June 5, 1998

Short of superlatives for pianist’s sheer artistry

Every now and then one gets the opportunity, or rather the privilege, to attend a recital by a visiting artist whose sheer artistry and brilliance makes one sit absolutely goggle-eyed and filled with wonderment by the pure magic of the event.

This was Oleg Marshev, a most charming personality both on and off the keyboard, who presented an excellently varied and representative programme by some of the greatest keyboard composers.

Bach’s somewhat austere Prelude in G minor for Organ, transcribed for piano by Alexander Siloti, opened the programme. The delicacy of Chopin was highlighted in the Polonaise Op.26 No.1 and the charming Barcarolle. This was followed by the romanticism of two Liszt works, the poetry inspired “Sonetto di Petrarca No. 104 and, representing the composer’s Transcendental Studies, the Etude in F minor.

As a most satisfying finish to the first half of the programme, the fiendishly difficult paraphrase by Pavel Pabst of Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty Ballet. The brilliance of Marshev’s virtuosity was clearly demonstrated in this highly demanding work.

Prokofiev’s Four Pieces Op.4 and the Second Sonata of the great keyboard master Rachmaninoff comprised the second half. By this time one felt that one was running out of superlatives to suitably describe the perfection of the charismatic performance of this totally unpretentious young man who exuded all the characteristics of a truly great artist. A standing ovation forced the presentation of no less than three encores, the most outstanding of which was the third movement of Prokofiev’s Sonata in B. No wonder the audience was absolutely and totally rapt.

John Yard