Every now and then you go to a concert that you know instinctively is history in the making.
Organised by Simon Tedeschi himself, this recital coincided beautifully with the release on ABC Classics of his recording of Pictures at an Exhibition by Russian composer Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky (1839-1881).
The recording is brilliant, but the live performance was even better.
Tedeschi’s brilliance lies in his astounding technical mastery and incredible use of dynamics and different tone qualities.
The first half of this full length recital which boasted an almost packed house opened with the nostalgically beautiful Album for the Young by his contemporary, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893).
Tedeschi’s understated beginning blossomed into full range expression. His ability to do long distance tremolo over the top of a melody is very impressive. Unfortunately some of the quieter moments were disturbed by what can only be described as virtuosic coughing from the audience.
The sublime use of soft dynamics created a shimmering effect rarely heard by a pianist.
It was almost supernatural and held the audience in a trance.
Dreamlike melodic sequences were contrasted well with jubilant sections.
Dressed in a smart black velvet jacket, Simon Tedeschi was a picture of composure in the second half, when he realised the piano tuner had left a section of the piano (I think it was the music stand) on the floor.
He adeptly replaced it and promptly bounded into the majestic opening phrases of Pictures at an Exhibition.
The triumphant playing revealed a great depth of sound which fully exercised the strings of the magnificent Steinway Grand on which he was playing.
The effect was stunning, but never did you feel that he was bashing. His was real and determined strength. Powerful left hand moving notes were balanced by beautiful bell-like sounds in the right hand.
Pictures at an Exhibition was written in response to a memorial exhibition of paintings and drawings of Mussorgsky’s friend, Victor Hartmann, who died in 1873.
The eclectic mix of Hartmann’s pictures gives the suite wide colouristic range, extending from the bulky gestures of ‘Bydlo’ (a large Polish cart) and madcap unruliness of ‘Hut on Fowls Legs’ to the light-hearted depictions of ‘Limoges Market Place.’
The second time the opening theme appears it is fully harmonised, and Tedeschi gave it a rich rendition.
You could almost hear the rich orchestral colours, which Ravel brought to life when he orchestrated this wonderful work.
A change of mood took us into a more light-hearted depiction of the Paris ‘Tuileries”, which Tedeschi handled so defly.
Some of the fast sections were so fast it wouldn’t be physically possible to go any faster, and the result was pure exhilaration!
Simon Tedeschi used the full depth of the grand piano structure as he let passages of turbulence resound and sit as the huge mixture of notes echoed and mixed through each other.
He let things sit as they worked their way through each other, a bit like sitting in a church and hearing the echo when a phrase has finished.
His sense of timing was perfect.
I knew this guy was good, but I had no idea just how good.
Brilliant is the word.
If you missed the live performance, fear not, there are two performances left: Simon Tedeschi Pictures at an Exhibition November 7 at 7.30pm at Coffs Harbour Regional Gallery and January 31 at 8pm at the Art Gallery of NSW.
Meldi Arkinstall, Music CD Reviewer, The Culture Concept Circle, 2015
Watch Simon Tedeschi Play the Promenade from Pictures at an Exhibition