Richard Goode, classical review: Exuberantly full-blooded

Wigmore Hall, London

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The Independent Culture

Great pianistic minds think alike: last week Maurizio Pollini gave us his magisterial take on Debussy’s Preludes Book I and this week it was Richard Goode’s turn, though Goode kicked off with Schubert and Chopin.

His Schubert was unusual, both in its grouping – Impromptus interspersed with two rarely-performed late Klavierstucke – and in its tone of voice. The great C minor Impromptu came in heroic and declamatory guise with none of the conventional wistfulness, while the G flat Impromptu – in which most pianists aim for a melting sweetness – was bracingly austere.

The muscular rawness of the Klavierstucke had less to do with the fact that Schubert had died before he could polish them than with Goode’s determination to eschew pathos.

Four Chopin Mazurkas bucked a different trend: in Goode’s hands each emerged as a tightly-wrought entity, heel-clicking, gliding and swooping, and exuberantly full-blooded.

But when he launched into Chopin’s Polonaise-fantaisie one remembered with a jolt that this man is pre-eminently a Beethovenist: seductive textures and technical flamboyance – qualities demanded with that piece – were never what he was about.

So it was no surprise that the refined suggestiveness required for Debussy’s tone-poems didn’t materialise. The Schumann encore, however, was brightly characterised.