Shrewsbury School

Galin Ganchev (M V) performs Brahms' Piano Concerto No 2

Friday 22 November 2013

On 28th November, one of our most talented current music scholars, Galin Ganchev (M LVI) will give a performance of Brahms' 2nd Piano Concerto in his native Bulgaria with the Varna Philharmonic, comprising players from the Varna Opera Orchestra. The performance will be conducted by Shrewsbury's Director of Music, John Moore. Those lucky enough to be able to respond quickly to the announcement that at an open rehearsal, Galin and John Moore would be giving a lunchtime performance of the work on two pianos in the Alington Hall, were treated to 50 minutes of sheer delight on Monday 18th November - as Richard Hudson describes. 

Galin GanchevA cancelled meeting suddenly left me free to attend the Alington Hall on Monday lunchtime for a performance of Brahms’ gigantic second Piano Concerto, the orchestral parts transcribed for piano (by Emil Sauer) ably played, possibly even sight-read, by Director of Music John Moore, a virtuoso feat in itself.

At the extreme end of the repertoire even for the most hardened and experienced professionals, this is no work for the faint-hearted, and Galin had his audience enraptured from the word go. The thing about Galin that makes him so rewarding to listen to is that no allowances need to be made, no disbelief suspended, because he is only a 17-year-old schoolboy. He looks like a professional, moves like a professional and, boy, does he play like a professional.

From the lyrical opening arpeggios ushered in by that most exquisite of horn introductions (was that really just John Moore on the piano?) through to the welter of scales with which the concerto finished 50 minutes later, the audience was spellbound. There can be few works whose emotional range is so vast, and that a 17-year-old, with so little experience of life, can be equally at home in the gossamer pianissimo melodies in the slow movement, the playful interludes in the last movement and the muscular might of so much of the rest of the work is incredible, and all the more incredible when one reflects that professional pianists are not normally studying for their A levels in addition.

And what did Galin think of his performance? “It was OK,” was his characteristically laconic reply.

On Sunday 1st December, three days after Galin's performance, the Shrewsbury School musical 'Jekyll!' will be performed in the Varna Opera House by members of the Varna Children's Opera and singers from Varna Opera with a professional orchestra, conducted by Galin's father, Gancho Ganchev.

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