Music: A Polonaise without Fantasie/Bernard d'Ascoli/Wigmore Hall
Thursday 05 January 1995
The introduction was fairly commanding, but the Polonaise proper, although warmly articulated, lacked colour and panache: it was too strait-laced, more a formal statement than the swaggering, heroic dance-form we know from other interpreters. The middle
section, though, was thoughtfully surveyed, the ensuing storm of trills well handled, and when the crowning peroration finally arrived, the structural logic of D'Ascoli's vision hit home with the appropriate weight, warmth and feeling of exultation.
Next came a quartet of Mazurkas, all composed during the same period (1845-6): the three pieces Op 59 and the celebrated A minor, Op 67 No4. Here D'Ascoli's cosseting touch and artful rubato paid high dividends: he had the measure of the music's eleganc e , sophistication and shifting perspectives; and he could be strongly assertive, too - as in the A flat major. And when it came to the majestic Barcarolle, D'Ascoli refused to rock the boat with excessive rubato; rather, he would modulate his tone accordi ng to the changing complexion of Chopin's harmonies, while the music's crucial bass-line was kept securely within earshot.
Then came two of the greatest Nocturnes, the B major and E major that share Opus 62, the former so full of fantastical pianistic incident, the latter, broad, ballade-like, and warmly played. D'Ascoli seemed more in his element here than anywhere else in the programme, certainly than in the Waltzes (Op 64, Nos 1-3) which, although admirably fluid and unfussy, seemed to me rather unmemorable.
lt was a long but rewarding first half, and the audience loved it. After the interval, D'Ascoli returned with another five Mazurkas, the three Op 63s and one each from Op 68 and Op 67. Once again, the requisite lilt was there, and the tone was nicely graded.
The real test, though, was still in store: Chopin's magnum opus, his Third Sonata. The first movement went reasonably well, with some felicitous phrasing and rather more in the way of dynamic inflexion than we heard in the Polonaise-Fantasie. But althou g h there were many fine moments to savour, I would have welcomed a stronger line and a tighter grip between individual episodes. The Scherzo's trio was very well focused, the Largo had an almost Brahmsian glow and the Finale was both thrilling and unmista kably conclusive. The audience was delighted and D'Ascoli responded with three encores, including the famous E flat Nocturne and the stormy Etude, Op 10 No 4, reminders both of Chopin's brilliant youth and of his own.
Review: A panoramic account of the hacking scandalbooks
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Russell Brand accuses FOX News anchor Sean Hannity of terrorism after aggressive Israel-Gaza debate
- 2 Pope Francis issues top 10 tips for happiness – including don’t try to convert other people
- 3 Disney heiress Abigail disowns her share of family profits in West Bank company
- 4 The secret report that helps Israel hide facts
- 5 Israel's propaganda machine is finally starting to misfire
Game of Thrones actress begs for 'other princess work' after Myrcella Baratheon part is recast
New Netflix releases: Films and TV shows coming August 2014
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy
Star Wars Episode 7: Simon Pegg hints at role
Palestinian artists transform smoke-filled Gaza into symbol of resistance
The secret report that helps Israel hide facts
Land for gas: Merkel and Putin discussed secret deal could end Ukraine crisis
Woman and two children killed by mob in riots over 'blasphemous' Facebook post in Pakistan
A day in the life of Vladimir Putin: The dictator in his labyrinth
Putin is 'thuggish, dishonest and reckless', says British ambassador to US
Richard Dawkins tweets: 'Date rape is bad, stranger rape is worse'
- < Previous
- Next >