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A NAME TO REMEMBER!

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Mikhail Shilyaev at St Martin-in-the-Fields,
reviewed by MALCOLM TROUP

 

Who is this handsome young Russian behind his designer stubble, who is gathering in all the top awards: among them the 'Myra Hess' and 'Ricci Foundation'? Mikhail Shilyaev first came to my notice when he swept the boards of the Beethoven Intercollegiate Piano Competition (now newly sponsored by Blüthner's) last December with a performance -- wise beyond his years -- of Beethoven's Sonata Opus 111. Yesterday he was at it again at London's St Martin-in-the-Fields for the Beethoven Piano Society of Europe's First Prize Winner's recital. There too was the Master of the Worshipful Company of Musicians, Peter Fowler, who cornered Mikhail before the last note of Schubert's Drei Klavierstücke had time to die away in order to present him with the Company's Beethoven Medal and to inform an enthusiastic public that since winning the Medal, Mikhail had also successfully auditioned for one of the Musicians Company's prestigious Wigmore Hall débuts where he could be heard on 5 March 2007.

From left to right: Peter Fowler, Master of the Worshipful Company of Musicians, Professor Malcolm Troup, Chairman of the Beethoven Piano Society of Europe and pianist Mikhail Shilyaev. Photo © 2006 Paul Campion
From left to right: Peter Fowler, Master of the Worshipful Company of Musicians, Professor Malcolm Troup, Chairman of the Beethoven Piano Society of Europe and pianist Mikhail Shilyaev. Photo © 2006 Paul Campion

Among the many endearingly 'old-fashioned' attributes of this youngest of the Young Turks, is a total absence of self-indulgence almost recalling Hofmann and Brailowsky of a previous generation or the late Cyril Smith: no noisy susurrations or sing-alongs, no grimaces or gesticulations of any kind -- only the slight parting of his lips in anticipation indicates a musical climax on the way and betrays his unaffected joy in the art of re-creation which he shares with all his listeners. Otherwise his eyes look straight ahead, rarely stealing a glance at the keyboard, where his fingers weave their spell as by an act of mediumship. What we heard, besides the Schubert, was a flawless account of Beethoven's Les Adieux Sonata -- a poignant memorial to his late lamented teacher, Mark Ray (formerly Head of Keyboard Studies at the Royal Northern College of Music Manchester) who drowned tragically while swimming in Nevada last month.

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Copyright © 22 July 2006 Malcolm Troup, London UK

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