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S & H Recital Review

Simon Trpčeski: Brahms, Liszt, Chopin, Wigmore Hall, 1pm 18th February 2002 (MB)

Brahms: Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel Op. 24
Liszt: 2 Schubert Song Arrangements, Die Forelle & Ständchen
Chopin: Scherzo No. 3 in C sharp minor Op. 39 & Scherzo No. 4 in E major Op. 54


Very rarely does a critic run out of superlatives to describe a musician but in the case of 22 year old Simon Trpčeski we are in danger of doing so. The brilliance of his last recital at the Wigmore Hall, in a programme of Schumann, Tchaikovsky and Prokofiev, was transparent. If anything, this tougher programme was an even finer achievement, the range greater, the pianism on a level of sublimity unmatched by more established pianists who have played at the Wigmore this year (Kempf and Schiff amongst them). He dazzles critics and audiences alike and this packed recital is demonstration of his formidable artistic skills.

Throughout the entire hour he played I was constantly impressed by the clarity of his phrasing. Not one note seemed muffled or stressed, the range of his dynamics from the most minimal pianissimo to the most overwhelming forte balanced with a perfection that was astonishing. That he also achieved quite stunning use of colour and tone added to the impression of a pianist whose range seems unquestionably mature for one so young.

Brahmsí Handel Variations, in the wrong hands, can sound idiosyncratic but Mr Trpčeski balanced the trajectory of virtuosity and poetry with equal distinction. The athleticism of his pianism, nowhere more liberating than in the closing fugue, never threatened the development of the gentler variations, such as numbers 11,12 and 21, and his use of rubato was reined in sufficiently to allow for a natural breath to appear between the notes. In part, this was due to an instinctive grasp of rhythm on Mr Trpčeskiís part which allowed each of the figurations to gather an individuality of phrasing. The element of contrast was high, with even the most delicate finger-work overlaid with a total variation of colour.

His Liszt displayed similar virtues, Ständchen in particular having an exquisite tenderness and poetry. The beauty of tone seduced the ear, so passionate was the playing, so refined the sense of touch. Die Forelle was simply a fabulous performance, literally dripping with the widest spectrum of colour. Mr Trpčeski turned the keyboard into a shimmering freshwater river, his fingers touching the keys as if each were a separate palette spreading paint across a canvas. This was subjective, imagistic pianism that was as inspired as it was miraculous. Both Chopin Scherzi were in their own ways brilliant miniatures, No. 3 delivered with powerful tone and a sustained sense of sombreness, No. 4 with a much lighter use of colour. Again, there was a dreamlike quality to the phrasing, and a near ideal balance between the leonine and feline which makes these works the hybrids they can sometimes seem. If there was a momentary lapse of tension in the final fantasia of the 4th Scherzo it all but seemed inevitable after the glories which had preceded it.

This was once again an enormously impressive recital confirming that Simon Trpčeski is a formidable talent.

Marc Bridle

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