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Equally elegiac was the Fantasy on B-A-C-H by another Russian, Shcherbakov, who had, despite their differences in age, shared with Mikhail the same teacher, Sobolev, at the Moscow Conservatoire. Beginning with a prayerful meditation on the chromatic motif, Bb-A-C-B natural, the composer introduces by way of contrast a pandiatonic theme in fourths. In the final section both are conjoined to reach their apotheosis before the ending retraces the beginning in cancrizans. Such high-minded 'spiritual' music is rarely to be heard in lunchhours at St Martin's though the sober interior of this great church provided the perfect setting. The dancing Schubert which followed soon set Mikhail and the rest of us free from such weighty introspection though happy to have been through such a cathartic experience, let alone recital of the first magnitude, at his hands -- hands which are as guided missiles targeted straight to the innermost heart of the music he interprets.

Where does young Mikhail go from here? In October, the ARD Piano Competition in Munich beckons and in August that of San Marino. On 20 October we have a fresh opportunity to catch up with him in a concerto with the London Soloists Orchestra under David Josefowitz CBE, who this year celebrates his 80th birthday. But of one thing we may be sure -- this is by no means the last time we will be hearing the name of Mikhail Shilyaev, whose playing irradiates whatever he touches as from within.

Copyright © 22 July 2006 Malcolm Troup, London UK



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