“This is a wonderful time to be a concert goer in Edinburgh”
There are considerable advantages to living in a city with such an enlightened and broad church approach to the performing arts. And being – in global terms – for music a second city compared to, say, Berlin, New York, London or San Francisco, we tend to see up and coming artists before they get the bookings on the true world stage. We thus look into the future. And the future is bright.
Can you recognise the names in the headline? I doubt it. Kensho Watanabe hit the big time two years ago when, just appointed Assistant Conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra aged 29, he stood in at the last minute for his mentor Yannick Nezet-Seguin to make his critically acclaimed subscription concert debut with the Philadelphia and pianist Daniil Trifanov. On his debut with the RSNO on Thursday he showed masterly control and grasp of the complexities involved in conducting a major full length piano concerto, and an hour long Choral and Orchestral work. One had complete confidence in him.
And Can Cakmur? A Turkish pianist who won the 2017 Scottish International Piano Competition, 22 years old, and about to debut with the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra. We shall be seeing and hearing a great deal more from this highly educated, personable young man.
So I suspect the draw, with all due respect to the principals, was the programme: Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No 3 in C minor Op 37, and Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana. A mixture, perhaps, of the sacred and profane. A full house, bar the usual few leg-numbing seats in the gods.
It resonated with me personally that the Beethoven was being performed fifty years after Radu Lupu’s astonishing and winning performance in the final of the Leeds International Piano Competition. In particular, his rendering of the second movement Largo demonstrated thoughtful restraint and tenderness and left me mesmerised. Then we had a successor, twenty years on, to the other legendary Romanian pianist , Dinu Lipatti. And now a Turk interprets the grand man, and an exhilarating interpretation it was. After the lengthy orchestral introduction, brass and wind a little out of balance with the strings to start with, but soon settling down, Cakmur almost threw the opening scales off the piano in a brave, individualistic but convincing interpretation that proves the international piano competition world is not just throwing out sterile, technically competent clones. This young man showed a grasp of the work way beyond his years. Rightly pausing so the unfortunate plethora of uncontrolled audience coughing and sputtering finished, Cakmur created a sense of calm before the opening solo chords of the second movement Largo. The pianist’s sensitivity of playing and interpretation pleased this disciple of Radu Lupu, taking one to a level of transcendence that almost, but not quite, extinguished the insensitive uncontrolled coughing of the audience, who should not have attended in those circumstances, and should learn to cover their mouth with a handkerchief. If only the management could advise this at the beginning of the programme when they talk about mobile phones.
Without a break we rushed into the final movement Rondo: Allegro. Could have been Presto. Uplifting, joyous, fun.
Cakmur introduced his encore that was a melange of Liszt and Schumann overlaid by Bach. Ingenious. What stamina these professionals have, to play like that after thirty minutes of intense keyboard bashing!
There was much to enjoy in the second set’s Carmina Burana, and I always get more out of listening to works that I have performed, such as this, with the mighty Beckenham Chorale. I counted at least 100 voices in the RSNO chorus who gave a very good account of themselves, a full on O Fortuna to open the proceedings, clear diction of the Latin text, great rhythmical singing in the jazz like Veni, Veni, Venias, glorious unrestrained joy in the Blanziflor et Helena. The children’s choir performed clearly without words or music, showed exemplary discipline, and have clearly been very well trained. Soloists Fflur Wyn, Adrian Dwyer and Stephen Gadd contributed well, if sparsely, giving in particular amusing renditions of a swan not enjoying about to be eaten and a drunken abbot.
This is a wonderful time to be a concert goer in Edinburgh.
Reviewer: Charles Stokes (Seen 8 March)
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