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Fehér Elephánt
He once played Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No. 1 at the Academy of Music with injured and bleeding fingers: Alexander Toradze displayed his stunning and inspired virtuosity

According to critics worldwide, he is the no. 1 interpreter of Prokofiev’s early music, though admittedly few musicians can keep these pieces on their repertoires given that the composer’s fantastic skills as a pianist produced incredibly difficult pieces of music. Among these works, opus no. 1 in D-flat major stands out with its extraordinary leaps of sparkling wit. As if the avant-garde pianists of the 1960s haunted it, boisterous gestures, seemingly accidental changes and brutal depth light the ingenious fire of lofty confidence without limit. After all, everything is in its right place: the structure is well-proportioned, pregnant with musicality, and firmly turns the torrent of sparkling ideas into a winding course. Toradze identified himself easily and gracefully with Prokofiev’s fireworks, so much so that the youthful masterpiece sparkled with self-evident Mozartean naturalness, without a trace of unplayable bravura.

The blaze was not extinguished, but became as pure as the full-blown beauty of Piano Concerto No. 3. Motoric dynamism and lyrical parts alternate with natural grace, extremely fast tempos are followed by ethereal poetry. After the frenzied applause as proof of roaring success, the Maestro played a soft encore in heavenly piano. Symphony “Pathétique” gave me unexpected delight. Following its remarkable development, the wonderful Adagio theme returns in the clarinet solo of Ákos Ács played almost inaudibly and in a subconsciously perceptible manner at the end of a movement resembling a completely new symphony, while sublimating the beauty of pain into transcendent meaning.

The pseudo-waltz of the movement in 5/4 has no equal in music history, if excluding Take five by Paul Desmond. Its vividness created a happy and pleasant atmosphere, then the Vivace followed with an intense burst of exultation – the brilliant performance drew thunderous applause. Following his expressive gestures accompanying the dotted rhythm of the limping waltz in eighth notes, Iván Fischer interpreted even the resigned Adagio lamentoso with great empathy. The Festival Orchestra delivered a congenial and enriching performance of the popular piece.