Sunday, March 10, 2013

Mihkel Poll recital

Mikhel Poll (1)During my peregrinations along Freshwater’s high street I spotted a poster for an evening piano recital by the young Estonian pianist Mihkel Poll.

It was conveniently located at the Memorial Hall only a short walk away from the B&B. I dolled myself up a bit with my best available attire, and went in search of some take-away foo. I picked up a take-away tray of satay chicken and rice without having an obvious place to eat them, eventually settling on the bus-shelter cum feline safari park that was adjacent to the hall. At least seated and out of the biting wind I was able to enjoy the meal with a modicum of dignity until I was spotted mid-bite by Howard and Fiona walking past: “ eating al fresco are we?”

Oh the shame.
Inside the modestly sized hall I found that the facilities were much better than expected: a Steinway grand piano and a bar! One of the trustees of the West Wight Arts Association running the event picked up my Australian accent and turned out to be a one-time resident of Sydney so we had a good chat.

This recital is one of a series of chamber concerts given this year from an impressive roster of artists – Freshwater’s definitely no backwater. Mikhel Poll won last year’s Guildhall Wigmore Recital Prize, so he’s definitely one to watch in the ever growing field of competition-forged concert pianists. I’m so glad he presented a program that didn’t tie itself to war-horses and crowd pleasers; it followed essentially a forward historical plan, building in intensity and then tapering off just a little towards the end so as not to leave you hanging from some emotional cliff edge.

The concert recital was very pleasing and I was a little surprised to find myself enjoying the more challenging second half most of all. The first half consisted of the Mozart and Chopin pieces which I was rather familiar with but had never heard live, and the second had the twentieth century works of Enescu, Ligeti and Bartok which I didn’t know at all. I remember Enescu’s Octet from a long ago Sydney concert and thinking it a marvellous work. I wasn’t quite as taken by the sonata although Poll made a convincing case and he seemed to be enjoying himself in it most of all the pieces on the program. The Ligeti etudes were fearsome pieces that he has good experience of (and has recorded) and renders flawlessly, while the concluding Bartok suite made me want to try some more of these pieces myself. I started playing his lovely Hungarian Folksongs from Csik last year after catching a YouTube performance by Radmila Stojanovic-Kiriluk.

The evening ended with an encore of Rachmaninov’s Prelude in G Op 32 No.5 – another one for me to try!  A brilliant and memorable evening out for me.

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