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<<<  <<  -- 7 --  Malcolm Troup    AN EXTRAORDINARY SHOWCASE


Fortunately, Ronan O'Hora of the Guildhall School (where Kiwuwa has recently graduated with First Class Honours) has guided his pupil's unique talents into congruent channels -- as witness his magisterial performance of 17-year-old Mendelssohn's Sonata in E major, which he not only rescued from well-nigh oblivion (when was the last time you heard it in recital?) but enabled us to appreciate the young composer's initiative in reshuffling the old ingredients of sonata-form (which even at that time were becoming 'neo-classical') by means of a leitmotif which, though perhaps not strong enough to occupy the role assigned to it, stays with us to the end.

What Mendelssohn's friend Ferdinand Hiller was later to criticise to his face as old-fashioned figuration -- the stock-in-trade of arpeggios, scales and broken chords -- conjured up in Kiwuwa's hands the airy-faery realms of the Midsummer Night's Dream Overture which only a few months separated from the Sonata. Kiwuwa made us forget the piled-up sequences of the finale's climax by showing us how perfectly they fitted into the surrounding soundscape; before we knew it his ear-cleansing operation had revealed to us yet another precocious masterpiece on a par with the Octet, as fresh and eventful as the day Mendelssohn had first conceived it. Herbert Read may have taught us the use of the Innocent Eye, which at the dawn of humanity must have been second nature to us all, but we now have a Kiwuwa to teach us the joys of the Innocent Ear.

Ivan Kiwuwa playing at Regent Hall in London
Ivan Kiwuwa playing at Regent Hall in London

Given the ovation which followed, with many standing to applaud, Ivan offered as an encore more Schubert so as to finish as he had begun -- this time the F minor Moment Musical -- a strong masculine highly-rhythmical account which made our spirits dance within us right up to the final scale as it hurtled all the way down the length of the keyboard. We left wondering how a programme of pure classics could still exert this overpowering effect on us -- happy, too, that the now concluded Summer Festival had so often succeeded in instilling this sense of wonder.

Copyright © 15 August 2007 Malcolm Troup, London UK




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