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The only modern piece in the programme was dedicated to Tirimo. Giorgos Koumendakis' Daring Combinations received its first performance. Preludes one (for the left hand), two and three (Re-Approach), together with A Cormorant for Iannis Xenakis, are all very short. Symmolpa -- the harmonic consonance and simultaneous sounding of two or more voices of instruments -- is longer and more involved. One admires the diatonic, bird-like figuration in the first four, then the chromatic writing of the final number. The word 'daring', by the way, denotes the process of 'decomposition' in the context of harmony, rhythms, colour and expression. Ask me for an accurate assessment of music heard just once, and I plead for another run-through. Whether there are allegiances to Olivier Messiaen or to the Greek composers Skalkottas and Theodorakis, I cannot say. I've previously experienced difficulties listening to Xenakis's music at the Berlin Festival!

Chopin formed the recital's second half. Three Mazurkas : C sharp minor Op 50 No 3, C major Op 56 No 2 and F sharp minor Op 59 No 3. Tirimo writes of 'imaginative canons, apparent simplicity of almost diatonic writing, and the special, infectious rhythms', which expresses exactly how he played these miniature masterworks. His distinctly stylised, accented playing and, where required, fleeting, half-toned phrasing (Op 59 No 3 providing the fastest fingerwork of the evening), was a total joy.

The Scherzo in E major is the least played of Chopin's four. I like the reference to 'seriousness, solemnity and sadness' in place of any so called 'humour' or 'amusement'. Pianists all too often fall into the trap of making this proud, noble work sound a cheap, dexterous exercise. In contrast, Tirimo, with shades of Rubinstein, gave an outstanding performance, in line with his Schumann C major Fantasie, heard earlier in 2002.

Instead of the Grande Polonaise in A flat major, perhaps the Tarantella would have been a wiser choice. But we had three glorious Waltz encores, including the ever-popular A flat major.

Throughout the evening, one was consistently aware that this supreme musician placed himself entirely at the service of the composer and the printed score. The audience response to this communicator of the highest calibre was rapturous, and the queue stretching back from the Bechstein Room afterwards was the longest of the season!

Copyright © 3 January 2003 Bill Newman, Edgware, UK

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Martino Tirimo performs at various locations in the UK over the coming months :

On 23 January 2003 he plays Beethoven, Schubert and Chopin in Worcester's Huntingdon Hall. Schubert and Chopin also feature in his recitals at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow (9 February), at Hurstwood Farm (15 February) and on 14 March at Bedales School, where he'll also play music by Debussy.

On 28 March 2003 Tirimo returns to Worcestershire to play Mozart's K503 Concerto with the English Symphony Orchestra at The Forum in Malvern.

MARTINO TIRIMO IN CONVERSATION WITH BILL NEWMAN

TIRIMO PLAYS MUSIC BY CLARA AND ROBERT SCHUMANN

BILL NEWMAN'S BERLIN FESTIVAL DIARY

THE WIGMORE HALL

GIORGOS KOUMENDAKIS

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