I have known of Sasha Gavrylyuk’s existence as a pianist since 2000, when he won the first prize in the Hamamatsu International Piano Competition at the tender age of 16! It therefore gave me such pleasure to be able to book him to perform at Breinton.

Mega-scale sound-making with precise details - that is what we heard. It was unapologetically daring and thrillingly fulfilling. Sasha uncompromisingly pursued the maximum exposure of colours. From the moment he stepped up to the piano for the first time for rehearsal, he was experimenting with every method and every angle (the lid tightly shut, flatly open with a music stand lying down, open a little bit with a short stick, or fully open) to produce as many colours as possible that would satisfy the audience. In the end, he went for the full open-lid approach, in order to ensure that there would be no limit to the sound and no chance of muffling of any single note that that might hinder any of his interpretations in his performance.

Mozart Rondo was deliciously sweet with delicately nuanced twinkles, which gave the impression that all the notes were shining jewels sprinkling down on us. All the Chopin pieces (Ballade No. 2, Nocturne in C minor, Fantasy-Impromptu and Scherzo No. 1) contained drastic temperament changes, from thunderous passages to the most delicate heavenly moments. The central section of Chopin’s Fantasy-impromptu was desirably indulging with the melody sung with a bell-like tone.

Sasha’s unfaltering and unfailing technique was apparent in the monumental Rachmaninov’s Sonata. Although played with fiery passion and fierce velocity, all the notes were made sure to be heard and acutely pronounced. There was no corner of the room that the deeply engaging sounds did not reach. The second movement,  sandwiched between the gripping first and third movements, was gloriously sentimental.

Brahms’ Intermezzo concluded the evening – bliss.