Christian Zacharias (*****)/ Ruby Hughes, Julius Drake (****)
Wigmore Hall, London
Monday 14 January 2013
The German pianist Christian Zacharias has a curious way of acknowledging applause: he walks in little circles round the piano-stool, flapping his hands and muttering to himself as though he’s not sure how well he’s done, barely seeming to notice the audience.
And his opening manner is casual, beginning a piece before he’s even properly sat down, which gave the Andante of Beethoven’s Opus 26 funeral-march sonata an improvisatory feel. But that’s what his art is all about – not imposing a view, but letting each piece grow at its own pace, and this movement was powered by a loose-jointed, singing tone.
The Scherzo was notably unhurried, and the funeral march seemed to short-change the drama until some angry drum-rolls kicked in. The concluding Allegro was soft, fleet, and sweet, until its last notes faded away in the distance.
And if that was revelatory, so was everything else in this recital. I have never known Schubert’s "6 Moments musicaux D 780" to acquire such amplitude and resonance as here, thanks to Zacharias’s deep empathy with this deceptively simple-seeming music.
The first piece became a series of calls and echoes in the woods, the second had a caressing inwardness, broken just momentarily by a burst of hard-toned fury; each was a world in itself, with its own particular touch on the keys.
Continuing with Schumann’s "Kreisleriana", Zacharias seemed to pass up on the initial invitation to virtuosity, but he more than made up for that later with a wonderfully exhilarating ride, then made a quirky exit in the comic finale. And to end with Beethoven’s unassuming "Sonata Op 14 No 2" was a quirky decision in itself: he turned its simple variations into a fascinating sequence of receding perspectives, before hurtling home in the off-the-wall Allegro assai (pointedly ignoring the assai); his Scarlatti encore was exquisite.
The next morning soprano Ruby Hughes and pianist Julius Drake gave a bright account of a programme by Haydn, Brahms, and Schumann. Hughes’s big, vibrato-free sound was ideally matched to some English canzonettas by Haydn to which Jane Austen herself had probably once listened, and in Schumann’s ‘Liederkreis’ Hughes and her excellent accompanist brought this composer’s doom-laden world to passionate life.
She had some problems projecting her words and keeping a sustained tone, but she caught the music’s spirit perfectly.
After giving gay film R-rating despite no sex or violencefilm
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Rice Bucket Challenge: India's take on the Ice Bucket Challenge 'for Indian needs'
- 2 Pamela Anderson rejects ice bucket challenge because of ALS experiments on animals: 'Mice had holes drilled into their skulls'
- 3 ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
- 4 Rubble Bucket Challenge: Ice Bucket Challenge adapted in solidarity with Gazans whose homes have been destroyed in conflict
- 5 Teenager dies after suspected ice bucket challenge goes horribly wrong
Led Zeppelin's Whole Lotta Love voted Greatest Guitar Riff of all time
Doctor Who lesbian kiss sparks Ofcom complaints over 'weird lesbian-lizard perv trip'
Emmys 2014: Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman and Steven Moffat win big awards for Sherlock
Nicki Minaj suffers wardrobe malfunction during MTV VMAs performance with Ariana Grande and Jessie J
Beyonce MTV VMAs feminist performance: Twitter reacts to singer's 'double standard'
Exclusive: We share blame for creating 'jihad generation', says Muslim strategist
Robin Williams Emmys tribute led by Billy Crystal criticised for including 'racist' joke about Muslim woman
The Rotherham child abuse scandal is a tale of apologists, misogyny and double standards
Scottish independence TV debate: Pumped-up Alex Salmond bounces back in bruising second round against Alistair Darling
Jeremy Clarkson is a cultural tumour and needs to be removed, says comedian Frankie Boyle
Air strikes? Talk of God? Barack Obama is following the jihadists’ script after James Foley beheading
- < Previous
- Next >