BILL NEWMAN listens to
pianist Alexander Romanovsky
The marvelously gifted twenty-four-year-old Alexander Romanovsky was born in the Ukraine in 1984. Since the age of eleven, he has ensured the kind of fame for himself that must be the envy of many others, at least until they have established themselves.
Alexander, or should I say, Sacha's copious list of highly distinguished attainments already suggests that he will stand more or less at the head of all the world's finest artists for many years to come: performing with Spivakov and the Moscow Virtuosi in Moscow, Kiev, the Baltic States and France; also with the St Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra. Then, two years later, Italy for studies with Leonid Margarius at the Imola Piano Academy. His honorary degree from the Regia Accademica Filarmonica of Bologna for interpreting Bach's Goldberg Variations pre-dated the start of the new century, whilst winning the Ferruccio Busoni Competition followed in 2001. That unlocked a full list of invitations to perform in Italy and the rest of Europe, and an overseas tour of Japan. The Papal residence invited him for a concert (in the presence of Pope Benedict XVI) celebrating the 110th anniversary of Pope Paul VI's birth, while the Keyboard Trust presented him in Rome and Hamburg (including the Bennigsen Festival), and then came his American début.
Decca CDs of Schumann and Brahms (2007) were followed by Rachmaninov in 2009. At London's Royal College of Music he holds an Artist's Diploma and he is a Guy Black Scholar.
Schumann and Rachmaninov both featured in this 8 July 2009 programme [Keyboard Charitable Trust, Steinway Hall, London UK]. Schumann's celebrated Etudes Symphoniques included the five Posthumous Variations, so beautifully integrated with the main work that they sounded perfectly natural and relevant, instead of unwanted extras that 'should have been omitted, instead' (in the opinions of certain purists). Suddenly, one became aware of the touches of distinction to the whole which provided elegance and key comparisons to the main musical fare, either side. Romanovsky's soft touch at the outset gave them all the required magical treatment, and never (since Claudio Arrau) have I heard them more superbly done, with great poetry, clarity, passionate commitment in all their required places to enhance the occasion fully and quite brilliantly. To add to their authenticity was a complete observance of musical repeats -- excepting a couple of first subjects -- where the repeated measures were selected for different levels of expression and phrasing.
Likewise, a group of Rachmaninov pieces -- the transcription Lilacs, Op 21 No 5, Prelude in G sharp minor Op Post and the Sonata 2 in B flat minor, Op 36 (revised version). Romanovsky's long fingers somehow suggested Horowitz in his prime: without the necessity to bend each in the required 'correct' pianistic fashion, he was able to acquire far more flexibility and freedom in matters of musical fluency, only occasionally partially playing the wrong note in typically exuberant passagework but more importantly giving a sense of tremendous élan in common with the composer himself -- on those 1940 recordings. The music's Russian romantic strains with discrete rubato statements rubbing shoulders with eternal feelings of sadness and remorse was all graciously brought forth in one great outpouring of harmonised melody. Rachmaninov encores included Polka de WR and Prelude in G minor, together with a special arrangement of the flute finale from Bach's Second Orchestral Suite by an unnamed Ukrainian colleague.
Copyright © 3 August 2009 Bill Newman,