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Review: Piotr Anderszewski, Piano, Aldeburgh Festival, Snape Maltings, 13 June

PUBLISHED: 10:38 16 June 2017

The Snape Maltings Concert Hall, home of the Aldeburgh Festival. Picture: JEREMY YOUNG

The Snape Maltings Concert Hall, home of the Aldeburgh Festival. Picture: JEREMY YOUNG

Archant

An evening originally planned to contain Mozart, Janacek and Chopin in fact added some Schumann at the expense of three Chopin mazurkas.

The opening of Schumann’s ‘Geistervariationen’, stately and sonorous, was well moulded by Anderszewski, the layered writing clear and balanced. The variations maintain much the same tempo and interest lies largely in the decorative accompaniment to the original theme. The playing was controlled and elegant. Anderszewski moved quickly on to Mozart’s C minor fantasy, almost running the two pieces together. One of Mozart’s more serious utterances, it was given a strong and dramatic performance. The C minor sonata K457, written some months before the fantasia but published simultaneously with it, has a fairly serious mood in the outer movements with a more relaxed slow movement and there was a sense of serious purpose in the performance.

Piano music forms a relatively small, though significant part of Janacek’s output. ‘On an Overgrown Path’ originated in a series of Slav melodies for the harmonium, later translated to the piano. They are generally short, pithy and impressionistic pieces with echoes of Debussy. They were well played, the pianist capturing the rapid mood changes and particularly the colour and energy of the dance-inspired pieces. Once again Anderszewski moved straight on with Chopin’s three mazurkas op 59. Although not the most memorable of his works they were played with elegance and brio. The Polonaise-Fantasy is more extended and profound; we were drawn into the shifting sands and held suspended until the flurry of activity.

Notwithstanding a pianist of the front rank, four major composers and a fine piano in a splendid venue, for me the evening did not quite reach the heights. This may have been partly due to the fact that there was relatively little in the way of memorable tunes or bravura display. Nevertheless there was much to savour and enjoy.

Gareth Jones

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