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I know that the subject of this article, Martino Tirimo, agrees with me. Born in Larnaca, Cyprus, he was a pupil at the Royal Academy in London and the Vienna State Academy. He has since toured widely, following his London début in 1965, but I remember vividly the series of recordings of Schubert sonatas for BBC Radio 3 which brought his playing to my attention. His Brahms and Rachmaninov concerti for EMI came next, then the complete solo Debussy for Carlton Classics and two Chopin concertos for BMG/Conifer. Most recently we heard the highly-praised and magnificent complete Schubert sonatas for EMI-Eminence. Television viewers in the UK would also have enjoyed the relay of Tippett's Piano Concerto from Coventry Cathedral. A commercial recording was also made by Nimbus under the composer's direction.

Martino Tirimo. Photo © Nicos Louca
Martino Tirimo. Photo © Nicos Louca

Basically, Tirimo appears at first as a non-assuming artist. Academy colleagues told me Tirimo was 'one of them, yet not indulging in the romantic frivolities of certain students'. Serious, studious, but kind and welcoming overall, he looked and acted the same then as he does now. Perhaps we can read from this that he succeeded professionally in a greater way than several others, later on. I don't know if this is correct, but what is apparent is the thoroughness of preparation in his presentation of concerts and recordings.

The phenomenon of artists writing their own notes is now accepted, but Tirimo's programme notes for the 32 Beethoven piano sonatas and for the piano music of Robert and Clara Schumann -- for recitals at St John's Smith Square and the Wigmore Hall in London -- didn't just cover the historical background and musical insights for works he performed. Complementing this was a realistic, visionary impression of composers at work -- their style of writing, methods and approach, with a contemporary appreciation of the times. Something similar, perhaps, to the professional articles by musicologists Samuel Langford, George Bernard Shaw, Ernest Newman and Neville Cardus, which enriched our permanent interest in a whole compendium of good music.

Tirimo's playing belongs to a past generation of 'greats'. Listening to him, I conjure up aural images of Solomon, Arrau, Kempff, Serkin, Schnabel and Backhaus, with their authority and complete reverence to the urtext and, in addition, their individual 'personality' permeating the music's phraseology, changes of pulse, dynamics and emphases. Like those wonderful performers, there are no extraneous gestures during rendition; just the occasional marked definition of a special dramatic effect or poetic ending, where the composer wishes it.

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Copyright © 3 January 2003 Bill Newman, Edgware, UK


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