Tuesday, 10 October 2017


The "giraffe" (and swan) piano at
Hamburg's Museum of Art & Craft

DAY 5: Wednesday (23 August 2017)

Took a day-trip to Hamburg, a mere two-and-a-half hour ride away. Only had time time to visit two museums – the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe (Museum for Art and Craft) and the Kunsthalle, both walking distance from the Hamburg Hauptbahnhof. If there were just one item from each museum to view, that would be the “giraffe piano” at the MfKG and Caspar David Friedrich's Wanderer in the Sea of Clouds at the KH, German Romanticism at its most definitive. Now, to find those Schubert Wanderer Fantasy recordings with that on the cover. Alas, there was no longer any time to visit the Elbephilharmonie. Perhaps the next time…

Recital 6 (7.30 pm )

The young Italian virtuoso looks suspiciously like Andrei Gavrilov circa 2000, with his unshaven appearance, tinted glasses and hair pulled back into a tail but minus the bling. Thankfully he plays far better, and his recital of four Russian sonatas continues along the trajectory started by Hamelin's Feinberg and Vlaeva's Bortkiewicz. 

I've never heard of the short-lived Dmitri Blagoy (1930-1986), but his engaging Marchen-Sonate (1958), overflowing with thematic ideas reminds one of Medtner, as its title suggests. Speaking of Medtner, Glazunov's underrated Sonata No.2 (1901) could very well have influenced him, especially in its working on short motives and cyclical nature. Given Maltempo's superb reading, I'd sooner hear this than Tchaikovsky's interminable Sonata in G or Rachmaninov's overplayed Second Sonata.

I do not like to use the word derivative, as it reeks of being ersatz or a copycat. However, when composers draw inspiration from older colleagues (such as Brahms following after Beethoven and Schumann), it becomes far more acceptable. Thus hearing Alexander Stanchinsky's E flat minor Sonata, which takes after Scriabin's brand of volatile and often violent pianism, becomes an extension of something familiar, which is almost comforting. 

Similarly, the Ukrainian Victor Kosenko's rich harmonies with undercurrents of turmoil and upheaval reminds the listener of Rachmaninov. In the slow movement of his Second Sonata, I think of Fauré and York Bowen while the coruscating finale flies like the wind of Rachmaninov's First Sonata. Maltempo plays with a natural ease that is unnerving.

His encores are a mix of rarity and familiarity: Misha Levitzki's Arabesque Valsante, the Vecsey-Cziffra Valse Triste, Tchaikovsky's Meditation (Op.72 No.5) and Falla's Ritual Fire Dance. Just wonderful.

Festival Director Peter Froundjian and his wife Annette
kindly swapped seats with me so I could get a
ringside view of the piano recital.
Richter und "Richter":
Elisabeth Richter is pleased to meet Husum resident
Willem Warnaars, who is a doppelgänger
of Sviatoslav Richter.

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