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He has an obvious affinity with the Domenico Scarlatti sonatas, whose picquancy of touch, varied, contrasting moods and a multitude of challenges suit his refined crispness of textural nuances. 'Yes, I would like to perform more repertoire from the Baroque period'. Clementi, perhaps? 'No, Johann Sebastian Bach!' At present, no thoughts exist for the rarer repertoire of Bach's family, the music of Seixas and Soler, or the jewelled masterworks of Byrd and Couperin. Maybe, later on ...

It is a far cry, perhaps to Chopin and the Ballades 1 and 4. But these sounded particularly marvellous, together with Skryabin's early Sonata-Fantasy cast in the Chopinesque mould, with its mix of melancholy tempered by colourful virtuoso outbursts of passion. In an age where much of the Chopin I have occasion to hear -- and this includes the famed Warsaw Competition -- is marred by phrase-dynamic exaggerations or excessive speed, Stanev's remarkable, natural ease of clarity and singing style on this occasion had echoes of Rubinstein, Gilels, Malcuzynski.

Why didn't the two Liszt Hungarian Rhapsodies -- 11 and 12 -- maintain similar impressions of ardency and bravura? Somehow, they were tamed by too much gentlemanly respect without releasing their gypsy abandon synonymous with the glittering personalities of past acknowledged master interpreters. The encore, Chopin's Revolutionary Etude, readjusted our senses back to normal.

At the Howard-Suisse Hotel, adjacent to Temple Station, I had the pleasure of meeting Guido Steffen, Executive Director of WRH Marketing-Gruppe (Switzerland), together with his colleagues. Not only do they look after all chosen artist nominees to the fullest extent, but constant interchange of promotional activities is sought to bring marketing liason into perfect parallel with concerts, recitals and recordings, together with personal appearances live and on television. I was impressed by their setup, but perhaps too honest with my opinions and overall views on performers vis-à-vis the concert hall and commercial recording scene.

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Copyright © 8 April 2004 Bill Newman, Edgware UK


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