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Misha Kaploukhii (Susan Elkin review)

Misha Kaploukhii: piano recital

Corn exchange, Newbury

20 May 2024

Part of the Newbury Spring Festival, this Corn Exchange recital was part of the prize for the winner  of the Sheepdrove Piano Competition so nobody knew until the previous day who it was going to be. In the event it was Misha Kaploukhii.  He is 22, from Russia and studying at Royal College of Music. Very talented indeed, he already has a number of prizes and scholarships under his belt.

It was well chosen programme ranging from the richly romantic Chopin to the modernity of Messiaen taking in a bit of operetta along the way.

Well, obviously we can take outstanding technical skill for granted at this level. What distinguished this performance was delicacy of colour in the interpretation. He began with two substantial works:  Chopin’s F Minor Fantasy, Op 49 and Medtner’s Sonata in G minor, Op 22 which took us though a wide range of moods. The delicacy of the ascending runs combined with the lovely left hand weight in the opening section of the Chopin was particularly striking.

Then, played as pair almost without break, we got two Chopin Mazurkas. He did them with plenty of elegance and dance, tempered with a lot of rubato. And so, as a mood changer,  to Grodowsky’s Symphonic Metamorphosis on Die Fledermaus, which is as witty as it is technically demanding. Kaploukhii clearly knows how the deliver the lilt of a Viennese waltz when it’s required.

The concert ended with Listz’s Bagatelle sans tonalite. followed immediately by Messiaen’s Regards XV. La Baiser de L’Enfant Jesus, a pairing which is in effect a musical joke. Listz has fun with discords, impeccably played with delicate charm by Kaploukhii, but this piece is certainly not atonal in the sense that the term was later understood. The Messiaen (for some reason they dimmed the lights at this moment) is mysterious and unsettling with bell-like chord sequences which Kaploukhii made sound very beautiful. He lingered lovingly (daringly?) over the unresolved final chord, letting its harmonics ring out for a much longer time than usual. Fortunately the good folk of Newbury are very well behaved and educated and nobody interrupted with premature applause.

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Susan Elkin Susan Elkin is an education journalist, author and former secondary teacher of English. She was Education and Training Editor at The Stage from 2005 - 2016
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