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Andsnes’s commanding efficiency of Beethoven’s Op.110 is a spotlight of a assorted Wigmore Corridor recital – Seen and Heard Worldwide


United Kingdom Varied: Leif Ove Andsnes (piano). Wigmore Corridor, London, 20.11.2022. (CC)

Leif Ove Andsnes © Helge Hansen

Aleksandr VustinLamento (1974)
Janáček – Piano Sonata I.X.1905, ‘From the Road’ (1905/6)
SilvestrovBagatelle, Op.1/3 (2003)
Beethoven – Piano Sonata No.31 in A-flat main, Op.110 (1821/22)
DvořákPoetic Tone Photos, Op.85 (1889)

Leif Ove Andsnes has been taking this programme round Europe: and from the Wigmore Corridor, he goes to Bruxelles (November 23) and thence Bordeaux (November 25).

Andsnes is likely one of the most clever pianists on the circuit proper now. It was clear how a lot thought had gone into this: the primary half made excellent sense because it moved in the direction of a commanding efficiency of Beethoven’s Op.110. The tortured strains of the Janáček, the purity of the Silvestrov and the dolorous Vustin every examined features of emotional depth and ache earlier than the solace of Beethoven’s nice A-flat main Sonata.

The idea of this primary half was what Andsnes himself has known as ‘frighteningly related’, with the Vustin and the Silvestrov appearing as prelude and postlude to Janáček’s astonishing sonata, written in response to the loss of life of a Czech employee in 1905 by the hands of Austrian troops who had been making an attempt to quell an indication calling for a Czech college in Brno. Andsnes hyperlinks that to occasions when he wrote his personal programme be aware in late September 2022, when younger Iranian demonstrators had been being killed in Tehran, ‘and courageous Russians had been out voicing their resistance to the devastating struggle that threatens their lives’.

Born in 1943, Alexandr Vustin (typically rendered as Wustin, typically Voustine), was a pupil of Grigori Samuilovich Frid (1915-2012). His music has been championed by Gidon Kremer’s Kremerata Baltica. He was clearly fascinated by sonority – strive his impressionistic Musique pour l’ange for saxophone, cello and vibraphone, for example. One can hear that side additionally in Lamento, with its ostinato left-hand and aching right-hand melodies. Even consonances appear inconsolable. Andsnes’s efficiency was completely judged, together with a spectacularly even trill.

The Janáček was elegiac and exquisite. Andsnes additionally understands the necessity for pulse on this music that may in any other case appear too diffuse. Price noting, too, the standard of the instrument he was enjoying, a wonderfully ready Steinway, significantly in its higher registers. The second motion contained what can solely be known as a pianistic Urschrei; The response was Ukrainian composer Valentin Silvestrov’s Bagatelle, Op.1/3. The piece has a chic purity but in addition a way of melancholy that appeared to lengthen the Janáček whereas concurrently taking it heavenwards. The piece is successfully a four-minute sluggish waltz, out of which emerged Beethoven’s chic penultimate sonata. It was the timeless features of this that lodged within the reminiscence: the rapt, hymnic opening, the chic evenness of the arpeggiations, the blissful Adagio ma non troppo resulting in a fugue that reached organ-like grandeur.

How you can comply with that first half? Properly, Andsnes’s resonance with Czech music (he had a Czech piano instructor in Norway) continued with Dvořák’s 1889 set of 13 Poetic Tone Photos. Andsnes’s new Sony recording of it is a main achievement, convincing from first to final. Surprisingly, in an inversion of the anticipated, Andsnes was much less persuasive stay, regardless of many moments of magic and a technical degree that was near-perfect. His contact in ‘Toying’ couldn’t be bettered. However maybe as a result of he has been touring this, the recording really sounds brisker. That isn’t to say there weren’t moments of supreme magnificence. Most spectacular was the penultimate piece, ‘At a Hero’s Grave’, huge in scope and really a lot placing me in thoughts of Liszt’s ‘Vallée d’Obermann’ from the Swiss yr of journey. However he may additionally convey a type of heady pleasure within the ’Peasant’s Ballad’ (No.5). We definitely heard the excellence of the piano’s uppermost reaches once more within the eighth piece (’Goblin’s Dance’). The ’Bachanalia’ (No.10) had character and virtuosity (though, once more, extra so in his recording). Fascinating, too, how the ultimate piece, ‘On the Holy Mountain’, appears to confer with Chopin’s C sharp minor Scherzo in its alternation of sonorous chords and filigree. How becoming that the composer opts to shut the cycle in a meditative style – a cycle that, whereas containing some virtuosity, is as a substitute a fantastically conceived complete that strikes by way of a multiplicity of moods in the direction of this superb, glowing conclusion.

Leif Ove Andsnes did persuade us that we have to hear extra of Dvořák’s solo piano music, definitely. And do get hold of the recording – it is rather particular.

Colin Clarke

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