Spoilt for choice
Swiss ambassadors, a Bulgarian pianist
and a marketing project,
with BILL NEWMAN
I heard Vesselin Stanev play at London's Wigmore Hall on 16 February 2004 ... Heavens, is it that long ago, already? ... and fell in love with his Scarlatti, Chopin and Skryabin.
Now living in Switzerland, Stanev is in his fortieth year and hails from Varna in Bulgaria. He picked out his first notes on the family piano at six, and his mother decided that her son should follow in her footsteps. Vesselin was entered in his local music school at ten. Seventeen years on, he transferred over to Sofia's Music Academy, and in 1983 began studying with that Doyen of Russian Pianist-Teachers, Dmitri Bashkirov, renowned for insisting that his pupils include Clementi in all of their recitals, and become totally proficient in their mastery of the solo piano output of Robert Schumann. I was surprised not to see him among the cognoscenti at the London event -- he informs me that he delights in travelling around Europe to keep in touch with all developments by his 'offspring'!
The rather shy Stanev pays deference to his Master's strong influence. Next, the Tchaikovsky Conservatory in Moscow awarded him a Soloist's Diploma in 1988. Then came a change of scene when he moved to Paris for three years' study with the controversial, but equally masterful Alexis Weissenberg. The years 1992-5 also included advanced classes at the Conservatoire national supérieur de musique, and were followed by the inevitable awards at the Tchaikovsky Competition and the Grand Prix at the Concours Marguerite Long -- Jacques Thibaud. Where Harold C Schonberg sees and hears our young man as 'a virtuoso in the Horowitz tradition', I gleaned a more realistic impression of a performer minus the frills, his inbuilt technique cast in an indestructable mould at the constant service of the romantic repertory he chooses to perform.
Copyright © 8 April 2004
Bill Newman, Edgware UK