CHOPIN AT 200
Victoria Concert Hall
Wednesday to Saturday
(23-26 June 2010)
This review was published in The Straits Times on 28 June 2010.
The music of Frédéric Chopin was purportedly the uniting theme of this year’s PianoFest. However under the watch of new Artistic Director Lionel Choi, the sub-plot of showcasing the instrument’s newest glittering names took a firm hold. In a line-up with shades of the 2001 edition (21st Century Pianists), the young and gifted illuminated a bright and promising future for the art of piano performance.
Whatever one has heard of
Six years younger was the Briton Benjamin Grosvenor, cradle-snatched for his
In his early forties, Polish-born Piotr Anderszewski, who first appeared at PianoFest in 1997, is a veteran by comparison. Chopin was conspicuously absent from his well-balanced programme, in its place the pervasive spirit of J.S.Bach. As always, Anderszewski’s Bach is a thing of beauty. The English Suite No.5 brought out all these qualities: mastery of counterpoint, bell-like ringing clarity and rhythmic vitality in its seven movements. Completely different was Pole Karol Szymanowski’s Metopes, three impressionistic visions of Grecian maidens of mythology, fair and foul. An antidote to Ravel’s Ondine, these were seductive in a hypnotic and oblique manner, abetted by Anderszewski’s sensitive, tactile pianism that ranged from fleeting whispers to an orgiastic frenzy. Schumann’s Six Canonic Studies (Op.56) and Beethoven’s penultimate A flat major Sonata (Op.110) completed the picture, music hewn from common inspirations and carved out with the most crystalline of timbres. Never a harsh sound to be heard, Anderszewski turned sobbing lament in the sonata’s 3rd movement aria into a victory of hope and affirmation. It was this human and anti-virtuosic quality that made this recital the most satisfying of all. The next edition of