Review of Ishay Shaer Lunchtime Piano Concert at St George's Bristol
Posted on: 2018-04-20
A serious force to be reckoned with on the contemporary music scene, Ishay Shaer is a vibrant, vital pianistic alchemist who injects every piece he plays with passion, soul and a puckish sense of showmanship.
On St George's beautiful Steinway piano, accomplished Israeli pianist Ishay Shaer performed a 60-minute set of beautiful compositions by some of classical music's most famous composers when he played at the Bristol venue on Thursday 19th April 2018.
Part of St George's fabulous series of lunchtime concerts, Shaer's stunning virtuosity and grasp of the material was by turns fluent, dazzling, spirited and utterly masterful as he threw himself enthusiastically headlong in to pieces by Beethoven, Debussy and Chopin.
Frequently technically tricky and complex, Shaer had the audience in the palms of his ivory-tinkling hands right from the very start with a piano-playing masterclass that was as warm and enrapturing as the day he was performing on, which happened to be one of the sunniest and most glorious days of the year thus far. And glorious and sunny couldn't be more apt to describe this fine pianist's approach to the works, which was never anything less than mesmerising.
Beethoven's Sonata No 30 in E was the opening, and arguably most imposing, of the pieces on the programme, its gutsy Vivace making way for the expressive, tender Adagio before a final, sprightly Prestissimo finale flourish. Two of Debussy's Etudes (studies) followed, in this case the impassioned number 5 and the astonishing number 6, a one-and-a-half minute blistering showcase of such speed that Shaer's fingers became dancing blur across the keyboard before a final, cheeky one-note conclusion.
Chopin's Sonata No 3 in B Minor was no less superb, with Shaer in total control throughout; from its lilting, wistful Allegro to its jaunty Scherzo, the hypnotically mellow Largo, and concluding with a breathtaking presto Finale which played out with such giddying alacrity and mind-blowing pianistic dexterity that the only possible reaction from the audience once it had finished were rousing cheers and deafening claps. Of course, nobody was leaving until Shaer gave us all an encore, which is happily did in the form of Brahm's pleasing, tuneful Intermezzo.
It's easy to see why Shaer is becoming widely regarded as one of the most important, leading pianists of his generation. His natural perception for and understanding of the material is extraordinary, making even the most difficult pieces look (as all great artists do) shoulder-shruggingly easy and casually effortless. His love of the music he performs is clear too, expressed through every note and articulation of feeling he has for the composers and their music.
And if you've never been before, you absolutely have to check out one of St George's ongoing series of lunchtime concerts at some point. Running for about an hour with no interval, they're the perfect classical music pit-stop and a riveting, exhilarating exposure to, as well as many well-known compositions, some of the lesser known, obscure works of the classical repertoire. Consider them a kind of fast food of the classical world; only the meat in these burgers is the finest, most succulent and delicious you'll get anywhere in town.
A serious force to be reckoned with on the contemporary music scene, Ishay Shaer is a vibrant, vital pianistic alchemist who injects every piece he plays with passion, soul and a puckish sense of showmanship. Keep your eyes peeled and your ears open; this chap's going to take the world by storm.
Jamie is a writer, blogger, journalist, critic, film fan, soundtrack nerd and all-round Bristolian good egg. He loves the music of Philip Glass, the art of Salvador Dali, the writings of Charles Bukowksi and Hunter S Thompson, the irreverence of Harry Hill, and the timeless, straw-chomping exuberance of The Wurzels. You can sometimes find him railing against a surging tide of passing cyclists, or gorging himself senseless on the Oriental delights of a Cosmos all-you-can-eat buffet.