Old and New at the National Liberal Club where the Kettner Concert Society have been giving concerts for the past fifty years.A new artistic direction of Hannah-Elizabeth Teoh and Cristian Sandrin have taken over Ben Westlake’s inspired lead and now on its second concert this season has filled this unique hall with an enthusiastic audience for a superb recital given by the young Romanian pianist Mihai Ritivoiu.
Superb performances on the Club’s own magnificent Steinway but it was the scintillating encore of Chopin’s Study op 10 n.4 that brought the house down much as it had for Rubinstein in his last recital at the Wigmore Hall in 1976.The difference of course was that Mihai was not born then but he has inherited the same rhythmic drive and scintillating palette of sumptuous sounds that the 90 year old Rubinstein could still inspire his audience with.
But this was only a thank you to an audience that had sat spellbound through a recital of impeccable good taste and intelligence from a musician who could conjure up magic from a black box of hammers and strings with sounds of simplicity and sumptuous beauty.A monumental performance of Enescu’s masterpiece the 1924 Sonata that had won Mihai a top prize at the 2011 Enescu International Piano Competition and which he has delved ever deeper into ,since,in a continual voyage of discovery.
This was after a ravishing performance of Chopin’s most perfect work,the Barcarolle op 60 .A performance of great stature with it’s continuous outpouring of song played with such delicacy and sumptuous richness by a master musician .Fauré’s beautiful early Ballade I had fallen in love with,as a child,in Robert Casadesus’ magical performance for piano and orchestra with Bernstein at the helm.I think this is the first time I have heard Fauré’s own solo piano version and I was overwhelmed by the same beauty of the mellifluous outpouring of an aristocratic French sound world that was to come to an end with the Great War.
A war that Ravel had taken part in as an active ambulance driver and had been inspired by the horrors that he saw to write a work that looked back to the perfection of the world of Couperin.A world of purity and simplicity that inspired him to dedicate each movement to friends whose young lives had been so cruelly curtailed.Mihai played just two movements with ravishing colours and the perfect clockwork mechanism of purity and perfection of the Prélude was complimented by the suave chiselled beauty of the Menuet.
Opening with Couperin’s Les Barricades Mysterieuses played entirely without pedal made a great contrast with the 2005 reworking by the Romanian composer Dediu in which the original is inverted and weaves a spider’s web of etherial fluid sounds.
Schubert’s first Impromptu D 935 was the real majestic opener and showed us the mature musicianship and sensitivity of an artist who could delve into the heart of such a well known work with such intensely moving originality and simplicity.
Peter Whyte,the venerable chairman,was happy to take back seat tonight as he passed the reigns to these two young artistic directors,who are also distinguished pianists,and who will take the Kettner Music Society to even greater heights.
The next concert is on the 22nd February with the renowned English pianist Dame Imogen Cooper,who is also Cristians mentor via the Imogen Cooper Musical Trust.
Let us not forget that the Liberal Club has rung with the sounds of the likes of Rachmaninov and Moiseiwitch and now indeed looks like turning full circle – a true glorious renaissance
Great music returns to the National Liberal Club with this series and others including the Keyboard Trust of which Cristian and Mihai have both been recipients.
A Golden era returns and I can’t wait to enjoy the promise of such glorious music in these august historic surrounds.
Yisha Xue celebrates the ‘Year of the Rabbit’ on the 2nd of February with a recital by a highly gifted teenager,Shutian Cheng,who recently played in St Johns SS Rachmaninov’s much revered and feared Third Piano Concerto.
The National Liberal Club is indeed resounding with the sound of music
Artistic Directors of the Kettner Music Society
Hailed for her ‘dark energy’ and ‘uncommon sensitivity’, New Zealand born Hannah-Elizabeth Teoh is one of the most interesting young pianists in the UK. Following intensive periods of study at the Royal Academy of Music, the Ecole Normale de Musique de Paris and the Royal College of Music, she has won numerous awards including the Harold Samuel Prize, the Florence Murray Award, the Lesley Holland Scholarship and the Ivy Corkill Recital Award. As a concerto soloist she has performed around the world, including a premiere recording of Ross Harris’ Concertina for Piano and Orchestra with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, and most recently making her Italian debut with the Master Orchestra in Brescia playing Saint-Saëns’ second piano concerto. A keen exponent of contemporary music, Hannah-Elizabeth has premiered a number of works for piano including Kettner composer-in-residence Dan Chappell’s Microludes in a 2022 Kettner Concert. Supporting her musical life, Hannah-Elizabeth draws inspiration from literature and art and has a Masters in Philosophy from Birkbeck University.
Born in Bucharest, Romania, Cristian Sandrin had his Wigmore Hall debut recital in 2017. He collaborates often with orchestras in Romania and the UK, having had his debut with the prestigious “George Enescu” Philharmonic and the Bournemouth Bach Choir Orchestra in 2021. Cristian enjoys conducting Mozart concertos from the keyboard as well as chamber music collaborations. He has performed all over Europe, including recitals at the Salle Cortot, Teatro La Fenice and Palau de la Musica Catalana. He has won numerours prizes and distinctions in international piano competitions, such as the top prizes of the International Piano Competition Citta di Oleggio 2019, the Windsor International Piano Competition 2018, the Concours Musical de Versailles 2019, Automobile Club de France Piano Competition 2011 and the “Animato” Competition in Paris 2012. In 2019 he received the Rossalyn Tureck Prize for the best interpretation of Bach at the Olga Kern International Piano Competition in New Mexico. He is an alumni of the Imogen Cooper Music Trust, being supported as well by the Keyboard Charitable Trust.
Chairman of the Kettner Music Society
Peter Whyte has been involved with the Kettner Society since its very beginning; it was while working at a tour operating firm in the 70s that he had a visit from Peter Boizot, who invited him to attend the new dining group he was starting. In 2003 Peter up the position of chairman, the sixth in the history of the society.Born and raised in North London, Peter’s interest in politics later led him to become chairman of the Bracknell Liberal Association. A keen cricketer, he has also chaired a cricket club. Always interested in commemorating significant figures, he is responsible for ten blue plaques in London, (including ones dedicated to Chopin and Mendelssohn) and six road names in Reading (including one to the Liberal statesman Rufus Isaacs).Since becoming interested in music, Peter has relished the opportunity to attend performances by many great pianists. Among those who left a particular impression are Claudio Arrau, Steven Bishop, Alfred Brendal, Artur Rubinstein, and John Ogdon.