CLASSICAL Andrew Wilde's Schubert / Beethoven recital Wigmore Hall, London

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The Independent Culture
Andrew Wilde devoted his Sunday evening recital to Schubert and Beethoven, beginning with Schubert's spacious Sonata in G, D894. Only a pianist of great confidence and maturity could hope to carry this off. The evening as a whole was not without minor accidents - little lapses of memory from which Wilde quickly recovered - but there were no major disasters, and the Schubert Sonata got the most consistently secure performance of all. Wilde has the gift to be simple, but he was never boring, and the Sonata's first movement, virtually suspending the passing of time, glowed with a warmth that almost grew into passion. His touch was deep and generous, but contained, and the Trio section of the Minuet melted deliciously.

A very different work followed, the heroic "Wanderer Fantasy", ardently propelled all the way through, if not dramatised as much as it can be. Wilde plumped for continuity of line, driving the music forward rather than exposing the grain of its rock-like structure, though he painted the "Wanderer" theme of the slow variation movement in splendidly gloomy colours, and the way it re-emerged at the end, after the intervening storm had abated, was magical. It all seemed to happen naturally, which didn't, alas, quite come about in the rather splashy finale. Still, the spirit was very willing.

In the first movement of Beethoven's Sonata in E flat, Op 27 No 1, Wilde scarcely needed to intervene, or so it seemed. The sudden Allegro between the easy-going outer sections of the first movement erupted like a natural force, and it was sheer joy to share Wilde's obvious pleasure and the ease of his playing, though it was never at all facile.

The sonata's companion, the famous "Moonlight", came up as fresh as new, with the tolling top line of the opening Adagio strongly, soberly, enunciated until the movement sank into ever more subtle nuances - not strained after but, as it were, just discovered.

As well as a great Chopin player, as he reminded us by playing the B flat minor Scherzo as his second encore, Wilde clearly has the necessary intellectual authority and depth of feeling for the Viennese classics - and his small slips are certainly eclipsed by the unforced beauty of his sound and the honesty of his expression. Adrian Jack