Teo Gheorghiu, Royal Concert Hall, Nottingham, 4****: by William Ruff



Teo Gheorghiu, piano


January 27 2019


Royal Concert Hall, Nottingham




Review: William Ruff



Sensitive, virtuosic, atmospheric playing from a young, cosmopolitan pianist


It’s not surprising that Teo Gheorghiu is a rather special pianist.  His father is Romanian, his mother Canadian; he was born in Switzerland and then studied in London and Philadelphia.  And in 2004, at the age of only 12 he starred in a film called Vitus, winning an award for best male debut.  So he can’t be short of life-experiences to underpin his music-making.

However, he wasn’t the only star on stage on Sunday morning.  The Royal Concert Hall took delivery of its new, very shiny Steinway last week and Teo was the first to play a solo recital on it, after its concerto baptism on Friday.  Both Teo and piano impressed the enthusiastic audience.

It was a well-planned programme, starting with one of the great virtuoso showpieces, the Romanian Rhapsody No 1  by George Enescu.  It started simply enough with a simple folk tune, but then rhythms got wilder and fistfuls of notes cascaded from the stage.  Teo’s Romanian heritage was there for everyone to hear: the accent authentic, the colours rich and vibrant.

Then came a series of Debussy Preludes framed by the famous Clair de Lune and La plus que lente. Teo’s colour palette was as subtle as it was wide, evoking miniature sound-worlds: dead leaves, dancers from ancient Greece, rag-time minstrels, wintry footsteps or far-away places and their sounds, scents and atmospheric landscapes.   The Prelude inspired by a postcard of the Moorish ‘Gate of Wine’ was particularly vivid with Teo seeming to capture two states of mind simultaneously – as sudden explosions of sound erupted into the midst of quiet, contemplative passages.

Ravel’s La Valse is a vivid evocation of the spirit of the Viennese waltz – but it’s so much more than that.  Ravel wrote of its spookier side: ‘the mad whirl of some fantastic and fateful carousel’.  Teo seemed completely immersed in its strangely exhilarating world – until he lost his bearings towards the end.  No matter: he bounced back for an Albeniz encore (Sevilla) and thunderous applause.




Teo Gheorghiu (piano) in Nottingham’s Sunday Morning Piano Series at the Royal Concert Hall

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