Alexander Ardakov - Pianist

June 23, 2023

For the final concert of the 2022/2023 season the Shipston Music Society had great pleasure in inviting the internationally renowned pianist Alexander Ardakov to make a return visit, this time with a change from our usual venue of the Methodist Church to St. Edmund’s Church as part of the “Shipston Proms”. To our delight he accepted the invitation.

For this recital Ardakov chose two composers noted for their piano compositions, Frederick Chopin (1810 – 1849) and Sergei Rachmaninov (1873 – 1943).

The programme began with Chopin’s music. A selection of Nocturnes, Mazurkas and Waltzes displayed Chopin’s ability to produce energetic, lively sections which then “melt” into soft, gentle melodic phrases. Then came the Ballade No. 1 in G minor (op. 23). This is a real “show piece” which requires a complete command of the keyboard and very quick, delicate  fingerwork.  We were not disappointed. Finally the Scherzo No. 2 in Bflat minor (op. 31), a very powerful work so not for the faint-hearted!  We were treated to a very strong performance, giving us plenty to discuss during the interval.

Rachmaninov studied at the Moscow Conservatoire (1885 – 92) and graduated with distinction in both piano and composition. He wrote extensively for the piano although he is perhaps more widely remembered for his orchestral works especially the three symphonies and four piano concertos. As he was composing nearly forty years after Chopin’s death it is interesting to see his ability to create a lyrical melody from small motifs and the influence of the Russian Romanticism inherited from Tchaikovsky and his teachers. Ardakov chose to begin this part of the recital with Melodie (op. 3 no. 3) and Elegie (op.3 no.1) which were followed by “Polchinelle” (op.3 no.4). This was, from the outset a very playful, exuberant piece until in the middle section a beautiful melody gradually emerged. This too then receded as a lively section brought the work to its conclusion. Ten Preludes completed the programme of which no. 5 in G minor (alla marcia) was an excellent example of Ardakov’s technical skill.

This programme and it’s performance by Alexander Ardakov  was a real “Tour de Force” and all members of the audience, musicians and non-musicians, responded with rapturous applause. An encore of three short pieces by Glinka, Scriabin and Tchaikovsky was received with more well-deserved applause before we allowed our performer “to bow out”!

What a wonderful conclusion to our 2022/2023 season.

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