Review: Erdem Misirlioglu, Ipswich School

Erdem Misirlioglu

Erdem Misirlioglu - Credit: Archant

Ipswich School Festival, Erdem Misirlioglu, Piano, September 30

It is the moment every concert promoter dreads - the artist you engaged cannot appear. However, the withdrawal of Joanna MacGregor due to an accident afforded the audience an opportunity to hear a rapidly rising pianist of the younger generation – and a local one at that.

Erdem Misirlioglu, Ipswich born and educated, won the piano section of the BBC Young Musician contest in 2008 and was a prizewinner in the International Rachmaninov Competition two years earlier. Still only 24, he has a beguiling mixture of youthfulness and maturity and an assured technique that eschews bravura and strikes at the core of the music.

Opening his recital with Schumann’s Kinderszenen, his long, elegant fingers floated easily over the keys and his calm demeanour delivered just the right combination of simplicity and security that the music demands. In the same composer’s Arabeske, which opened the second half, there was fluency and flickering changes of atmosphere before the sombre ending.

Erdem showed himself to be an accomplished performer of Chopin, capturing the troubled mood of the first of the opus 27 Nocturnes and producing a finely controlled flow of melody in the second. In the visionary F minor Ballade his tonal clarity and ability to draw out the melody from the complex harmonies were outstanding.

Liszt’s Piano Sonata, the only one he wrote, is one of his greatest achievements and a peak of the piano repertoire. The technical challenges are severe but never for mere display. Erdem played with disciplined concentration and intensity throughout, never allowing the music to wallow and drawing a fine range of sound and tone from the instrument. Even the big Grandioso theme, which can easily become bombastic, was held firmly in place and greatly to its benefit.

I’m not sure that an encore was needed but after the heady cocktail of Liszt a quietly reflective (and short) piece of Avo Paart seemed like a cleansing glass of cold water.

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It was a recital of the highest class and this immensely talented pianist has a highly promising future.

Gareth Jones

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