Reviews of the concerts in Montreal with Rafael Payare and the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal – OSM (21.09.2023 ; 23.09.2023)
🔷 Bachtrack.com / Alexander Malofeev dazzles in mixed Orchestre symphonique de Montréal program.
Occasionally child prodigies fail to sufficiently mature with respect to the profundity of their interpretations. Beyond a doubt this is not the case with superstar Alexander Malofeev who was nothing short of spectacular in Prokofiev’s Third Piano Concerto with the Orchestre symphonique de Montréal. Malofeev had performed the same concerto with a different Montreal orchestra fairly recently; both performances were technically flawless but this account revealed significantly more musical insights – in one notable instance by evoking a preternatural mood in the fourth variation of the middle movement.
Malofeev is a marvel to witness, showcasing impeccable technique that seems to transcend the limitations of the instrument itself. Yet, what sets him apart is his ability to infuse each note with a profound sense of expression, thereby weaving an impactful narrative. This captivating blend of piano mastery left the audience spellbound. In this rendition, the opening clarinet work was sublimely rendered by Todd Cope and Alain Desgagné. Rafael Payare engineered a dynamic culmination of the first movement. Unfortunately, at times the accompanying forces drowned out the soloist. Malofeev’s encore, a rhapsodic excerpt from Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake, proved that in the hands of a virtuoso, the piano is more than able to make the most of a gentle cantabile melody.
By Ian Cochrane, 24 September 2023
🔷 Le Devoir / The revenge of Alexander Malofeev.
The OSM concert on Thursday evening marked the 60th anniversary of the Place des Arts. The occasion was celebrated by an evening of musical excellence in many respects, on the part of the orchestra and its guest soloist.
In March 2022, the OSM suffered the worst media fiasco in its history when, under pressure from activists in the Ukrainian community, it withdrew the young pianist Alexander Malofeev from its programme, at a time when, like inquisitors in their Western comfort zone, some demanded that all Russian artists “position themselves” regardless of the risks they might incur or pose to their families back home.
The young artist who had written sensitively a few days earlier “Honestly, the only thing I can do at the moment is pray and cry” (among other words of rare intelligence, including this one: “Spreading hatred will not improve the situation, it will only cause even more suffering”) had been made a scapegoat. The entire musical and media world was furious with the OSM for having sacrificed him.
The tightrope walker.
The least we can say is that Malofeev is not resentful. And here he is, 18 months later, on stage at the Maison Symphonique with our musical director. And his presence did not go unnoticed. The Piano Concerto No. 3 by Prokofiev that he gave us was like no other. It was the craziest, the riskiest, that we have heard since Béroff, Ashkenazy and Argerich in the 70s to Lang Lang and Trifonov, marked by insane tempos in movements I and III, perfectly adopted and enthusiastically conveyed by Rafael Payare.
Malofeev doesn’t have the sonic weight of Béroff, Matsuev, Bronfman or Toradze, but he makes up for it with his eel-like responsiveness, and his intoxication and finesse. The intoxication of the tempos, as we mentioned, and the finesse of the dynamic calibration of the more meditative episodes. This tightrope-walking Concerto No. 3, which at times left you breathless, even surpassed the impressive prowess of Trifonov-Nagano. Among the alternative visions, there remains Argerich’s unique style and the more thunderous Matsuev-style versions.
By Christophe Huss, 22 September 2023