Juan Perez Floristan at the Wigmore Hall tonight for the Prizewinners concert of the Santander International Piano Competition. A strange programme confronted us with the first half the Liszt Sonata and the second four preludes by Debussy ,three by Gershwin and in between the Bartok Sonata and Ginasteras`s Argentinian Dances.
My first reaction ,of course,was to think it rather foolhardy or at the very least presumptuous to open a debut recital with such a monumental work. However in his hands it was a totally convincing and satisfying first half. A very mature intelligent reading allied to a luminosity of sound that allowed this masterpiece to unfold without any exaggerations or over passionate exclamations .In fact a quite overwhelmingly professional performance without the hystrionics of a Horowitz or the deep introspection of an Arrau but a real understanding of the structure of this masterpiece.
Blessed,obviously,with a large hand,strong fingers and relaxed arms his sound could be likened to cristal drops reminiscent of Michelangeli. It suited him well also in the second half. His Canope ,one of four preludes by Debussy, was the most remarkable performance in a notable debut recital. La Puerta del Vino was given a performance of orchestral proportions such was his feeling for the colour and style that he was able to produce. A Bartok Sonata of such clarity and precision one was reminded of Andor Foldes memorable recording.
Some subtle additions to Gershwin’s seductive second prelude added to the razz matazz that he found in the outer ones. Leading ,of course, to a sensational account of Ginasteras dances that brought the house down. Party time secured an encore charmingly introduced to the public :his own arrangement of a Flamenco to thank us and wish us goodbye. Well it was quite a farewell for this consummate artist still only twenty three so there will be many more occasions to hear him in London again …………the earlier the better. As Paloma O`Shea says in her programme introduction :”the combination of luminosity and musical depth make Juan a very special pianist”………..this remarkable promoter of the arts has hit the nail on the head that is for sure