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To join them, I wish to nominate Ali Hirèche, the twenty-seven-year-old who was born in Paris on 26 November 1976. Four teachers guided his path to fame: Antonio Ruis-Pipò -- a pupil of Alfred Cortot, Riccardo Risaliti in Milan, Boris Petrushansky at Imola Academy and Vincenzo Balzani. At present he is attending the Fondazione per il Pianoforte in Cadenabbia. Concerts in Italy and Paris are complemented by series of international prizes and commercial recordings for Agorà.

Young French pianist Ali Hirèche
Young French pianist Ali Hirèche

What I admire most about Ali is his modesty. During his demanding programme on 1 October 2003, there were none of the extraneous movements that detract from the quality of the musicmaking. Naturalness of phrasing and touch was communicated directly to the listener in Bach's Prelude and Fugue in C sharp minor from book 1, while Mozart's Sonata in A minor K310 reminded me of Lipatti in its direct, singing clarity. Two excerpts from Berio's Six Encores were followed by a stunning account of Prokofiev's Sonata No 6 that rivalled Richter and Gilels.

Ali's father kindly sent on to me two further live recitals: for his Premio Assicurazione Generali al Concorso Pianistico Nazionale 'Premio Venezia 1999' prize I listened to Bach's Fantasia and Fugue BWV904, Haydn's Sonata H XVI No 32, Brahms's Paganini Variations books 1 and 2, and a magnificent Rapsodie Espagnole by Liszt. Four years later at his Conservatorio Giuseppe Verdi concert, Schubert's A minor Sonata Op 42 coupled with a magnificent Chopin B flat minor Sonata and Scriabin Sonata No 4. It again ended with the Brahms. Chopin's Etude No 4 Op 10 appears to be his regular encore item.

The development in keyboard mastery -- with added rhythmic emphasis and colourations in the left hand, and a true sense of virtuosity, is clearly evident. John Leech talked of 'this shy young man'. All I can say is 'Thank Goodness'!

Copyright © 13 January 2004 Bill Newman, Edgware UK


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