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This was for Katya Apekisheva's piano recital on Wednesday 6 October 2004. I first heard her when she was featured as a Young Distinguished Artist by YCAT some years back. Born in Moscow in 1975, she is now a regular Kirckman participant. A product of the famous Gnessin School of Music where she was taught by Ada Traub and Anna Kantor, Katya moved to Israel where she continued studies with Irina Berkovitch at the Rubin Academy. In 1994, she came to London and the Royal College of Music for further studies with the late Irina Zaritskaya, and a year later she was presented by HRH The Prince of Wales with the President's Rose Bowl. Then, in 1996 the Silver Medal at the Dudley International Piano Competition, a Prize at the Leeds International Competition and the London Philharmonic's Pioneer Young Soloist of the Year Award. Following graduation from the RCM she picked up the Terrence Judd Award as the most outstanding pianist of 1997 followed by second prize in the Scottish International Competition. Most recently, winning the Schubert Prize at the AXA Dublin Competition completed the current list of high honours.

What a programme at St Johns! Eleven of Grieg's Lyric Pieces -- more than enough to floor the most enduring endeavours of the best performers around: Leaping Dance, Berceuse, Butterfly (so fast, it made you think of Godowsky in his prime), Grandmother's Minuet, Homeward and Homesickness (beautifully contrasted), The Brooklet (liquid and irridescent, in turn), March of the Trolls (phantom-like, straight out of Ibsen's dreamworld), At your feet, Melody, and the delectable Wedding Day at Troldhaugen (so rhythmically buoyant, it made you want to dance up and down the aisles of seating). Scriabin's mysterious Fourth Sonata with its constant surges of dramatic mania -- in reality the centrepiece shift towards the introspective miasmas of the other six sonatas -- applied the Horowitz touch of mastery so typical of the real essence of this misunderstood composer. Then, to complete the demanding programme (but hardly so for this enthused audience) came her party piece: Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition, which resulted in dear Thomas Hemsley going into ectasies, thus losing his route towards the Artist Room. But that was after the final Grieg encore.

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Copyright © 15 January 2005 Bill Newman, Edgware UK


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