Rhinegold LIVE announces new partnership
8 January 2016
From 2016 onwards, Rhinegold LIVE recitals will use a Bösendorfer 280 full-size concert grand supplied by Markson Pianos.
The 280 is one of Markson's two flagship grands and was acquired in 2014.
Markson Pianos have previously supplied instruments for the Music Teacher Awards for Excellence ceremony.
'As Rhinegold LIVE moves in to its third successful year, we are delighted to become associated with the Bösendorfer brand,' said Derek Smith, chairman of Rhinegold Media & Events. 'The 280 was selected for its true all-round nature, affording sensitivity in chamber accompaniment, and power and clarity in solo recital; our series comprises solo piano, opera, lieder and chamber repertoire, so the 280 is a perfect fit.'
Markson Pianos managing director Simon Markson said: 'Markson Pianos are delighted to be associated with this prestigious concert series through the provision of a fabulous new, full size Bösendorfer concert grand for each piano performance.'
The inaugural Rhinegold LIVE recital was given by Julian and Jiaxin Lloyd Webber in April 2014. Other Rhinegold LIVE performers include Nicholas McCarthy, the Allegri Quartet and Mary Bevan.
The next Rhinegold LIVE recital will take place at Conway Hall on 4 February. Jonathan Plowright will present a programme of Brahms, Chopin, Paderewski and Mozart, and the performance will be followed by a Q&A with International Piano editor Owen Mortimer. Tickets are free and include a complimentary glass of wine.
Winner takes it all
6 January 2016, Ismene Brown
Wholly cultured: Lukas Geniušas
What part does winning a competition play in building a rewarding career? The question is fiercely debated whenever the great contests come round – never more so than in the past few months with the coincidence of the Tchaikovsky, Chopin and Leeds piano competitions.
One young pianist is going about quietly succeeding, both in competitions and in building a concert reputation: among the artists presented in the Southbank Centre’s current International Piano Series is the 25-year-old Lithuanian-Russian Lukas Geniušas .
Geniušas’ track record in competitions is impressive: joint second in last year’s Tchaikovsky; second in the 2010 Chopin; and winner of that year’s Gina Bachauer Competition. Although aged only 19 when he entered the latter two, Geniušas was already a veteran of the Russian piano school. He is the third-generation scion of a piano dynasty. His mother Xenia Knorre teaches at the Moscow Conservatoire, his father Petras Geniušas has taught at the Royal Academy of Music and his grandmother Vera Gornostayeva was for 56 years a leading professor at the Moscow Conservatoire (Ivo Pogorelich was one of her students).
Gornostayeva, who died last January aged 85, was a student of Heinrich Neuhaus, the legendary tutor of Sviatoslav Richter and Emil Gilels. It felt natural, says her grandson, that she should take over supervision of his piano studies when he was 12. She transmitted to him Neuhaus’ imperative for a pianist to be ‘wholly cultured’, in literature and art as well as all kinds of music. This, says Geniusas, is really what the ‘Russian Piano School’ stands for – thought he points out that in fact, the approach was formulated by Germans and Jews, namely Neuhaus, Alexander Goldenweiser, and Samuel Feinberg.
‘My grandmother brought me up culturally,’ says Geniušas. ‘She was something of an expert in Russian literature, and she would speak about music in terms of poetry, and vice versa. This was Neuhaus’ signature style, the integration of literature and music. I think it’s helpful to have a world of the imagination, a metaphorical world of poetry in mind when speaking about music, and to apply these worlds to make music.’
Lithuanian, with German and Polish roots, Geniušas still describes himself as immersed in the Russian tradition, aiming to unite both the technical grandeur and the fantasy that has been taken for granted in that country’s pianists since the Soviet heydays of Gilels and Richter.
On entering the Tchaikovsky Competition last summer (where he was bumped put of first place by a much less experienced pianist, Dmitry Masleev), he already had a satisfactorily full diary of engagements all around the world, including the IPS recital in London. Nevertheless, the young Lithuanian explains soberly that competitions are essential in building a career these days, even given the risks of not winning: ‘You might think because I have so many engagements that I need competitions any more, and it might seem greedy for me to enter one again, but I don’t agree. Our profession requires that we keep reminding society about ourselves to get performances, which is why I enter competitions again and again. The Tchaikovsky was in fact quite a stimulus to new concerts, although I was having a busy year already, thanks to Chopin 2010. This autumn, following the Tchaikovsky, I’ve played around 25 concerts: five different concertos, two different recital programmes, three chamber concerts…’
Geniušas has changed his mind about the need for self-promotion: ‘I used to think we should be shy about being too much “out there”, but then I realised this was fake modesty, because we have to do that for the art, in a way, to put the art out there too.’ His International Piano Series recital fields a conservative programme of Beethoven, Brahms and Bartók, together with that calling-card of all Russian pianists, Prokofiev’s seventh sonata. Geniušas has described himself as a conservative of a ‘positive kind’, but he wishes he were powerful enough in the market to insist on playing his beloved Hindernith, or recent Russian piano music by Leonid Desyatnikov.
‘Desyatnikov is a dominant influence for me,’ Geniusas explains. ‘He is an exceptional personality and a fantastic talent. I’ve recorded his music – mostly the lighter side of his work. I devised a programme of three Russian contemporary composers, calling it Emancipation of Consonance, in reaction to Schoenberg’s treatise from the 1920s on the ‘emancipation of dissonance.’ It’s all about restoring melody, and about modern composers exploring their links with a classical repertoire – a Soviet popular tradition, a Russian folk tradition. It’s not easy to sell, even in Russia, and I’m not sure that the time has come for me to dictate my repertoire to international promoters. That’s a sad reality’.
IP has a pair of tickets to give away to Lucas Geniušas's recital as part of the International Piano Series on 12 January at St John’s Smith Square, London. To enter the draw, email email@example.com with the subject line "LUKAS GENIUSAS IPS" by 8 January.
January Issue Out Now!
6 January 2016
Serbian-born pianist Tamara Stefanovich, known for her
thought-provoking juxtapositions of core repertoire and contemporary works,
shares her passion for music with the power to irritate, shock and amaze; we
explore the volatile yet often fruitful relationship between composers and
their foremost interpreters; and why the wild wizardry of Vladimir Horowitz
continues to divide critics. Plus, poetry and panache at the International
Chopin Piano Competition; Jonathan Plowright challenges the status quo on
Brahms; celebrating a new generation of French pianists in London; subtlety and
excess in the music of Olivier Messiaen; how fingering can make all the
difference to communicating style and character; Warren Mailley-Smith on the
mental, emotional and physical demands of performing the complete solo piano music
of Chopin in 11 concerts; free sheet music of three miniatures by Richard
Rodney Bennett; and your chance to WIN a 50-CD box set of Vladimir Horowitz’s
unreleased live recordings!
Print – from £7.50
Digital – just £2.49
Print – from £14.50
Digital – from £8.99
Bundle – from £35.00
Personal Touch - Jonathan Plowright
6 January 2016, Jonathan Plowright
Jonathan PlowrightDiane Shaw
Brahms has always held a particular fascination for me
because of his style, the way he writes for the piano and the poetry in his
music. Also, I believe he is (after Bach) the most ‘linear’ composer: his
writing is very contrapuntal and full of hidden canons. In fact, I think his
music has everything.
The first piece of Brahms' I learnt, aged 17, was the F
minor Sonata. I am fortunate never to have really struggled with the technical
difficulties of this or of any other piece by Brahms. That is probably because
his music suits the way I play. When I was recording the Variations and Fugue on a
Theme by Handel, I looked at the autograph score online. There were a few corrections
that Brahms had made in pencil, in addition to adding some fingerings. It was
interesting to see how he must have used his hands by looking at the way he
fingered his music. I realised then that I tend to use my hands in a very
similar way to create a particular effect.
This may sound contentious, but I have rarely heard Brahms
played how I think it should be, and I constantly disappointed by people’s
perception of his music as heavy and bombastic. Pianists tend to play Brahms
with a lot of pedal, and I think this is completely wrong. In fact, if you look
closely at the score, this is not what is written Brahms put in pedal marks
specifically where he wants them. He alters the accompaniment to change the
texture, and he is constantly ‘thinning out’ the sound. Pianists seem to have
an almost pathological fear of losing a bass note, and as a result everything
gets over-pedalled. Examine the score, however, and you’ll find that whenever
there is any kind of moving bass that involves quavers or semiquavers, Brahms
jumps up an octave from the initial bass note. In other words he clears it and
thins the texture by pushing the bass up an octave (sometimes two) higher.
The next, and third, volume of my complete recordings of
Brahms’ solo piano works includes the Hungarian
Variations, Eight Klavierstucke
Op 76, 16 Waltzes, and six Klavierstucke Op
118. At the time of writing this I’m working on the fourth volume, to be
recorded in January 2016: Two Rhapsodies Op 79; two sets of Paganini
variations, the Ballades Op 10, and four Klavierstucke
Op 119. There’s a perfect example of what I mean about pedalling in the
Rhapsody Op 119, No 4, about two-thirds of the way through. A section marked pp ma ben marcato is followed 16 bars
later by a five-bar phrase with three ascending pedal Gs. Brahms asks you to
shut the pedal down even though it’s all over the same harmony – otherwise the
texture would become far too thick.
The most frequently used word in Brahms’ scores is leggiero. Look at the start of the
Intermezzo Op 119, No 3: molto piano e
leggiero: or the Intermezzo before that piano
sotto voce e dolce. At the start of the B minor Ballade (Op 10, No 4) the
music looks almost like curtains hanging down. Brahms puts two quaver rests
after the first quavers in the left hand (B naturals). Only in the last two
bars of that figure – 45 bars further on – does he finally ask for full pedal.
He makes exactly the same request in the first page of the Ballade No 2. Of
course you would use a little pedal here, but not full sustained until the
final two bars.
The pianist who I think gets closest to Brahms is Radu Lupu.
I also like a lot of what Katchen does. Katchen is the Erroll Flynn of Brahms
players, giving us a swashbuckling view of the composer! It is clear he has
thought carefully about the music, even though I would prefer a little more
I’m not sure why Brahms has been so misrepresented – I suspect
not because of any particular interpretation. Maybe it’s before over time
concert halls have become larger and pianists felt the need to fill the space;
or perhaps having played the two concertos in a way that cuts through the thick
orchestral texture, they then approached the solo music in the same manner?
However, some pianists do take a rather cavalier attitude – as if what is
written in the score is not really that important. It is as though the notes
are so beautiful they are just there to be enjoyed. That is when the piece gets
lost or is clouded by personal preference, instead of looking at what Brahms is
actually trying to say.
The third volume in Jonathan Plowright’s survey of Brahms’ complete piano music is now available on the BIS label (BIS 2127).
Plowright will perform a Rhinegold LIVE recital at London’s Conway Hall on Thursday 4 February 2016. The evening includes a drinks reception at 6.15pm followed by the performance at 7.00pm, featuring music by Brahms, Mozart, Chopin and Paderewski. Sign up for free tickets at www.rhinegoldlive.co.uk.
WIN tickets to Lukas Geniušas' recital at Southbank Centre's International Piano Series!
4 January 2016
Lithuanian-Russian piano virtuoso Lukas Geniušas makes his debut in Southbank Centre's International Piano Series
on 12 January 2016 and International Piano
has a pair of tickets to give away!
Geniušas - who features as IP
's 'one to watch' artist in the January/February issue
- will perform Beethoven's Sonata in C minor, Op.10 No.1, Brahms' Sonata No.1 in C, Op.1, Bartók's 3 Burlesques and Prokofiev's Sonata No.7 in B flat, Op.83 at St John's Smith Square in London.
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