Review: Florian Mitrea at St Johns Smith Square

Some thoughts that arose during 2018 Royal Overseas League Keyboard Final winner Florian Mitrea’s St Johns Smith Square recital this evening.

1. Mitrea is an assertive player, with a love of drama articulated with an assertive touch, a brilliantly bright white tone, and some breathtaking dynamic contrasts.

2. Those moments when he holds silence before delicately placing a pianissimo chord command terrifying moments of self-reflection.

3. He has tremendous facility – taut, bright and crisp – especially in his right hand.

4. Mitrea loves grand pianistic flourishes. He’s embraces those points in the score that demand the fingers glide right across the keyboard.

5. He is a lovable showman with an excited smile and bright twinkling eyes. He is captivating presence on stage who works hard to make everyone feel welcome and included.

6. He is undoubtedly most at home with the music of the relatively unheard of Contastinescu. In both of these works, Mitrea appeared and sounded his most self-assured. Mitrea natural exuberance was more focussed and powerful.

7. For all that exuberance, there’s a compelling unfussiness about Mitrea’s style. This makes for a greater sense of inclusion. In the quieter sections there’s a heightened sense of intimacy that contradicts the scale of the interior.

8. It must be possible to describe artistry with positive regard, maintain a sense of objectivity, and shake the hand of the artist afterwards.

9. Musicians do an odd thing bestowing credence on the words of a critic. I think critics paid or not paid should build their own audience based on the quality of their judgment, the sincerity of the way they articulate it, and the close distance they hold between themselves and the audience. Yes we hold artists to account when reporting on their performance, but we’re also there to celebrate and advocate the art form.

10. I went backstage to meet the artist for the first time in my concert-going life. I was invited. It felt like a massive intrusion at first. But once I realised others were doing the same it seemed rather lovely to show appreciation and say ‘thank you’.