor finally showed us the stage. With the minimum of fuss – Argerich cannot bear fuss – they got straight down to business with a jovial account of Beethoven’s Violin Sonata no. 8 in G major, the third of the Op.30 set, dedicated to Tsar Alexander I. Although composed at a time when Beethoven knew he was losing his hearing, it’s full of joy. Capuçon was at his most playful, left foot often swinging in the air, his satin tone immaculately tailored to the musical line. Argerich, giving an occasional flick of her hair, was a miracle of agility and feathery touch, gently teasing rubatos in the central Tempo di minuetto. The Rondo finale, with its piano drone reminiscent of peasant bagpipes, had a pastoral feel, Capuçon bowing furiously in the coda.

César Franck’s A major sonata is probably his best known piece, a work with a happy genesis, composed as a wedding present for Belgian violinist Eugène Ysaÿe in 1886. In the wrong hands it can cloy, but in the best performances – and this was definitely one – there is an aroma of perfumed ecstasy that’s impossible to resist. Capuçon spun gilt threads in the opening, his tone exquisite throughout. Argerich was the perfect foil, her playing feisty, more instinctive. She flung herself into the frenetic semiquavers that open the Allegro in tempestuous fashion, while the third movement had a rhapsodic feel, the violin’s big yearning melody tinged with regret. But the clouds scatter and blue skies prevail in the finale, building in passionate excitement. Without the usual ritual of applause, the players politely bowed to each other, Argerich whispering a simple “Merci”.

Martha Argerich © Symphoniker Hamburg

Martha Argerich
© Symphoniker Hamburg

But, with all due to respect to the superb Capuçon, it was what came in between these two violin sonatas that astonished. Argerich eschews the limelight and long since gave up solo recitals, her energies focused on chamber music and a small canon of concertos. Even her encores tend to favour collaborative duets with conductor-pianists. Incredibly, Argerich hasn’t performed Chopin’s mighty Third Sonata in public for 25 years – and it’s never been captured on film before – so this performance was totally unexpected. It was clearly kept under wraps, the programme only announced on the Symphoniker Hamburg’s website half an hour before the recital began.

There was no public here, at least in the hall, so perhaps this released Argerich from any tension. She didn’t quite rip into the opening as she did in her legendary 1965 recording – Gramophone famously likened her to “a tigress” – but the Scherzo was lightning fast, every note sparkling and tumbling in cascades, Martha at her mercurial best. She rocked from side to side in the cantabile lines of the Largo, her poetic phrasing improvisatory in nature. She allowed herself an occasional smile and a half glance out into the auditorium, as if revelling in the solitude. After a fleet-fingered finale, Argerich gave almost an accusatory glance to her imaginary audience, acknowledging that she’d not forgotten her eavesdroppers after all. Pure gold.

This performance was reviewed from the video live stream. 





Angela Hewitt the Glory of God to refresh our spirits live stream from the Wigmore Hall

 For the Glory of God to refresh our spirits
Angela Hewitt’s most moving recital at the Wigmore Hall.
Visibly moved as we all were as she allowed her own transcription of “All men must die ” BWV 643 to fill this hallowed hall with the hope and joy that she has been sharing with us for the past 35 years.
In the month when Angela Hewitt would have performed the final concert of the multi-season Bach Odyssey, she presented a special live broadcast programme including her own arrangement of a 1714 chorale.
PROGRAMME  Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) Toccata in C minor BWV911; Sinfonia No. 5 in E flat BWV791; English Suite No. 6 in D minor BWV811 I. Prelude; Capriccio in B flat major (Capriccio on the Departure of his Most Beloved Brother) BWV992 III. Adagiosissimo: Ist ein allgemeines Lamento der Freunde; Fantasia and Fugue in C minor BWV906 I. Fantasia; French Suite No. 5 in G BWV816 III. Sarabande; Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue in D minor BWV903 ;Alle Menschen müssen sterben BWV643 (arr. Angela Hewitt)
There are times when words are just not enough and music takes over as the complete silence and stillness at the end of Angela Hewitt’s recital demonstrated today.
Capturing in the few final lines a contemplative faith,joy and musical perfection.
As Schumann exclaimed to Mendelssohn when he listened to a Bach chorale …….’a melody laced with garlands of gold evoking the thought that if life were deprived of all trust and faith this chorale would restore it to me’
A recital in place of the final Art of Fugue that would have brought her 12 recital Bach Odyssey to an end and the highest award that the hall could humbly offer to an artist.
As John Gilhooley in his citation declared: ‘Angela in  35 years of performances at the Wigmore Hall has shown a timeless curiosity,technical flair and an overriding sense of artistic integrity.’
A recital that demonstrated the art of Angela Hewitt from the opening grandiose introduction of the C minor Toccata to the magic stillness of the Adagio.The supreme delicacy of the Toccata theme in the left hand answered so eloquently by the right and its return where the mischievous counterpoints were played with a delicacy that allowed this knotty twine to glisten like jewels in the sun.
The sinfonia was a miracle of purity of line with a staccato accompaniment that demonstrated her mastery and technical prowess.
The grandiose opening of the D minor English suite with the multicoloured strands that she went on to extract with such obvious delight and joy.The expressive yearning one could almost hear in the way she played the right hand downward phrases in the Capriccio for a dearly departed brother.
The Fantasia in C minor was just the shimmering almost Scarlatti precision  that was needed before the sublime beauty of the Sarabande from the 5th French suite.
The grandiose flourishes of the Chromatic Fantasy soon died away as she drew us in to her world of Bach where every strand made such sense and was imbued with such character.
The final Chorale created even over the air that magical moment when you can almost feel the listeners sharing an experience together that can only happen in that moment.
It was Mitsuko Uchida who told me once after a concert in Perugia that  it is the memory of such an occasion  that is to be cherished – no photo or recording will ever capture that magic moment again.


Nicola Losito takes Piano City Pordenone by storm

Nicola Losito at Piano City Pordenone
Some extraordinarily authoritative playing of Beethoven and Liszt from this young pianist from Trieste.
He had been  invited to join ranks with some other superb musicians such as Andrea Bacchetti,Leonora Armellini and many others with the internet star Valentina Lesitsa at their helm.
Piano City with great courage had decided that the show must go on and despite distancing difficulties it decided to give the guiding light to start up live music making once again.
 A year  or so ago Nicola Losito was invited by the Keyboard Trust to play in London in the last recital to be held in the Steinway Hall of Fame.This hall was transferred from the historic site in Bond Street to Wigmore Street.A magnificent Steinway concert grand surrounded by historic portraits of all the great pianists that have played Steinway in the past.Since Nicola’s concert the hall has been restored to a piano show room in a commendable effort to commercialize Steinway  in view of the strong competition from the Japanese and Italian School of Pianos makers.
Bechstein was always the great rival at the turn of the last century and their pianos were much admired by the great artists playing before the public.The Wigmore Hall was born as Bechstein Hall.
Other German makes sprung up: Boesendorfer,Bluthner,Grotrian Steinweg etc as now there are also Yamaha,Kwai and Fazioli.
Steinway has always held its head up high and universally has become the piano that is most reliable for sound,projection and workmanship.
That is not to say that there are not some wonderful pianos also produced by others.
I have heard some magnificent performances on Yamaha, by Richter and others, and also on his disciples pianos: Kwai Shigeru at the Chopin Competition in Warsaw.I have heard many great performances from Angela Hewitt and others on Fazioli too.I remember though Louis Lortie in London preferring to play Brahms Sonata in F minor on a Boesendorfer even though he is a Fazioli artist.He had told us in the programme that for Chopin Fazioli was ideal but for Brahms Boesendorfer was the only one!I understand that the mechanics of Boesendorfer are produced now by Yamaha.
In the end it is a question of sound and touch which also depends on the artistry of the performer.
The Yamaha that had been provided by Giovanni Iannantuoni was a fine intrument as were the six that he had generously provided for the Piano Barga Festival of Roberto Prosseda last year
Hats off to this civilised rivalry between piano makers that are able to make fine instruments available to so many new concert initiatives for a superb array of young talent.
The home concerts by Yamaha in this lockdown period have allowed us to hear live streamed concerts amazingly on in tune instruments!
I had heard just by chance, the day before Nicola’s concert,  Leonora Armellini giving  magnificent performances of Chopin.I had innocently commented on the fact that I had not expected to hear such sumptuous sounds from a Japanese piano!
Well I got playfully reprimanded by Giovanni Iannantuoni for that, quite rightly!
Nicola had offered a very musicianly programme with the two sonatas by Beethoven: Sonate quasi una fantasia op 27 followed by Liszt Fantasia quasi Sonata.
The Sonata of 27 n.2 is better known as the “Moolight ” Sonata as the Liszt is known only as the Dante Sonata.This is the programme that he was to play for the Keyboard Trust in the series for the Amici della Musica di Padova – due to the lockdown the concert was cancelled and has just been re confirmed for the 17th January leaving time to adjust to the new distancing regulations in the historic Salone dei Giganti.
It is the hall where Richter used to practice on their still magnificent Steinway before travelling a short distance to Mantua where the traffic was stopped around the historic Teatro Bibiena whilst his recording sessions were in progress.The recordings were on a Yamaha piano that Richter admired and  in that period had a special arrangement where a magnificent instrument and tuner would be provided anywhere he chose to travel!For Richter a prize instrument was provided!
The two Beethoven Sonatas were given exemplary performances in which every detail of the score was respected and brought vividly to life.The clarity and technical control were indeed remarkable and the Adagio  of op 27 n.1  was memorable.The rhythmic impetus in the Allegro vivace was wonderfully maintained and the dynamic contrasts and very precise indications were translated into hypnotic sounds.The interruption of the Adagio and the gently unfolding cadenza led to the brilliant Presto conclusion played with quite remarkable control.
The same Yamaha as Leonora but now slightly worse for wear after the marathon of concerts at the Piano City.It did not allow quite the same sense of colour and subtlety but it did allow us to marvel at his musicianship and sense of architectural control.
The famous Adagio sostenuto of op 27 n.2 I found a little slow for the marking that Beethoven indicates.To be played in 2 not 4 which gives slightly too much importance to the triplet accompaniment. He managed to sustain the melodic line  though so beautifully through a very careful sense of balance .By the ritornello and wonderful bass melodic line he had convinced me that this was a true Adagio sostenuto after all.
The second movement though I found a little too slow for the Allegretto marking and it lost something of its dance like lift.
The Presto Agitato was superbly played with great Beethovenian fervor.The balance between the hands in the lyrical sections allowed the melodic line to sing so touchingly without any forcing of the tone.The dramatic  virtuoso florishes that abound in this movement were played with great passion and the final few bars had all the bad manners for which Beethoven was famed .
The Dante Sonata was given an amazingly assured performance.The enormous contrasts between the great virtuoso octaves and tremolandos were  contrasted  so touchingly with the delicacy and Liszt’s most intimate confessions .A performance of great authority and character that held the audience spellbound and just confirmed my previous note about this young pianist in which I had been overwhelmed by his virtuosity and poetry.
His performances in London had been highly commended by the noted critic Bryce Morrison who had invited him to his home to discuss repertoire and listen to his unique collection of great pianists of the past.Alberto Portugheis,another highly respected figure in the music world living in London had been  impressed too and he  had invited him to discuss music with him in his studio.
One of the KT founder trustees had been on the jury of Osimo International Competition when Nicola was awarded first prize as a teenager.He has arranged tours for him in Germany as I have been able to in Italy too.
A young man headed for the heights  and it was wonderful how he rose to the occasion here in Pordenone  with some memorable performances after three months enforced silence.
But the most memorable was to come with an impeccable performance of Liszt Spanish Rhapsody that Valentina Lisitsa had chosen to play too in her opening gala recital.It was played by Nicola though with all the youthful passion and freshness of a young man like Liszt himself ready to take the world by storm.
By overwhelming public demand he was allowed to play one encore.
It was indeed a make or break performance of Chopin ‘s so called Ocean study op 25 n. 12 .Played with  tumultuous passion and breathtaking energy that swept  all before it  on a tidal wave of emotions.
Music is still alive and well .Welcome back to live music making at last!