Tag Archives: Russian pianist

Recalling Richter

20th March 2015 is the centenary of the birth of Sviatoslav Richter, one of the greatest pianists of the twentieth century. Born in Russia, Richter studied with Heinrich Neuhaus (who also taught Emil Gilels and Radu Lupu). It is said that Neuhaus declared Richter to be “the genius pupil, for whom he had been waiting all his life,” while acknowledging that he taught Richter “almost nothing.” Richter was acclaimed (and continues to be) for the depth of his interpretations, virtuoso technique, and vast repertoire.

Richter’s huge repertoire encompassed music ranging from Handel and Bach to Szymanowski, Berg, Webern, Stravinsky, Bartók, Hindemith, Britten, and Gershwin. He claimed to have “around eighty different programs, not counting chamber works” in his repertory, and he was also an acclaimed chamber musician who regularly worked with cellist Mstislav Rostropovich, violinist David Oistrakh and baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, as well as British composer Benjamin Britten.

To mark the centenary of his birth, I would like to compile an article comprising contributions from readers: recollections of concerts by Richter, favourite recordings, anecdotes, ephemera, what you feel makes him a great artist, and so forth….. Please feel free to leave your contributions in the comments section below or via the Contact page. I very much look forward to reading your recollections of Richter. The article will be published on his birthday.

Richter Centenary concert in London, 20th March at the 1901 Arts Club, given by British pianist and admirer of Richter James Lisney

Prokofiev – Legende Op.12/6
Haydn – Sonata in F, Hoboken XVI:29
Chopin – Andante Spianato and Grande Polonaise Brillante, Op.22
Schubert – Sonata in G, D.894

“This recital features works from his 1961 London recital and concerto debut. Richter often named the Schubert Sonata D.894 as his favourite and it featured in his return to the London concert platform in 1989.”

Full details and tickets

Daniil Trifonov: The Magics of Music

If you, like me, have enjoyed the wonderful artistry of Daniil Trifonov, the prize-winning young Russian pianist who combines extraordinary technical facility with a musical insight and maturity far beyond his tender years (he is 24), then you will not want to miss the screening on BBC Four of a new film on Trifonov made by Christopher Nupen. The film will be broadcast on Friday 20th February 2015 at 8pm under the title ‘Daniil Trifonov: Piano Sensation’

“What he does with his hands is technically incredible … and then there is his touch — so gifted with tenderness and, at the same time, he has the demonic element. I have never heard anything like this before”– Martha Argerich

Christopher Nupen has an established reputation as a maker of biographical films about musicians, and much of his work has been built on intimate friendships with leading musicians, including Jacqueline du Pré, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Daniel Barenboim, Pinchas Zukerman, Itzhak Perlman, Zubin Mehta, Nathan Milstein, Andrés Segovia, Isaac Stern and Evgeny Kissin.

Read my review of Daniil Trifonov at London’s Royal Festival Hall

Triffic Trifonov at Royal Festival Hall

© Dario Acosta Photography / DG

He looks like he should still be at school, yet he plays with the commanding presence, exceptional technical facility and deep commitment a professional artist thrice his years would envy. He’s slight, floppy haired, yet he can bring power and richness to the boldest fortissimo passages, while his pianissimos are delicate whispers. Welcome to the world of Daniil Trifonov.

Superlatives quickly become redundant when attempting to describe the pianistic feats of this young artist, winner in 2011 of both the Tchaikovsky and Rubenstein Competitions, and still only 23. He’s already got a clutch of recordings under his belt, and is in demand around the world. His London concert marked his Royal Festival Hall debut (he has already played at the Wigmore and Queen Elizabeth Halls), and it was therefore a pity that due to an unfortunate, and probably accidental, concert clash with Behzod Abduraimov’s Wigmore Hall recital, the Festival Hall was not as full-to-bursting as it might have been for this eagerly-anticipated debut.

Read my full review here

Boris Berezovsky at Royal Festival Hall

(photo credit: David Crookes)

In a welcome return to London after several years’ absence, acclaimed Russian pianist Boris Berezovsky opened the 2014 International Piano Series concerts at Southbank Centre with an impressive and absorbing recital of music by two of the finest composers of preludes for the piano, Debussy and Rachmaninov, interspersed with Ravel’s Gaspard de la Nuit, and Rachmaninov’s Second Piano Sonata. Opening his concert with two pieces by Debussy not included in the printed programme, rather in the manner of a nineteenth-century virtuoso, he closed with an imposing and well-judged account of Rachmaninov’s Second Piano Sonata, demonstrating an appreciation of both the scope of the music and the vastness of the country of its origin. This was an evening of pure pianism, delivered without flashy gimmicks or unnecessary gestures, just honest, committed playing of the highest order.

Read my full review here

The International Piano Series continues at the Southbank Centre

Meet the Artist……Rustem Hayroudinoff, pianist

Who or what inspired you to take up the piano and make it your career?

My father, who is a cellist and studied with Rostropovich. He wanted me and my sister to become musicians and pianists in particular – he always loved piano even more than cello, and declared: “I want my children to play the “Royal” instrument (in Russian grand piano is “Royal”)

Who or what are the most important influences on your playing?

Without any doubt, the representatives of the old Russian piano school: Rachmaninoff, Horowitz, Sofronitsky. It is very different from the “Soviet” school – it’s very vocal in its nature and its main characteristics are a deep, singing tone, exquisite phrasing, huge range of colour and the sense of perspective – well differentiated layers of sound. When the true masters like Rachmaninoff or Horowitz played, they operated not only on the level of volume, but also in space: the sounds can be placed near and far away, as in a good painting.

What have been the greatest challenges of your career so far?

Overcoming the lack of imagination, snobbery, commercialism and often incompetence of the gate-keepers in classical music industry. It is very narrow-minded, and I am convinced that if any other business were run like this, it would go bankrupt within months.

What are the particular challenges/excitements of working with an orchestra/ensemble?

The excitement is obviously making chamber music with the richest instrument of them all; the challenge is seeing eye to eye with a conductor and at times having to deal with certain dictatorial trends on his part. Also, having to come to terms with the idea that your concerto is not really what matters most to a conductor in that programme and will inevitably be under-rehearsed.

Which recordings are you most proud of?

I am only proud of some parts of my recordings. On a whole, I understand very well the film director Federico Fellini, who never watched his films once they were edited and released. When I listen, I am always painfully aware of what could have been done better. At times, the recording conditions are not at all conducive to creative music-making. The economic considerations prevail over the musical ones.

Do you have a favourite concert venue?

Not really – those are probably the ones I haven’t performed in yet.

Who are your favourite musicians?

There are many, but they are mostly in the past – not because there aren’t any talented artists out there right now, but because I enjoy hearing something that is lost nowadays, something unique. Here are just some of them: Feodor Chaliapin, Kathleen Ferrier, Maria Callas, Sergey Rachmaninoff, Vladimir Horowitz, Vladimir Sofronitsky, Ignaz Friedman, Gregor Piatigorsky, Glenn Gould; jazz musicians Ella Fitzgerald, Art Tatum, Oscar Peterson, Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen, Stephan Grapelli, Django Reinhardt, Michel Petrucciani, Michael Brecker, Keith Jarrett, Chick Corea, Dave Weckl; crooners Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jnr, Charles Aznavour; not so many among rock musicians, but most certainly Beatles and Led Zeppelin; in fusion: bassist Jaco Pastorius; in pop music: Bee Gees, Earth Wind & Fire, George Benson, Michael Jackson, Sting, Jamiroquai, etc.

I don’t love absolutely everything these artists ever did without reservation, but they all achieved something truly unique and great in their field. And I don’t mention here the great composers, of course (apart from Rachmaninoff who is mentioned as a great pianist), as those are in a totally different league altogether.

What is your most memorable concert experience?

When I played Rachmaninoff’s 3rd Concerto for my dad’s 80th birthday – I knew I made at least one person really happy.

What is your favourite music to play?

Whatever I am working on at the moment – if it hadn’t excited me, I wouldn’t have picked it up in the first place. To listen to? See above re Favourite Musicians

What do you consider to be the most important ideas and concepts to impart to aspiring musicians/students?

That music is a language and so it’s not enough just to be able to speak it – you have to use it to say something that matters. Otherwise, it is similar to a verbal incontinence.

What are you working on at the moment?

JS Bach’s English Suite No. 3, Partita No. 2 and French Overture, Liszt’s Petrarca Sonnet No. 123, Mephisto Waltz and some Etudes, Rachmaninoff’s 1st Sonata and Patrick Jonathan’s Preludes dedicated to me.

What is your idea of perfect happiness?

Being in a happy, loving relationship; staying healthy; having enough time to live a balanced life, i.e. not only working non-stop, but also taking time to see a bigger picture, going out, travelling, reading, seeing friends, etc; keeping in good shape physically; and being able to earn my living doing what I love doing best – playing the piano.

Rustem Hayroudinoff performs at St John’s Smith Square, London on Saturday 13th April in a programme including works by Bach, Liszt and Rachmaninoff. Further details here

Described by London’s Classic FM Magazine as a “sensationally gifted” musician of “stunning artistry”, Rustem Hayroudinoff graduated from the Moscow Conservatory, where he studied with Lev Naumov, and received his postgraduate degree (DipRAM) at the Royal Academy of Music in London with Christopher Elton.

On hearing his performance, Lazar Berman praised him as “a serious artist and master, whose emergence in today’s atmosphere of pseudo-artistic and shallow music-making is specially valuable and welcome”.

His performances have been broadcast on most major classical radio stations around the world and he has appeared in the documentary “The Unknown Shostakovich” alongside Vladimir Ashkenazy, Valery Gergiev and Maxim Shostakovich.

Full biography here


Concert review: Yevgeny Sudbin at Wigmore Hall

(photo: Clive Barda)

Russian pianist Yevgeny Sudbin treated the Wigmore lunchtime audience to a feast of virtuosity in a programme of works by Scarlatti, Chopin, Liszt, Scriabin and Saint-Saens.

Read my full review here

The concert was broadcast live on BBC Radio Three (repeated on Saturday 26th January) and is currently available on the BBC iPlayer via this link