Bezhod Abduraimov, Wigmore Hall, London
Wednesday 05 May 2010
The 18-year-old Uzbek pianist Bezhod Abduraimov powered his way through last year’s London International Piano Competition as though plugged into some mystical mains.
His delivery of Prokofiev’s Third Piano Concerto was electrifyingly physical, combining liberated exuberance with astonishing technical control. This Wigmore recital was one of the spoils of victory, and much was riding on it.
Opening with Chopin’s 24 Preludes, he demonstrated from the start a rare capacity to characterise these variegated tone-poems, each of which is a world in itself. His sound was big and firm, but wonderfully yielding when the occasion demanded; each piece was fastidiously shaped, segueing without pause into the next. He delivered the ballroom grace of the seventh as an answer to the joyous whirl which had preceded it; the ‘Raindrop’ prelude became a gentle landscape of receding and advancing perspectives, while the ‘Presto con fuoco’ which followed was a dazzling display of high-octane virtuosity. The concluding ‘Allegro appassionato’ lived ferociously up to its name. Everything reflected crystal-clear intention, everything felt fresh.
Next came a piece which most pianists won’t risk their necks with: Vladimir Horowitz’s pyrotechnical embellishments on Liszt’s elaboration of Saint-Saens’s satanic ‘Danse macabre’. Yet the way Abduraimov hurled these fistfuls of notes around, he might have been taking a stroll in the park. And a thought arose: could this fresh-faced child be a new Horowitz?
The next piece in his programme arrived like a googly, in the form of the rarely-performed ‘Capriccio on the Departure of his Beloved Brother’ by an 18-year-old JS Bach, which actually sounded more like Couperin. The only purpose of this strange piece of programme-music seemed to be to let us see how Abduraimov handled the Baroque mode. (Answer: less comfortably than Romantic mode.) Finally he let rip with a stunning performance of Prokofiev’s Piano Sonata No 6, and we were reminded why he won that competition: with the music of this fundamentally heartless composer, he convinces his audience through sheer artistry.
His first encore was a short Tchaikovsky piece played with disarming expressiveness. His second - aha! - was Horowitz’s vertiginous ‘Carmen Fantasy’, in a performance so massively accomplished that the entire hall - despite not being used to doing such things - rose to its feet. Bezhod Abduraimov, who takes his bow with both hands modestly on heart, is a quintessential showman, but of the greatest refinement. And he just might be the new Horowitz.
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Half of young women unable to ‘locate vagina’ and 65% find it difficult to say the word
- 2 Perez Hilton apologises for Jennifer Lawrence naked photo leak
- 3 A teacher speaks out: 'I'm effectively being forced out of a career that I wanted to love'
- 4 Mexican woman becomes world’s 'oldest person' at 127
- 5 Jennifer Lawrence 'naked sex video' will be leaked threatens 4Chan celebrity photo hacker
Rotherham child sex abuse scandal: Labour Home Office to be probed over what Tony Blair's government knew - and when
What do immigrants really think of Britain? Polish immigrant's Reddit post goes viral
Ashya King: Parents of five-year-old boy refused permission to visit him in hospital and denied bail at Spanish court
With Douglas Carswell joining Ukip, my party has taken another giant step forward
When elitism grips the top of British society to this extent, there is only one answer: abolish private schools
Ashya King: 'Cruel NHS has not given us the treatment we need', says father of five-year-old with brain tumour who fled to Spain