MUSIC / Merry dance: Meredith Oakes on a recital by Piotr Anderszewski at the QEH

Click to follow
The Independent Culture
It was almost the traditional pick-and-mix of familiar greats. But Webern's name was there among the standard ones, and the pieces in Piotr Anderszewski's International Piano Series recital at the Queen Elizabeth Hall on Sunday had a unifying dance element reflecting one of the strongest aspects of this remarkable artist's character.

Bach first: not a mere nod in that direction, but the substantial suite of keyboard dances, Overture in the French Style. Informal, almost folk- French, they are embellished with fresh little runs and graces which in Anderszewski's hands fell into place with the satisfying inevitability of snooker balls going into the pocket. The last piece, Echo, a sly Bach joke, was consummately, funnily played.

Anderszewski was into the first movement almost before you knew it. His style is unassuming. It can afford to be. The innocently springing andante phrase-making melted to ghostly softness with a drop in dynamics whose chill could be physically felt. We found ourselves engaged in a passionate, imaginative deconstruction reminiscent of Landowska.

The playing was not mannered at all. There was no lingering on the decorative curlicues; there was not even very much rubato, though where Anderszewski did employ it, it was characteristically bold. Strategic landscaping of the dynamics was important: terrace dynamics but with a new sense of fantasy. Ultra-sophisticated pedalling alternated with unpedalled tracts. Perhaps the memory of Landowska surfaced because, like her, Anderszewski has an earthy rhythmic grasp that makes each piece unstoppable. This was true even of Webern's etiolated Variations, Opus 27: the fleeting gestures and glances behind the notes were wonderfully clear, and because the curious pitches were so much part of a rhythmic entity one understood exactly how well chosen they were.

Chopin, was represented by just the Three Mazurkas, Opus 59: unpretentious pieces that sneaked up on you to bloom into trill-chains or stomping, whirling bursts of colour. Not only was the playing strongly danceable: there was a tender simplicity that made you see a whole countryside.

Anderszewski took the tempo instructions in Schumann's Faschingsschwank aus Wien at their word. 'Very lively' for the first movement, which despite its big, solid chords was as exuberant as the young Viennese street-life which inspired it. 'Extremely lively' for the massively chorded finale, which almost ran away: but how exciting to hear this recital-elephant light on its feet. 'With the greatest energy' for the deceptively rippling intermezzo, here powering along on a knotty, idiosyncratic course at once boldly personal and brilliantly apt. The romanze and the scherzino were rich in muted, smoky, soft-pedal colourings: an Anderszewski fingerprint.

Comments