Review: Leif Ove Andsnes, Snape Proms,

Leif Ove Andsnes, Piano Recital, Snape Maltings, August 14th

A piano recital has the potential to be one of the most satisfying and rewarding experiences. With two of the greatest composers for the piano, a world class pianist and a full house your evening is set fair.

The term ‘groundbreaking’ can be applied to many of Beethoven’s works but his magnificent Waldstein Sonata is certainly one of them. The expansive confidence, virtuosity and scale of the music are breathtaking and Leif Ove Andsnes captured all the monumental qualities with his secure tempi and crystal-clear passage work. The urgent opening repetitions set the scene but there were also beautiful moments of repose with the second subject. The slow movement had a profound calm with the dotted three note figure pointing us to the finale in which the pianist gave a stunning display of technique, not least in maintaining the trills.

The subsequent sonata (opus 54) is smaller in scale and perhaps easy to underestimate but Leif’s playing, particularly of the unusual finale was sufficiently compelling to bring the work out of the shadows and demonstrate its value and originality.

The second half was devoted to Chopin and began with the three waltzes op 70 which, although published together, come from different periods. In fact they were remarkably varied and satisfying, ranging from wistful to brilliant to romantic and Andsnes captured every nuance. The B major Nocturne, with its unexpected harmonic shifts and subtle changes of mood was particularly satisfying. Two of Chopin’s more extended works – the third and first Ballades and the opus 42 Waltz completed the programme. The A flat Ballade had a light, easy grace and the more outward looking G minor piece had a strong sense of purpose and direction. Andsnes showed himself to be an intelligent and perceptive interpreter of this sensitive and poetical composer.

This was an excellent recital and thoroughly enjoyed by the capacity audience.

Gareth Jones

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