Simon Trpceski’s first disc is long overdue and in
the end well worth waiting for. It is one of the finest debut piano
recital discs I have heard in years.
Controversially awarded second place at the 2000 World
Piano Competition in London (after playing a superbly dramatic Prokofiev
Third Piano Concerto) he has become one of the most inspirational young
pianists currently playing before the public. Not only does he command
an incandescent technique, he also demonstrates unfailing understanding
at the keyboard, attributes which should go hand-in-hand but rarely
do. His performance of Pletnev’s virtuosic transcription of Tchaikovsky’s
ballet suite, for example, is not only flawlessly played but given a
performance of enormous sensibility. As I wrote of his June 2001 Wigmore
Hall debut where he performed this work, Trpceski "possesses a
magical touch - moments such as the Dance of the Sugar-Plum Fairy
and the Russian and Chinese Tea Dances had feather-light
touch and delicate phrasing. The Intermezzo inspired Trpceski
to moments of ecstatic lyricism, which almost suggested harp-like textures".
It is exactly the same here – although there is perhaps even more magic
to the touch and a balminess to the mood which the Wigmore performance
At that recital he played Prokofiev’s Seventh Sonata;
here we have the Sixth. That performance of the Seventh was marked by
incandescent phrasing and a fabulously clean technique, along with a
potent lyricism. His performance of the Sixth, a work which has received
some extraordinary performances on record, is similarly impressive:
the opening of the vivace, for example, is glitteringly done
with light finger strokes painting a Prokofievian sound world almost
orchestral in texture. Where some pianists can make this movement sound
overly percussive, even pedantic, Trpceski gives it a breathtaking clarity.
He dazzles, as Pogorelich does in his famous recording of the piece,
but does so without the latter’s mannerisms. Trpceski’s is selfless
virtuosity of a rare kind.
His performance of Scriabin’s Fifth Sonata is feverish,
idiomatically played and scrupulously detailed in marking out dynamics.
If not quite equal to Horowitz or Gilels, who both brought a particular
authority to this music, it is certainly a performance of distinction.
He certainly invests the sonata with the colour and visionary brilliance
which are its hallmarks.
There is no doubt that Simon Trpceski is an important
young artist, fiery and poetic in equal measure. A recent recital, of
Brahms and Liszt, showed how deep his understanding has become. I hope
EMI will now record him in this repertoire.