This noteworthy recital, the first
of four concerts dedicated to new Generation Artists Day, showcased
some of the most exciting young talent to have emerged in recent years.
so often reviewed in these pages, and now on the threshold of a major
international career, began proceedings with what is almost becoming
his calling card, Pletnev’s arrangement of suites from the Nutcracker.
Allied with an incandescent technique,
and a formidable imagination, Trpceski played these excerpts with balletic
panache. Keyboard control was as secure as ever with sudden pianissimos
evolving from thunderous fortes, and his pedalling opened up
clustered chords like a chrysilis. Moments such as the ‘Sugar-Plum Fairy’
had a snappiness and spring to the playing, whilst the closing ‘Pas-de-Deux’
produced genuinely poetic playing. He returned to the platform to partner
the Chinese/Australian cellist Liwei
in Stravinsky’s Suite Italienne from Pulcinella. Liwei
Qin possesses a beautiful, if somewhat small, sound and he made much
of the more introspective moments of the suite, but this was a routine
performance which did little to rescue the work’s over-worked beauties.
More interesting were four excerpts
from Prokofiev’s Romeo & Juliet, arranged for viola and piano.
partnered by Simon Crawford-Phillips,
brought a genuine sense of pathos to the ‘Death of Juliet’, a spacious
reading which showed off Power’s tonal lustre perfectly. His tone is
often massive, and whether intended or not, he often over-powered his
accompanist. Unfashionably, and rather like Celibidache used to do in
concert performances of these ballet arrangements, Power placed the
scherzo that is ‘Mercutio’ after the tranquillity of Juliet’s death.
True, it brings the suite to a rip-roaring close, but artistically it
is a mess. More problematically, I wonder whether the viola is right
for this transcription – much of it would sound better on the ‘cello.
gave a dazzling performance of three scenes from Petrushka. Melnikov
is a virtuoso in the truest sense of the word, with a technique that
recalls Cziffra, but he also possesses, like Trpceski, an absolute sense
of keyboard control. If at times he over-projected he masterminded a
performance that had huge dynamic range. This performance spiralled
like a tornado, but, with some of the cleanest articulation imaginable,
he never let the virtuosity overwhelm the balance of the work. Glissandi
were thrillingly done, whilst his pedalling melted the vast bass-line
chords with bell-like clarity. The briefest of notes about the performers
informed us that Melnikov holds a pilot’s license. Given the tenacious
brilliance of this performance I assume it is a license for a jet fighter.