Alexander Ardakov is a virtuoso performer and we counted ourselves very lucky indeed that he had agreed to come to Shipston from London on a hot day in June to give us what turned out to be a consummate piano recital for Shipston’s Music Society. The Society was also delighted to welcome the Mayor of Shipston Cllr Ian Cooper and his Consort, Tina Cooke, and Cllr Jo Barker & her husband Stuart as guests.
A change of venue for the Society for this one performance saw Alexander playing the grand piano in St Edmund’s Church and a programme of music to remember. Starting off with four Scarlatti sonatas, Ardakov played them with a brilliance and lightness that brought them to life and the audience knew immediately that they were in for a treat of an evening. The following pieces by Rameau and Daquin, Tambourine and Le Coucou, had their own unique melodies and style superbly illustrated on the piano.
To end the first half Alexander played Beethoven’s Sonata no 17 in D minor known as the Tempest which brought all the hallmarks of a storm to life – tranquillity, the rising storm, a slowing down and then working to a climactic conclusion in the third movement. Beethoven’s seven variations on the theme of God Save the King (or Queen) in celebration of the Queen’s 92nd birthday was a fanciful piece played with precision and humour.
The second half started with Mendelssohn’s Rondo Capriccioso, followed by Schuman’s Carnaval opus 9 which comprises 22 short pieces or variations based around four notes. Titles of variations included Papillons (Butterflies) and Promenade which speak for themselves, while others are dedicated to peers of the composer such as Chopin, Clara Schumann and violinist Paganini. The piano sang as the whole was performed with the fluency of a master of the keyboard. An evening full of melody was enjoyed by a good audience who applauded enthusiastically. Two well known encore pieces – a Chopin waltz and Grieg’s wedding day at Troldhaugen, brought the evening to a brilliant close.