Arts Global

20 April 2014

Konstantin Soukhovetski: Recent South African Tour

South African Tour

19 Feb: Concert with Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra -- Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 24

20 Feb: Repeat concert JPO

22 Feb: Recital -- Unisa Pretoria

25 Feb: Recital -- White River

2 March: Recital -- Pietermaritzburg

5 March: Recital -- Knysna

13 March: Recital -- Port Elizabeth

16 March: Concert with Eastern Cape Philharmonic Orchestra -- Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue

22 March: Recital -- Hermanus



Konstantin, Orthodox by name: unorthodox in style!

(At the head of a Cape Times book review page on Friday 7th March, appeared an opening gambit)

by Colin Lang

8th March, 2014

"Sometimes we want to dress up, sometimes to wear silly shoes or all the beads in the world!" This seemed coincidentally true for our recitalist’s presentation and attire on the 5th March for the Knysna/Plett concert series. The glitter was at once a merry, pleasing change of style linked to his unstressed voice and body language before his audience, hardly concealing his masterful and serious musicianship and superlative piano technique.

The twin figures from Robert Schumann’s Carnaval Suite, “Pantalon and Columbine” came to mind, sparkling and bravura, as in the music’s scintillating counterpoint in the segment. This levity of Harlequinade did not detract one whit from the awareness that we were being privileged once again to be exposed to one of the international scene’s celebrity artists.

At the start of Soukhovetski’s recital, surprised as we were by joy, we heard the most authoritative account of J.S. Bach’s Prelude and Fugue in C Sharp Minor, the fourth of Book One. He displayed a balance of weight and sound from both hands, and both brain hemispheres, music which he had intimately made his own. The haunting melodic line of the prelude, smoothly and singingly played ,with wrapt absence of undue tempo variation or tonal force, led on to the enunciation of the several voices of the Fugue, to the progressive but restrained animation of the five parts, without over emphasis , barring the last bass entry, clearly Bach’s own intention. The great Bach ‘savant’ Prof. D. Tovey, writes of the fact that Beethoven himself played the sustained chord and diminuendo at the close of the Fugue, in the way we heard it now.

This underlines that Beethoven was no stranger to the potency of the key of C Sharp Minor, a tonality to convey both mystery and drama. Appropriately, the next piece was this composers Fantasia sonata in the same key, Opus 27 No 2, tagged in some nocturnal lunacy, the “Moonlight Sonata”. At a recent master class Andras Schiff, declared that the work was revolutionary from start to preconceived climax: the brooding repetitive triplet figure and dotted octaves, a meditative prelude to a diverting minuetto- form interlude, leading to the precipitate ascending arpeggios culminating in sforzando reiterated chordal exclamations, interspersed with pensive almost neurotic spread chords: the hammer blows recur before a quasi- cadenza of sonic confusion and a classic Beethoven peremptory cadence close. Soukhovetski accomplished all this with non-anxious mastery of the Beethoven idiom and intention, with no clichés in the opening Adagio movement, ascending to the nerve wracking climaxes of the finale, unusually, playing the descending recitative-like passage after the climax, as a rapid sequence rather than the usual ritenuto descent. Altogether he found just the right spread of tonal strengths for each of the movements, creating fresh impact for so familiar a concert item.

We were transported to W.A. Mozart’s beguiling D Minor Fantasia, familiar to school going attempts at playing it, but here transformed by wizardry of articulation and subtlety of nuance. There was healing balm in this music, after the Sturm en Drang, too intangible for words, except that Konstantin knew how to apply the salve.

We had been, as expected, exposed to the requisite encounter with the post-modern, in the piano transcription of Philip Glass’s “Hours” Suite. The sheer feat of memory for the myriad repetitive figures and ejaculatory outbursts was riveting but utterly strange a musical language at first hearing. It left a visual imprint on the brain of the 20th century glass and steel twin towers, translucent but opaque, awaiting catastrophic fracturing.

Then came the manifestation of the artist as brilliant virtuoso interpreter of Franz Liszt’s, “Vallee d’Obermann”. As can be imagined from the substance of what we had already heard, this great technical hurdle was leapt with aplomb by the recitalist, making the Abbe Liszt into a primitive existentialist in both the sombre and the explosive, in ideas and musical form.

The ultimate revelation of Konstantin Soukhovetski as foremost musician came in his performance of his own eloquent transcription of the music of Richard Strauss’s last opera “Capriccio”. In this it was palpable that he made the transcriptions and paraphrases of the Abbe Liszt sound trivial and unidiomatic, by means of entirely pianistic forms and phraseology that betrayed no suggestion of a mere translation from one genre to another.

The display of crossed arm precision and scintillating, pianissimo trills and passage work in the extreme treble, to emphatic runs and chords in the bass parts, was overwhelming in expression. As in much of Strauss the embryo melodic themes get stifled by overlay of harmonic and rhythmic shifts, so equally, in this it was a challenge to keep a rational sense of the pertinent dialogue implied in the music drama, glorious as the wide compass was; lasting a good twenty minutes of seemingly effortless control and output of immaculate technique. Undeterred, the artist, with enormous generosity, returned to a standing and prolonged ovation, to perform a transcription of music from an opera of Giuseppe Verdi, this being both a Strauss and a Verdi anniversary year. [A review by Colin Lang, 8th March, 2014.]


Artistically Versatile, Brilliant!!

Beeld Newspaper
Reviewed by Paul Boekkooi

Recital Unisa 22 February 2014

In contrast with his performance of Mozart’s Piano Concerto no 24 with the JPO, which was loaded with external meaning, cadenzas and at times forced ornaments, Konstantin Soukhovetski with his solo concert left an artistically versatile impression.

Pianists seldom reach out to JS Bach and Phillip Glass but in the case of each of the six included composers, the outwardly somewhat exhibitionistic pianist left something special for the collective spirit of his audience. It included his transcription of the Countesses Monologue from of the final scene of the Richard Strauss Capriccio.

He opened with Bach’s Prelude and Fuge in C Sharp from Das Woltemperierte Clavier Book 1. It was one of the most solefull examples of the 48 and was played with tension in every note.

At times it reminded of Edwin Fischer’s legendary interpretation with nuances, interesting articulations, and suitable alteration between legato and staccato. Beneath the surface shelters an infallible insight in cordial construction of the counterpoint of the prelude and fugue.

Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata no 14 in C Sharp according to the own program notes of Soukhovetski has to do with the “cryptic mystery”. Apart from a few mannerismly placed accents in this composition, the pianist’s playing was concentrated and refined, with especially the Allagretto which reached a rare level of receptiveness.

In Mozart’s Fantasy d K397 each of its subsections was strongly characterised and mercifully never over romanticised. Phrases could breath expansively and the contours were sharply noted in a classical idiom. Brilliant!

In Liszt’s programmatic works such as Vallée d’Obermann much more has to happen than just the portrayal of an unbroken series of neck breaking notes. Soukhovetski has all this in his arsenal and similarly also offers glimpses of his ability to portray the subliminal literary meanings.

In the aforementioned Richard Strauss, it was evident how much of Liszt’s art of transcription the pianist applied. In his interpretation of the extensive vocal monologue which had to be captured in a comparable piano idiom, Strauss’ lyrical virtuosity was still present.

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