Reviewed by Andy Wilding
Hosted by Louis Heyneman at his home in Cape Town 17 May 2016
Chopin – Polonaise in A-flat
Beethoven – 6 Bagatelles
Beethoven – Piano Sonata no. 8 “Pathetique”
Schumann – Kinderszenen
Chopin – Scherzo no. 2
Liszt – Mephiosto Waltz
Encore: Revaz Lagmidze
We often think of talented artists such as Aladashvili or Chopin playing in front of thousands of people, but classical music has always survived as much in chamber and salon performances as in concert halls. The atmosphere in Louis Heyneman’s lounge last Tuesday evoked a thousand-year-old feeling, and a cross-cultural tradition, where a small group of artists, academics, and enthusiasts would enjoy an evening of music together. Aladashvili explained that this tradition is very prolific in Georgia (neighbouring the Black Sea, Russia, Azerbaijan, Armenia, and Turkey).
His spoken interactions with the audience were relaxed, easy, confident, and in good humour, so that we felt less of a formal audience and more like some friends who he invited over to see what he was playing. I suddenly realised how important this is for an artist – to speak to the audience. Singers have an immediate advantage in that their art is exactly that, albeit more singingly. We hear their voice, and we have a sense of the person behind the skill. Instrumentalists, having no official reason to speak, can come across as a little cagey – walk on, play, mumble something about an encore, bow, leave. There is a warmth and charm in speaking to the audience that seems natural to Aladashvili, and works greatly to his advantage.
This was especially appreciated with the program music, like the Bagatelles and Kinderszenen. Narrating in between short movements includes one of oldest and most hypnotic forms of entertainment: story-telling. It also has the functional advantage of leading the audience through a program, where it’s nice to know what each movement is about. One can easily lose track following typed program notes. It was easily to imagine a similar atmosphere in the salons of the Romantic period.
Aladashvili portrayed a fluid technique, effortless runs, tasteful sensitivity, and careful control. He delights in dynamic contrasts and a beautiful variety of tone. There is a distinctly individual soul in his interpretations that speaks of a deep understanding and personal meaningfulness in his choice of works. He has a good navigation system, as if listening to a higher source, and playing what he hears.
His charisma and presence comes across well in his playing, courageously taking out the wildest horse in the stable – Mephosto. It was an exiting finale, full of suspense, drama, and expressive story-telling.
And then it got wilder. The encore depicts a Georgian “Olympic” sport that involves a really great skill of wine drinking and wrestling!!!
What a ride!