POINT COUNTERPOINT Events from August to December 2017

Published 21 December 2017  Review


Chronicle of events from August to December 2017

by Christopher Axworthy, Co-Artistic Director

On 16th August, Martyna Kazmierczak gave a highly successful fortepiano recital, with a programme of Mozart, Haydn, Bach and Fasch, at St Cecilia’s Hall in Edinburgh as part of the Edinburgh Festival and the Trust’s Historic Keyboard Series managed by my Co-Artistic Director, Elena Vorotko.

Martyna commented: ‘All went great in Edinburgh – there was a really good audience and the atmosphere was inspiring. The hall is splendid! The instrument had a beautiful sound that was carried to the end of the hall although there is still a lot of work to be done on it: the checks were very moody so some phrasing was rather difficult to achieve.  But overall, I guess it sounded nice and from what I heard after the recital, the audience liked it a lot.’

She can also be heard in conversation with Elena Vorotko and performing in a podcast on the KCT website. (http://keyboardtrust.org/podcasts/2017/01/martyna-kazmierczak-performs-on-the-fortepiano/)

It was good to see our founding fathers once again following the Busoni Competition in Bolzano in August and being able to listen — in only ten days — to some of the most remarkable pianists from all over the world. Alexander Romanovsky, Michail Lifits, Emanuel Rimoldi, Rodolfo Leone, Galina Chistiakova, Bolai Cao and Chloe Mun are just a few of the recent Busoni competitors who have subsequently been able to benefit from the KCT’s support.

The KCT offers a Career Development Prize to the winner of the Busoni Competition and also support to some of the other superlative talents that are identified during the biennial competition.

The winner this year was a young Croatian pianist, Ivan Krpan, only twenty years old, and noted from the beginning for his natural musicality. He will play for the Trust at Steinway Hall on 28th November 2018. Another pianist identified this year, from the Korea National University of the Arts, was nineteen year old Eunseong Kim whose progress we are following with keen interest. He studied at the KNUA with Daejin Kim and Minsoo Sohn. Coincidentally, Chloe Mun who played for us in June this year, studies at the same university.

Here is Eunseong’s modest reply from our meeting with him after the Busoni competition’s final prize winner’s concert.

‘Thank you for your encouragement and support at the Busoni International Competition in Italy. I am going to improve my musical skills … and will work harder than before. I give glory and praise to God through my music, I hope that people will be comforted and encouraged by my performance. I hope to become a pianist to share love and joy together and communicate the message of communication and unity. Thank you again for your encouragement and interest. I hope to see you again in a more matured and developed form ….’ (19th September, 2017)

Here is a link to my blog about the Busoni Competition: https://christopheraxworthymusiccommentary.wordpress.com/2017/09/02/the-busoni-competition-all-the-fun-of-the-circus/




In October, Alexander Ullman was unanimously declared winner of the Liszt Utrecht Competition. Having already won the Liszt Bartók Competition at the age of twenty, he now, at twenty six, joins two other winners from previous years and fellow KCT artists Vitaly Pisarenko and Mariam Batsashvili.

Mariam Batsashvili was recently chosen to be a BBC Young Generation Artist and it was she who played for the KCT in September in Monterrey and Torreon in Mexico. Here is what Jorge Gallegos of the Sala Beethoven in Monterrey had to say:

‘She is definitely a major talent and great artist. I don’t know the policy of the Keyboard Trust for a repeat engagement, I will love to invite her next year. Thank you for your concern about the earthquake, it was big and damaging … full recovery will take months, maybe years. I will send you some reviews later on.’

We await the reviews but, in the meantime, Mariam went on to play for the Trust on our USA tour which included a performance as part of the late Lorin Maazel’s Castleton Festival in Virginia, and in Delaware, Philadelphia and New York, finishing in Washington in an important new venue at the home of Gwendolyn Van Paasschen.

Here is Burnett Thompson, the Concert Manager’s report from Castleton:

‘I heard one of the most astonishing solo concerts of my life this afternoon. Mariam Batsashvili, a 24-year old Georgian pianist played Bach, Liszt and Chopin with such a deep understanding of the music that I felt like Liszt was speaking to us directly. I have heard many wonderful concerts in Castleton’s beautiful 140-seat hall — Emanuel Ax, Yefim Bronfman, Issac Stern, José Carreras, Pepe Romero, some of the most brilliant musicians in the world — and this concert stood out even among those masters. She received the most enthusiastic audience ovation that any of us can remember. An overwhelming performance of Bach, Liszt and Chopin for a packed house. Many thanks to Sarah Biggs, Christopher Axworthy and The Keyboard Charitable Trust for their invaluable partnership.’

And from Washington:

‘Just to report a hugely successful recital by Mariam in Gwendolyn Van Paaschen’s beautiful home in Washington last night. Bach, Chopin & Liszt played with great passion, sensitivity, power and delicacy — greeted by a standing ovation by the audience of about 50 which included members of Congress, Embassy representatives, one or two local concert promoters (I have hopes of connecting with ‘Jerome’ who runs an ‘Embassy Concert series’), Burnett from Castleton and some local dignitaries. Mariam is a total joy — thoughtful, serious and fun — and was mobbed at the post-concert reception. She heads off today for an overnight flight followed by performances in Weimar and Hamburg in the next couple of days.’ (Sarah Biggs)

Here is a link to a local Washington review of Mariam’s recital:                                                                                                 http://www.thegeorgetowndish.com/thedish/meet-mariam-batsashvili

And here were my first observations of Mariam’s recital at Wigmore Hall last January:



Rudi Bodenese






On 18th October Pablo Rossi gave a remarkable recital in Buenos Aires at Martha Noguera’s Chopin Festival. Forty Brazilians followed him to this new KCT venue in Argentina and he thanked them by playing the Gottchalk arrangement of the Brazilian national anthem. He was immediately re engaged for next year’s festival.


This Autumn, there were three Steinway Hall ‘auditions’ in London:


Alexander Gadjiev



27th September: Alexander Gadjiev




25th October: Martin Ivanov — ‘impeccable style’ in Noretta Conci’s own words.





22nd November on Saint Cecilia’s Day: Umberto Laureti in Steinway Hall and a remarkable organ recital by




Nicholas Freestone at the Temple Church in an important series instigated by our distinguished Trustee, Sir Geoffrey Nice QC.





Florian Heinisch gave four recitals in Hamburg in November (7th, 9th, 22nd and 29th) organised by Moritz von Bredow, a KCT Trustee and manager of most of the KT’s concerts in Germany.

Moritz commented:

‘Florian Heinisch performed four recitals at Hamburg’s Augustinum and Steinway Hall, then at The City of Hamburg’s representation in Berlin, and finally a charity recital for Hamburg’s deaconship Hospice. He started with Bartók’s highly difficult Piano Sonata, an excellent opening that demonstrated Florian’s most remarkable standing as a pianist and musician. His sense of rhythm is superb, one of the best I have known in a long, long time. His sound, combining colours from orchestral forte to singing pianissimo, is exquisitely controlled, and he keeps tension at all times. Mozart’s variations ‘Ein Weib ist das herrlichste Ding’ (‘A woman is the most wonderful thing’) of Mozart’s last year, 1791, is hardly ever performed. The difficulty of this cycle of variations lies in the delicacy of the theme, Mozart’s tonal language and the obvious similarity of the faster variations. Florian played them simply beautifully, superbly prepared and with great sense also for the variations in minor keys which he never gave too slow a drive, thus keeping them away from becoming kitsch and sugary. His use of pedals was, like always, ideal. Someone in Berlin’s audience said: ‘How long has he studied in Vienna to play such Mozart?’ What a great compliment!

To end the recital Florian played Beethoven’s Sonata op.111, c minor, his last work, written in complete deafness. Florian’s performance was absolutely breathtaking and very deeply moving. The opening theme, under strict and thus rarely exposed rhythmic control, became a key to his understanding of Beethoven’s mysticism, his clarity, his being apart from the world, his visionary modernity. Then followed the Allegro con brio ed appassionato — and Florian really gave life to this passion. He never exaggerated, he stuck to rhythm and metre and found an expression at the highest musical and pianistic level. The Arietta, Adagio molto Semplice e cantabile, became an example of a most silent, yet pulsating meditation that finally led to a great dance, almost a boogie-woogie/rag time jazzy swing that was of great joy and intensity. The final coda, in Florian’s playing almost impressionist in mood and beautifully anticipating Beethoven’s ‘Ode to Joy’ (bar 80) in the left hand, was absolutely incredible, and thus Florian gave great honour not only to Beethoven but also to the Keyboard Trust. Deepest silence, long lasting, in all 4 venues! Standing ovation at Steinway Hall!

Florian Heinisch has grown into a most musical, outstanding artist whose ability in rhythmic control, reflections of sounds and tonal shades and dynamic ranges have propelled him into the league of really great young pianists.’

Iyad Sughayer played at the Bechstein Centrum Frankfurt on 15th November. Long-standing and valued KCT friends and concert organisers, Sibylle and Patrick Rabut, wrote:

‘We really want to thank the Keyboard Trust to have sent us another outstanding pianist. Iyad was wonderful and had the most positive comments from our guests, enthusiastic about the program and splendid performance, comparing him to Trifonov and really possessing his Mozart. A lady with a very good music knowledge said to Iyad that the way he touches the piano he should play Debussy. We had the pleasure to accompany him today as well, Patrick showing him around Frankfurt. We enjoyed his company and his wonderful personality and view of life in relation to his background. We can only agree with Moritz’s “glowing report” and are very happy to have realized another successful concert.’

On 16th November, Artem Yasynskyy gave a recital and masterclass in Cyprus for the Pharos Arts Foundation in Garo Keheyan’s remarkable Shoe Factory. The Artistic Director, Yvonne Georgiadou wrote after the concert:

‘This is a short note to say that Artem has really been wonderful and we would like to thank the KCT once again for giving Pharos the opportunity to present such a unique pianist. The audience loved him. His sense of phrasing of musicianship is really unique. As I said to him afterwards, “he really sings the piano”. He was truly great in everything he performed, and even more so in Szymanowski and Prokofiev — it was like the works were written for him. And he is also a great guy. Shame his visit was so short …’

Artem Yasynskyy also gave a recital for the Teatime Classics Series in Hamburg’s historic Laeiszhalle. Moritz von Bredow was moved to write:’

Artem Yasynskyy performed a beautiful programme on November 25th in the long established Tea Time Classics series at Hamburg’s beautiful Laeiszhalle. He opened with Bach’s Partita in G, BWV 829 — a well-chosen and rarely played work where Artem demonstrated his phenomenal skills as an interpreter of Baroque Music: crisp, crystal clear and of good rhythmic control. Beautiful non legato in contrast to accentuated legato! His Bach is truly alive, dancing, dreaming, flowing — great and well understood performance! Then followed three pieces by Ravel, all of which showed Artem’s ideal disposition as an impressionist interpreter. “A la manière de Chabrier” almost made you dance — a multitude of colours and shade, perfectly pedalled and with great inspiration. Artem finished with a most majestic Appassionata by Beethoven … Beautiful encores: Scarlatti and Britten. STRONG performance. Raving applause! Most beautiful is Artem’s use of the left hand which he uses completely independently of his right hand: a strong ground for all he does, unfailingly present and never inappropriate. Very impressive!’

On 18th November, Ilya Kondratiev gave an excellent recital the Glasgow Art Club (a new venue for us) and will play in the MC / KCT’s second annual series with the Principals of Manchester Camerata – in Manchester – at the beginning of February 2018.

Here is a piece I wrote about a recent performance by Ilya at a more local, London, concert in October.


The annual Liszt Society Day, in a long-established collaboration with the KCT, took place on 25th November. The Day opened with a magnificent recital by Edward Leung and this was followed by their annual competition of which he was a top prize winner last year.

Tyler Hay last year’s first prize winner was generously present to see the young Japanese pianist Keishi Suzuki run off with top prize this year. He will consequently be helped by the KCT in the near future.

Mark Viner will be performing at the annual KCT Prizewinner’s Wigmore Hall recital on 2nd March 2018, having performed all over Italy for the KCT during January 2018. PLEASE JOIN US FOR THIS SPECIAL CELEBRATION. Tickets are available from: https://wigmore-hall.org.uk/whats-on/mark-viner-201803021930. The concert will be in memory of Bill Newman, a generous benefactor to the KCT.

It should be mentioned that Mark Viner was voted chairman of the Liszt Society at the Annual General Meeting. Already at his young age he is President of the Alkan Society. He and Leslie Howard are the world’s authorities on Liszt and Alkan.

Here is my report of the Liszt Society Day:


(c) Andreea Tufescu Photography


On 20th February 2017, Vitaly Pisarenko will give the first recital in what we hope will become a prestigious new venue for the Trust: the Parliament Chamber at the Temple in London. (This recital was initiated and encouraged by Sir Geoffrey Nice QC, a KCT Trustee and member of Temple Garden Chambers.) Do join us if you can: https://www.templemusic.org/shop/keyboard-charitable-trust/




Three extraordinary recitals over the past months by ‘emeriti’ KCT artists may be of interest:

  • 29th October: Alessandro Taverna in October at the Filarmonica in Rome.


  • 21st October: Jayson Gillham for the Bloomsbury Festival at Conway Hall.


  • 8th November: Stefano Greco at St. Cecilia in Rome.


               Sasha Grynyuk

Mention should also be made of the podcasts that Sasha Grynyuk (in collaboration with my co-Artistic Directors, Elena Vorotko and Leslie Howard), have created and which can now be viewed on the KCT website. These feature interviews with Alexander Ullman, Evgeny Genchev, Martina Kazmierczak (harpsichord) and Iyad Sughayer, Jean Rondeau and Mark Viner. (http://keyboardtrust.org/podcasts/)

Best wishes to everyone for a very happy Christmas and an excellent 2018!

 Christopher Axworthy, Co-Artistic Director and Trustee

December 2017

Christopher Axworthy


Alexander Ullman United Kingdom
Iyad Sughayer Jordan
Martin Ivanov Bulgaria
Ivan Krpan Croatia
Sasha Grynyuk Ukraine
Nicholas Freestone United Kingdom
Artem Yasynskyy Ukraine
Mark Viner United Kingdom
Pablo Rossi Brazil
Edward Leung United Kingdom