Italy: / L'Ape musicale / 01.06.2018. (link)

Two stars under the dome of Mole-Antonelliana.

The meeting of the youngest star pianist with one of the current leading ones has marked the end of the season 2017/18 for the RAI National Symphonic Orchestra.

TORINO, May, 30 2018 – the history of professional music is riddled with young, yet already ripe talents. However, they vanish just as fast, being sacrificed on the altars of fame, so unexpected and huge. Today, it is also “heated” by performances and interviews that are easy to watch in real-time – their recordings remind you afterwards of the fleeting character of their fame. Alexander Malofeev, a pianist born in 2001, won his first award at Chaikovsky competition in Moscow. He also successfully launched his career with that impressive feat. He easily attracts the attention of the media, and despite their articles, he is viewed as the latest find among the performers playing his instrument before each event. Accordingly, expectation of Torino residents were optimistic on Tuesday, May 29 and Wednesday, May 30. This was not only due to the debute of the Russian youth at the “Auditorium RAI Arturo Toscanini” concert hall. The return of the famous conductor Myung-Whun Chung also played its role. He has long since taken his own rightful place on the Olympus of the leading conductors. Then, the attention of many turned to the first part of the program, namely “Rhapsody on a theme by Paganini”, opus 43 (1934). It was written by Sergey Rachmaninov (1873-1943). He stands among the most unmatched composers. Those who expected the composition to be interpreted in the most unprecedented manner possible, may have been dissappointed, because Malofeev never repeats himself playing the keys. The same can be applied to more virtuosic crossfades. At the same time, the musician demonstrates his control over the musical technique, mature thinking and individual perception of musical works. These qualities allow him to avoid cliches, infusing his melodies with vigour. Quite often, the aim of such vigor is to forget about the sheet. Then, one can apply cliches during the performance of the part by a famous soloist. Luckily, people will keep discussing him for many years to come. It is still early to determine whether his ability can allow him to achieve higher successes in terms of modern piano techniques. However, he has an image of a musician featruring an inexhaustible intensity in his performance, and also multiple key touching techniques. He is able to present thousands of shades of a melody in the best way possible. And all that within a single fragment where the mood of the music changes from melancholia to hysteria. The musician follows the path of his own, inner poetry, which is far from any haughty “starry” manners, which can usually be seen in performance of pieces by Rachmaninov, whose works are full of truly “explosive” moments. Malofeev takes on their performance with natural elegancy. This applies both to the quiet moments between astounding legatos, and the rage produced by precisely performed fear-imposing chords. They are sometimes played with crossed hands. To have such partner as Myung-Whun Chung on the stage of Orchestra Sinfonica Nazionale della RAI di Torino – this is the ideal choice. Infallible precision of beats, the purity of timbre that can be visualized as a golden pendant – such associations are born from his smooth, but energetic gestures. As the result, they blend into a perfect shape – a unified, meaningful sequence of sharp sounds. It perfectly reflects the spirit of the XXth century. It is played with thrilling pauses, divided into short time fragments. The pauses completely rob the Rhapsody and the fourth concert of the expansive pathos which was present in the earlier works, performed by the author himself. Increasingly dreamy and sad tunes can be heard in the first of the two repetitions before each pause. “Dumka” (Thought), opus 59 by Chaikovsky. It also has a very expressive undertitle, “Scenes from the life of a Russian village”. It is played on the keys in a peaceful and calm manner. In its middle part, this opus is no less impressive in its disturbing softness as the phrasing of the piece. It demonstrates the authenticity of the soul reflected on the music sheet. It is often put within the limits of a superficial list, which is good at bringing back memories. Widely known “Besieged” – the last part of the 7th Sonata by Prokofiev. This melody is fine-polished in its essence. It is wild and mechanical and makes the public absolutely, genuinely ecstatic. Musicians are called back on the stage to repeat the melody as an encore. This speaks of the fact that their talent is truly evolving.

Alberto Ponti.