The Fantasie of Louis Lortie
Two pianos on the stage of the Wigmore Hall and a note in the programme to explain why.
I remember a while back him playing a monumental performance of the Brahms F minor Sonata and pointing to the name on the side of the piano to demonstrate what a wonder the Bosendorfer was.
In Rome the same Brahms this time on Steinway. You can see his reasoning here .
So tonight we were treated to the magical Schubert Fantasie Sonata on the Bosendorfer and the equally imposing Chopin Fantasie on a Fazioli.
Both superb performances from this real thinking musician .
Rather a delusion hearing him play all the 27 Chopin Studies in Rome recently and thinking that this is the realm of the young virtuosi.
Although each study was played magnificently I could not help thinking all the way through of what we were missing from this remarkable musician in terms of intelligence and architecture.
The real all too rare realm of the Gods.
Could there be a more magical opening than the Schubert G major Sonata?
Here there was just that magic where every note spoke in a musical journey that filled the entire first half of the concert at the Wigmore Hall.
The Bosendorfer gave just that ring to the treble because of the resonance from the bass so much part of this piano.A ring that allowed an almost complete legato that allowed the long lines of Schubert to be just as expressive as the human voice in his lieder.
The spell only slightly broken in the few moment when Lortie allowed himself a little too much muscle for this great elusive song.
There are passages that could almost be Beethoven but they are still pure Schubert and you have to be a very sensitive trapeze artist to venture into the realms of the Gods without breaking the spell.
So many memorable things from the magical opening to the almost teasing Allegretto final.
The final few bars almost Mendelssohnian in their lightweight fantasy played to absolute perfection .
And the final nostalgic few bars allowing its whispered farewell to float into the absolute silence of an audience mesmerized by this extraordinary performance .
Only Mitsuko Uchida recently in the Festival Hall could captivate an audience for the almost forty minutes of concentration needed.
The second half dedicated to Chopin on the equally magnificent Fazioli piano that was patiently waiting in the wings.
He is recording the entire works on Chandos.
Interesting recordings in that the Ballades and the Impromptus are alternated with the Nocturnes and not just lumped together as is usually the case.
A real thinking musician who wants to share his musical journey with us.
And so it was tonight the Fantasie op 49 and the Polonaise in F sharp minor op 44 alternating with mazukas not only by Chopin but also by Thomas Ades.
Like his great predecessor Artur Rubinstein who in the middle of an all Chopin recital would play four Mazurkas by his friend Karol Szymanowski.
Almost like having a lemon sorbet in the middle of a sumptuous feast .Opening ones ears even more attentively to the marvels that were on display.
Some amazing sounds from the Ades Mazurka op 27.n.2 .
Almost like Ligeti in its spider like escapade over the entire range of the keyboard.
Some wonderfully luminous sounds from this very fine instrument too.
The actual Chopin Mazukas were a little too explosive for my taste and I would have appreciated a little less richness in the louder sections.
A very strange staccato opening of the Fantasie made me want to rush and look at the score.
Otherwise it was a very powerful poetic performance almost taking a wrong turning which would have taken us back to the beginning and an expert change of gear brought us to the magical final bars.
The second Mazurka by Ades op 27.n.1 did sound a little like a nightmare dream where everything bar the kitchen sink was thrown very expertly at us.
The Polonaise in F sharp minor I felt could have had a more sonorous sound to the octaves that abound and maybe the Bosendorfer might have been better.However the elusive mazuka like middle section was made to speak as rarely it can in lesser hands.
A single encore of one of the 27 studies I had heard in Rome recently. An absolutely magical performance of the “Aeolian Harp” so aptly described by Charles Halle when Chopin himself played it in England and was here brought to life again in the hands of this great musician.