David Silkoff


YouTube Lunchtime Recital

Wednesday 7 April 2021 – 1:00 pm

recitalListen to the recital on YouTube


Mozart Fantasy in D minor K397
Beethoven Sonata Op. 27 no 2 in C# minor Moonlight 1st movement
Beethoven Op.13 in C minor Pathétique 2nd movement
Chopin Nocturne Op 9 in Eb Waltz in C minor
Debussy Clair De Lune
Manuel de Falla Ritual Fire Dance

Music lovers who regularly attend lunchtime recitals at Brentwood Cathedral were delighted to hear about another piano recital by video-link to be given by David Silkoff.  David gave his first virtual recital for Brentwood Cathedral Music last July, so it was a pleasure to hear him again today, on 7th April, 2021.  He has performed on numerous occasions at the Cathedral in recent years, and we are particularly grateful to him for sharing his favourite piano pieces with us during these challenging times.

Nina How, the Cathedral’s concert organiser and marketing assistant, introduced David’s recital in the Song School and extended a warm welcome to everyone, reminding us that it has been a while since we have been able to meet for live concerts and refreshments afterwards.  We all hope that live performances will soon resume in the beautiful atmosphere of Brentwood Cathedral.

David Silkoff is an experienced soloist, accompanist and teacher and his full biography can be found at the end of this review.  He performed today’s recital from his music studio in Hainault, Essex and, with a calm and engaging manner, described the music he was about to play for us.  His first piece was the Fantasia in D Minor K397 by Mozart (1756-1791), the last ten bars of which Mozart did not complete.  Composed in 1782, it remains one of Mozart’s more popular pieces and was completed by August Eberhard Muller, a great admirer of Mozart, whose version is favoured by most pianists.  David’s gentle pianistic touch in this improvisational piece revealed the contrasting moods with the recurring, haunting theme.  Mozart transports us to another realm through this poignant melody, grounding us in the short lighter interludes, before we hear the final thrilling flurries of Muller’s ‘missing bars’ in the sparkling key of D Major.

After giving his thoughts and advice about late Classical piano technique, David then played a very moving interpretation of the second movement of the Pathetique Sonata, Op. 13 in C Minor by Beethoven (1770-1827), and it was clear that he felt completely at ease with this slow movement, which is often performed separately at concerts.  It was originally named ‘Grand Sonata Pathetique’ by Beethoven’s publisher and dedicated to his friend, Prince Karl von Lichnowsky.  This was an appropriate piece to follow Mozart, as it has been compared with Mozart’s Sonata No. 14.  The ‘Adagio cantabile’ appears as a calm oasis between the other movements, with its lilting, mesmerising theme, which has been cherished by countless pianists and audiences since it was written in 1798.   It is often heard in various genres and integrated by various musicians, including the 80s pop star, Billy Joel, who used it in one of his songs.  In David’s performance we were enthralled from the beginning, embracing the brief change of melody of the middle section, which returns to the soothing major theme with its gently supporting rhythm, delivered with fitting sensitivity.

Last year was the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth, and David chose another popular piece from the Beethoven repertoire: the opening movement from the ‘Moonlight Sonata’ Op. 27 No. 2 in C Sharp Minor.  Dedicated to Countess Giulietta Guicciardi, it was completed in 1801 and was given its name after Beethoven’s death, when German Romantic poet Ludwig Rellstab published a review comparing the dreaminess of the first movement with the image of a boat in the moonlight on Switzerland’s Lake Lucerne.  David told his listeners that Beethoven did not intend it to be played too slowly, but even today we hear a range of tempi, as pianists interpret the sentiments of this section of the ‘Moonlight Sonata’ through their own personal understanding of the music.  David’s expressive playing of the haunting theme reached out to us over the sustained triple timing of the accompanying left hand, seamlessly and directly to our many Internet screens!

David then talked about the different dance styles of Chopin (1810-1849) and the “subtle rubato” required for Chopin’s music, before he performed two pieces by the composer.  The first was the Waltz in C Sharp Minor Op. 64 N. 2, composed in 1847 in Rondo Form, which was given a fresh and uplifting elegance by David, taking his time in the opening melancholic bars before a charming light-hearted journey held our attention in wistful reflection.  As David informed us, Chopin was influenced and inspired by Bellini, Rossini and Donizetti; this is so clearly felt in the vast range of melodies we hear in Chopin’s works.  Interestingly, Chopin’s waltzes were different from the earlier Viennese waltzes, as they were written for performing rather than dancing.  Chopin’s first Waltz in Op. 64 is the well-known ‘Minute Waltz’, and the second Waltz in C Sharp Minor we heard today was later orchestrated by Alexander Glazunov for the ballet ‘Les Sylphides’.

David then performed Chopin’s famous Nocturne in E Flat Major Op. 9, No. 2, which was completed and published in 1832 and is a popular concert piece.  Chopin wrote twenty-one nocturnes between 1827 and 1846, considered to be amongst the finest short piano solos and important in contemporary concert repertoire.  The gentle lullaby feel of the E Flat Major nocturne gives the pianist the freedom to play out the theme in a very individual manner and to please listeners of all ages, as David certainly demonstrated in his superb interpretation today.

We were then treated to another lunar inspired piece, this time ‘Clare de Lune’, by the Impressionist French composer, Debussy (1862-1918).  It is the third movement from ‘Suite Bergamasque’, which Debussy started writing in 1890 and was published in 1905.  Before playing, David gave us interesting background to this piece, with the portrayal of “clowns relaxing in the moonlight”, and with his gentle and unhurried style he concluded our outer-worldly thoughts with renewed appreciation of ‘Clare de Lune’.

For his finale, David chose ‘Ritual Fire Dance’ by the late Romantic Spanish composer, Manuel De Falla (1876-1946), written in 1915: a fiery and passionate piece with thrilling effects.  Its origins are in De Falla’s ballet, ‘El amor brujo’, in which a gypsy girl is haunted by the ghost of her husband and dances around the fire until the evil is gone.  All this was depicted in a few minutes of exciting, dynamic and vibrant playing, brought to a dramatic close in the final thunderous chords!

On behalf of Andrew Wright, Director of Music at Brentwood Cathedral, and Nina How, our concert organiser, we would like to thank David Silkoff for his outstanding recital, which was heard by more than five hundred online listeners.  We very much look forward to hearing David playing again at Brentwood Cathedral.  In spite of our distances during the last year, our hearts and minds have united in appreciation of wonderful music, and with an awareness of each other’s presence, far and wide!

Julia Bentham

David Silkoff – Biography

David Silkoff has enjoyed a successful and extensive career as a performer and teacher for more than thirty years, beginning his studies when he won a Junior Exhibition to the Guildhall School of Music, where he studied with Ieuan Roberts.  He also studied with Lina Collins, a pupil of Mathilde Verne, who was a pupil of Clara Schumann!  He was a full-time student at the Royal College of Music, studying with Kendal Taylor and Cyril Smith; during this time, he won the Martin Scholarship for further study.  He also studied at the Royal Academy of Music, where he won the Lloyd Hartley Prize. In 1975 David gave a successful debut at the Wigmore Hall, which was highly praised in the ‘Review of London Recitals’, mentioning his “glowing technique” and “sensitive playing”.

David has performed as a soloist around Britain and abroad and is highly sought after as an accompanist in duos and chamber music, which includes the Purcell Room and other venues.  He is a regular examination accompanist and also for ‘Young Musician of the Year’ competitions.  In addition, David enjoys accompanying at corporate events, such as weddings and light music events.  His repertoire ranges from Bach and Beethoven to Schoenberg and Ligeti.  In 2015 he gave the premiere performance of Schoenberg’s ‘Verklärte Nacht’ transcribed for piano solo.

He has given recitals at the Forge in Camden and for the London Schubert Society.  Over the years he has performed with King’s College Orchestra, London, as well as Essex Symphony and Brentwood Philharmonic Orchestras.  In 2010 he played Brahms 1st Piano Concerto with the Woodford Symphony Orchestra, with whom he also performed Rachmaninov’s 2nd Piano Concerto, for their 60th Anniversary in 2013.  In 2014 he played the Mendelssohn G minor Piano Concerto with the Aminta Orchestra at St. James, Piccadilly for their 30th Anniversary Celebration Concert.  David currently has a busy teaching career privately and in schools in the SE of England.

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Photos – Graham Hillman

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