Leif Ove Andsnes, Queen Elizabeth Hall

3.00

 

As the leading pianist of his native Norway, Leif Ove Andsnes has traded very effectively on his easy manner and camera-friendly looks, and the Queen Elizabeth hall was predictably packed.

He’s dreamed up some eye-catching stunts, playing a Steinway on a snowy mountain-top to publicise his film about Edvard Grieg, and sending a Steinway to the bottom of the sea for the climax to a film accompanying his presentation of Mussorgsky’s ‘Pictures at an Exhibition’. His well-received Cds cover the waterfront of the Romantic repertoire, but somehow he’s not become identified with any particular composer. Might the unusual mix of this programme give a clue as to his natural musical habitat?

First up was Haydn’s Sonata in C major, a characteristically wayward piece by this (in pianistic terms) still underrated composer. The challenge with Haydn’s keyboard works lies in the fact that he left no indications as to phrasing or dynamics: all we have is the bare notes on the stave. But this also allows great freedom, as you can make of this music what you will. Andsnes put his cards firmly on the table at the start, with a resonantly noble sound: this work may count as ‘small’ in comparison with the sonatas of Beethoven and Schubert, but his conception was on the grandest scale.

Haydn’s structure is freewheeling and episodic, and Andsnes paced its declamatory shouts and sudden shifts into enchantment with persuasive force, while somehow preserving the intimacy of the fortepiano on which it would originally have been played. Next came Bartok’s rarely-performed Suite Opus 14, designed, in the composer’s words, to turn piano technique ‘into a more transparent style, a style of bone and muscle’ – a prescription which Andsnes’s muscularity fulfilled to perfection.

But then we left this exalted plane. Debussy’s Images Set 1 had no trace of the requisite mystery or suggestiveness, and there was nothing fanciful about the cantering perpetuum mobile of Mouvement. Devoting the rest of his recital to Chopin, Andsnes then systematically laid bare his own limitations. I have never heard the late Waltzes played with such a hard, metallic touch, and though the first and third Ballades were efficiently despatched, one had the feeling that he was coolly watching the music, rather than passionately inhabiting it.

Arts and Entertainment

game of thrones reviewWarning: spoilers

Arts and Entertainment
The original Star Wars trio of Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill

George Osborne confirms Star Wars 8 will film at Pinewood Studios in time for 4 May

film

Arts and Entertainment
Haunted looks: Matthew Macfadyen and Timothy Spall star in ‘The Enfield Haunting’

North London meets The Exorcist in eerie suburban drama

TV

Arts and Entertainment

Filming to begin on two new series due to be aired on Dave from next year

TV

Arts and Entertainment
Kit Harington plays MI5 agent Will Holloway in Spooks: The Greater Good

'You can't count on anyone making it out alive'film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before