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MALCOLM MILLER enjoys a Wigmore Hall recital
by the young Bulgarian pianist Vesselin Stanev


Vesselin Stanev is a pianistic force to reckon with. At his well-attended Wigmore Hall recital on Wednesday 28 June 2006, he performed an intriguing programme which featured some of the more demanding pillars of 19th century piano music prefaced by an unusual selection of Scarlatti sonatas. From the very start one could sense a distinctive sensibility in his touch, which produced an attractively layered pianistic texture. The upper line glowed, the inner voices shone translucently, and the bass lines moved with fluid relaxation. The Sonata in F K296 began with polyphonic precision gently flowing over a steady bass line; this was dreamy, romantic Baroque, introspective, and poetic. It was followed by a more fiery Sonata in F minor K50, with bell-like radiance in the cross hands effects and relentless, though sometimes quirky energy in the ostinati, a characteristic also sensed in the Sonata in D minor K516 with its frequent pauses between repeated gestures. Here and in the final, skipping, Sonata in C major K357, Scarlatti's rather sumptuous harmonies, often quite modern, even jazzy, resonated with rich vibrancy.

It set the scene for Schumann's Humouresque Op 2, one of the more extended works which delves into the Romantic psyche's dualities, in mood swings from ceremonial, to whimsical, from pomp to pathos and from drama to dreaminess. Stanev was fully alive to the mercurial shifts of character, drawing nuances of colour throughout with dynamic shading frequently on the piano and pianissimo side, and with a conclusion memorable for its sheer beauty of piano tone. Overall it was a reading closer in style to Rachmaninov or Debussy than the early Romantic Schumann, with perhaps a touch more rubato than necessary in thematic statements.

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Copyright © 3 July 2006 Malcolm Miller, London UK


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