When an excellent instrument finds an excellent performer who can understand, experiment and extract the best out of it, the result is powerful. Yesterday our lovely Yamaha C5L piano, which is sweetly voiced by our technician to suit our concert room, found a perfect owner. Romanian/British pianist Florian Mitrea demonstrated his artistry and interpretation of Haydn, Debussy and Liszt, all to be admired by the Breinton concert attendees.
Haydn Sonata in E flat major, which Florian said he often liked to start his programmes with, was performed with a compelling technical command and varied tonalities throughout the three movements. There was a contrast between the wizardry movements and still calmness, and the pleasant discipline in playing while never failing to show the sense of playfulness and spontaneity.
A selection of four of Debussy’s Preludes followed. Atmospheric and picturesque, Florian conveyed a beautiful transition from the pianissimo to fortissimo passages and back, its full-bodied expression and chords were much appreciated in La Cathedral Engloutie. Feux d’artifice was three-dimensional, instilling a feeling and sense of distance.
From Haydn to Debussy there had been a complete switch in the mood, and then again even a grander dramatic change to Liszt’s Mephisto Waltz. This ferociously devilish piece of music tends to lose pianists’ control and invite panic; when this happens, the performance turns into a competition of “who can play faster and louder”. Florian had a good grip of the piece, kept it cool, and maintained superb precision. Rather than battling his way violently through the technical challenges, he focused on the story-telling side and introduced a rich variety of sound layers and textures. It was wonderful to find some breath-taking poetic moments in this tempestuous work. Powerful but not over-powering, the Mephisto Waltz flourished at its best at Breinton.
When Florian returned for an encore, many (including me) imagined it would be a calm piece such as Chopin’s Nocturne or Schubert’s Impromptu. How wrong we were. Liszt’s Grande Etude de Paganini No. 2 was a complete surprise, albeit a good one which took the audience by storm.