FOUR recitals and a masterclass in a short three-day period with travel to disparate venues is a challenging schedule for any soloist.
To focus and maintain an audience’s interest in Schubert’s 40-minute and largely introspective G major piano sonata D.894 (Fantasie) requires a performer with special attributes. Together with Schumann’s Arabeske in C major and Beethoven’s so-called ‘Grand Sonata’ in E flat, Erdem Misirlioğlu brought three very different pieces, much of which contained a great deal of lyricism and musical poetry.
A competition prize-winner from an early age – the 2006 International Rachmaninov Competition for Young Pianists, the piano section of the BBC Young Musician of the Year 2008 and the Beethoven Piano Society of Europe 2011 – Misirlioğlu displayed a confident and technical conviction that gave all three works appropriate breadth and time. Nothing ever felt rushed or lost focus and commitment. The music was always allowed to speak freely.
Misirlioğlu strove, by and large successfully, to work within the opportunities and constraints presented by a different piano at each venue. Despite the differences, his technical control allowed him to move effortlessly through the changing episodes of Schumann’s Arabeske, the sudden bursts of energy effectively sitting alongside the prevalent poetic tranquillity. These same features were further in evidence in the larger canvas of the Beethoven sonata with its extended requirements for carefully controlled dynamic nuances, rubato and ‘delayed notes’.
The very natural song-like quality of so much of Schubert’s piano music pervades the ‘Fantasie’ sonata. In the lengthy, rhetorical and rhapsodic nature of the first movement, the soloist was not always best served by some unevenness of touch to be found on the instruments. Nevertheless Misirlioğlu never faulted in his sustained intention to bring Schubert’s lyricism to life, convey the folk-dance lightness, humour and a sense of free spirit in the second and third movements and to gather up all of these strands in the finale of the sonata.
Thoughtfulness, care and appropriate responses to largely young pianists at the masterclass at the Guildhall’s Centre for Young Musicians Taunton (Richard Huish College) gave further insight into the personality that brought much pleasure to the appreciative audiences at Erdem Misirlioğlu’s recitals.
Submitted by Andrew Maddocks