Reviews of the recital in Biot
Crescendo Magazine / The anniversary of the Musical Hours of Biot with Alexander Malofeev.
Situated on the hills between Nice and Antibes, the city of Biot hosts a festival that has become unmissable in the region thanks to the quality of its concerts and guest artists. The knowledge, enthusiasm and charisma of its director Liliane Valsecchi have attracted the on-going participation of the best soloists: Brigitte Engerer, Nelson Freire and Nicholas Angelich have become loyal friends. Renaud Capuçon, Gautier Capuçon, Khatia Buniatishvili, Nikolai Lugansky and Edgar Moreau return with pleasure. This year, it was the young Russian pianist Alexander Malofeev who was at the centre of the event. He was scheduled to come to Biot a few years ago, but because of the health crisis this was his first opportunity to come and delight the public.
He began the recital with Beethoven’s Sonata No. 14 , «Moonlight» . He captivated the public from the first bars of the first Adagio sostenuto movement. He took his time and everything was miraculously fluid. The mood was troubled, questioning, hypnotic, and the audience was left breathless. He was mischievous in the Allegretto. He played with humor and joyfully alternated between legato and staccato. Malofeev got stuck into the Presto with dazzling power. With his impressive fingering skills he led us, like a tornado, towards excess and madness.
He continued with Frédéric Chopin’s Sonata No.2 in B-flat minor. It was as if Malofeev were from another planet and he was inviting us to come and explore it. It was dazzling, orchestral. The first two movements conjured up all imaginable images of violence and terror of death. Malofeev put his technical genius at the service of the composer’s intentions. No nuance of emotion or drama was lacking. Every note was absolutely masterful. The keyboard devoured the music. The «Funeral March» was a stunning spectacle. It was a state funeral. Its precision and power was haunting.
Malofeev’s maturity is astonishing. Perhaps this is due in part to the difficulties he has faced. He happened to be in Canada when the war broke out, and he was due to give a series of concerts there. He was asked to denounce the actions of Putin’s government. He refused, as his entire family lives in Moscow and he was scared of reprisals. All his concerts in Canada and the United States were cancelled and he found himself abandoned to his fate. It was Daniel Barenboim who managed to get him papers to settle in Germany.
After the intermission, Alexander Malofeev presented a radiant programme. He flowed between the pieces without interruptions. From Scriabin’s formidable Prelude for the Left Hand her moved on to Rachmaninoff’s famous Prelude in C-sharp minor, finishing with the ouverture of Wagner’s Tannhäuser in the arrangement by Liszt. It was impressive. Malofeev captivated the audience from the first to the last note. He received a standing ovation from a captivated audience. He played three encores: a melody by Medtner, the «Pas de deux» of Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker in Mikhail Pletnev’s arrangement and Medtner’s Canzona Serenata . An evening to remember.
By Carlo Schreiber, 01.06.2023