United Kingdom Chopin, Murail, and Beethoven: François-Frédéric Man (piano). Wigmore Corridor, London, 3.10.2022. (MB)
Chopin – Nocturne in C minor, Op.48 No.1; Ballade No.1 in G minor, Op.23; Piano Sonata No.3 in B minor, Op.58
Tristan Murail – Impression, soleil levant
Beethoven – Piano Sonata No.32 in C minor, Op.111
On this Wigmore Corridor recital, François-Frédéric Man took a contemporary have a look at well-known piano masterpieces, and introduced a piece new this 12 months, written for him by Tristan Murail. Devoted to the reminiscence of two shut mates, Nicholas Angelich and Lars Vogt, it was an fascinating live performance in one of the best sense, with nothing taken as learn and far to have one suppose.
The primary half was devoted to Chopin, opening with the C minor Nocturne, Op.48 No.1. Man married concord to rhythm in its first part, instantly conveying a way of the inexorable. Dignified, by no means remotely sentimental, it each ready the way in which for and necessitated distinction in an ever-broadening center part, which in flip resulted in a modified return that evoked the spirit fairly than the letter of synthesis. The G minor Ballade, each grandly rhetorical and intimate in its whispered confidences, evinced kinship with the Nocturne, while rising freed from evident relation to any specific pianistic custom. Once more, it was resolutely sentimental, even to the purpose at which I shouldn’t have minded slightly old-world appeal; however this was not an old-world efficiency, and why ought to or not it’s? It spoke and more and more sang with an integrity, hearth, and miraculous concision that had been its personal: extra essential than being note-perfect.
The B minor Sonata started with a directness troublesome not to think about as ‘Beethovenian’, although naturally quickly proceeded in a unique route. The primary motion jogged my memory at occasions of Liszt, and never solely (I believe) on account of the important thing. Not that it was particularly seductive; this was, if something, a efficiency notable for its lack of fragrance. Paradoxically, one needed to hear for its lyricism; but, when one did, it was there. Likewise within the scherzo, although maybe much less surprisingly there: it sounded as if a bit of post-impressionist play with mild on water — generally fairly troubled water. A forthright Largo led to a marauder icy even in warmth of a finale. A lot was surprising, but by no means did it sound unreasonable. Man had one hear.
Murail’s Impression, soleil levant appeared, particularly within the context of such performances, extra preoccupied with the character of sound: usually, and piano sound specifically. Extra versatile, even melting, each contained in the piano and on its keys, it nonetheless had melodic strains sound as if taken from Chopin and positioned in radically new harmonic context. Sometimes, the ghost of Debussy rattled its chains, however the way in which of listening to inspired was totally different. This appeared to me a commanding efficiency, even on a primary listening to (for me) presenting the work because it ought to.
Lastly, we heard Beethoven’s final piano sonata, Op.111, a piece vastly admired by Chopin (amongst many others). Its opening diminished seventh leaps sounded as if on mortgage from Chopin or Liszt (the B minor Sonata specifically), providing a superb sense of transition to Beethoven’s world: steeped right here as a lot within the fantasias, particularly that additionally in C minor, of Mozart as within the Romanticism of Beethoven’s personal century (by now). Regardless of the antecedents or successors, that fantasia-like high quality and recognisably Beethovenian fury had been strongly to the fore within the first motion. Phrases melted, to make certain, but inside that originally constructed body. Flashes throughout the canvas — hanging readability of counterpoint within the growth, extraordinary harmonic twists within the recapitulation — had me as soon as extra imagining I used to be listening to this music for the primary time. The Arietta that opens the second and closing motion sang with simply the fitting type of quiet dignity. Man’s ear (and fingers) for telling element ensured that, once more, this corresponded solely to a brand new imaginative and prescient, or so it appeared, beholden to no specific view from the previous. The primary variation continued and intensified; its successor labored magic that sounded, for all its familiarity, as soon as extra new, the third variation nonetheless extra so. And so, the wondrous voyage continued, neither totally acquainted nor unfamiliar. Via a gossamer filigree extending already, so it appeared, past Mendelssohn, a snow-like brilliance on the white keys, a rapt sublimity that would by no means be mistaken for anybody else’s, and a lot extra, there was little doubt this was Beethoven — the merciless lack of whom within the pandemic 12 months of 2020 a few of us nonetheless really feel and maybe at all times will. But this was not pious or treasured Beethoven; it lived and breathed in a approach that rightly took nothing with no consideration.