Another hugely successful evening at Breinton; Katya Apekisheva gave a splendid performance to our full-house crowd. She was phenomenal, so exquisite and exceptional. I believe I am not the only one who was deeply impressed by quality of her sound – it showed many colours and different tones. Clarity, subtlety, sharpness and warmth, all of them expressed effectively throughout her performance.
Her programme was carefully put together with contrasting pieces. The first half consisted of my much-loved Schubert Sonata in A minor and Schumann's Kinderszenen. Schubert was a leading exponent of the early Romantic era, and Schumann, one of the greatest and most representative composers of the Romantic era. I felt so lucky to have heard both of those Romantic composers' works at Breinton this evening.
According to the Making Music programme notes, Schubert composed 19 piano sonatas; this particular one is my absolute favourite. I love the dramatic opening movement of the first movement with its strong chords. Katya started this piece very dynamically, without any hesitation, which indicated that I could fully trust her playing and ability. To me, this is a very important factor when I listen to a performer because if I sense any insecurity then I cannot fully engage myself in listening. The absolutely wonderful first movement was followed by the second in rondo form. This is my favourite movement of this Sonata '“ the opening theme of which has a striking resemblance to the finale of Schubert"s A major sonata, D959. The lyrical theme was played so sweetly but what struck me most was Katya"s way of playing staccato chordal accompaniment in the D minor section. It was consistent and so subtly performed so that the beautiful right hand melody stood out. Awesome!
The next piece, Schumann"s Kinderszenen was many peoples" favourite. As Schumann described these scenes of an adult"s recollection of youth "peaceful, tender and happy", we were all reminiscing of our own childhood (except of course for the children in the audience!). In the first scene Of foreign lands and people, a familiar and beautiful theme was heard over the gentle accompaniment of broken chords. Katya"s keyboard touch was absolutely gentle, surrounding the audience with comforting sounds. Traumerei was also so beautiful. This very recognizable piece is so often played, but not this beautifully. It was absolutely the best I have ever heard.
Katya started the second half of the evening with the contemporary piece titled Halo by living Bulgarian composer Dobrinka Tabakova. The composer herself commented that her inspiration came from a beautiful halo which had formed around the moon one summer"s night. Katya did something very unusual to create some amazing sound effects '“ she rested her left arm on the keyboard without making a sound which lifted the damper up so that it created resonation. Unfortunately, from where I was seated I could not see the keyboard, so I was wondering how she did that amazing trick! Several members reported afterwards that they particularly enjoyed this piece.
Then Mussorgsky"s most famous piano composition, Pictures at an Exhibition; it was grand and majestic. This suite is an imaginary tour of an art collection. The musical material was based on ten drawings and watercolours by Mussorgsky"s friend, the artist Victor Harman. Each movement has its own character and colours, but recently I have become interested in the Promenades, that is, the walks through the gallery. Each act of walking has a different pace and style, varying the mood, colour and key in each to suggest a reflection on the work just seen or an anticipation of a new work just glimpsed. Katya showed contrasts in each of them; it was fun to imagine the footsteps of the composer taking us through this imaginary art tour. The finale, The Great Gate of Kiev, was absolutely grand.
It was a special evening for all of us at Breinton. Katya"s bold and confident playing matched with her superb technique and artistic expression was so impressive. Many members reported that they thoroughly enjoyed Katya"s performance, which is exactly what I wanted to hear of course! She will be repeating the same programme at Wigmore Hall on 22nd December. If you have a chance, please go!