From Carnegie Hall to Leighton Buzzard!
I kid you not. Professor Ardakov hadn’t come straight from Carnegie Hall, you understand. Not without a change of socks, as it were. But he has played there, and in Leighton Buzzard: four times in each venue. I asked one of the Driving Wheels of LBMC how they had achieved this coup. The laconic answer was: we asked him. ‘Field of Dreams’ stuff …
Professor Ardakov tends to shiver the timbers of the resident piano when he comes. But this time he brought a gentler programme played, as is his wont, from memory. He began with four short pieces by Glinka, like delicious waterfalls of music caressing the ear. Glinka is considered the father of lyrical melody in Russian music. So Professor Ardakov next played Tchaikovsky’s ‘Piano Sonata No 8 in G’, showing us how Glinka was an important influence on Tchaikovsky (and on ‘The Five’* also). The linkages were reinforced in the knowledgeable programme notes that LBMC always provide.
After the interval he played a smorgasbord of short pieces for us: Mozart’s ‘Fantasia in D minor’; four early Etudes by Chopin; two pieces derived from folk music by Grieg, ending with two pieces by Liszt – ‘Consolation No 3’ in D flat major and ‘Valse de l’opera Faust de Gounod’. The substantial audience received these warmly and was rewarded with an encore of an endearing little song ‘The Lark’ by Glinka’s protégé Balarikov, writing in the style of Chopin – which tied up exquisitely the musical journey we had enjoyed during the evening.