A programme of wonderfully contrasting works exercised the imagination whilst a mixed audience, young and old, gathered in Symphony Hall to hear one of music’s heroes, Norwegian pianist Lief Ove Andsnes.
The biggest compliment paid to any musician is that they do not get in the way of the music. Tonight’s soloist entered, bowed and began:quietly unassuming but impressively professional. Haydn’s wistful Sonata in C Minor opened the recital, seamless phrasing performed with serenity. Unusual Haydn with building tensions following a serene Andante movement. This led to mysterious harmonies over fearsome running semiquavers ending unexpectedly back in sombre mood.
Surprisingly there are only rare folk flavours in Bartok’s Suite Opus 14, but plenty of manic scampering over the keyboard giving the impression of four rather than two hands. An awesome technique led to the final poignant Sostenuto movement; provokingly slow and desolate.
It is impossible to hear Debussy’s Images without imagining French Impressionist paintings, magical ‘Reflections in water’ created largely with translucent use of the sustaining pedal, the consummate beauty of Rameau and the final Movement created with perfectly graduated expressive chords; truly evocative, truly Debussy.
More seemingly effortless techniques flowed with heart-stopping Chopin. Familiar waltzes seemed to move effortlessly from whirling romance to gentle melody. A true communicator: here is a pianist not tempted to overdo rubatos, but melting the heart nevertheless from a gentle Nocturne lullaby contrasting with two Ballades – more brilliant expertise for final hammering octaves.
The inevitable ovation earned us extra superb Chopin and a Rachmaninov gem.