Sasha Grynyuk, piano
February 24 2019
Royal Concert Hall, Nottingham
Review: William Ruff
Witty brilliance mixed with soulful melancholy
Ukrainian pianist Sasha Grynyuk’s journey to Nottingham has taken a long time. Eight years, two months and two weeks, to be precise. His original booking by the RCH was scuppered by striking Spanish air traffic controllers. However, the wait was worth it and all went smoothly on Sunday morning.
He told the audience in his brief introductory chat that he would be playing for 55 minutes – and that’s exactly what he did. No fuss, no histrionics, no encore. Instead, much lovely, intelligent playing by an artist who can light plenty of fireworks when needed but whose subtle control of tonal colour is also impressive.
First came Beethoven’s first set of Bagatelles, short ‘trifles’ which the composer kept in a special folder and published at regular intervals throughout his life. Most of the pieces are light-footed, brilliant and witty, all qualities which Sasha Grynyuk relished but perhaps the two jewels of the set are the relaxed and lyrical fourth and sixth Bagatelles, the latter beautifully fading away into the distance at the end.
Then came Mozart’s D major Sonata, K.331, in a crisply articulated, intellectually alert performance. This was essentially happy, unclouded music and Sasha Grynyuk’s playing had plenty of bounce and brilliance both in the spirited opening movement and the graceful finale.
To finish, Sasha played a selection of five of Rachmaninov’s Preludes Op. 32. These are difficult pieces, not just because of the virtuoso pyrotechnics required, but also because their effect doesn’t depend on big tunes but rather on their huge range of moods, their wide palette of colours and the demands they make not only on the performer’s brain but on his muscles too. This is music whose soulful lyricism is tinged with Russian melancholy – and Sasha Grynyuk proved himself to be master of both.
Sasha Grynyuk (piano) in Nottingham’s Sunday Morning Piano Series at the Royal Concert Hall