Karl Lutchmayer is a young London-based pianist with arresting ideas about prog-ramme-planning. On Friday he gave the first of three recitals at The Warehouse, tucked away off Waterloo Road, in which he is combining new British music with connoisseur's items from the past as well as some standard warhorses. Friday's programme was particularly int- riguing, with Bartok and Liszt framing a new set of pieces by 30-year-old Richard Causton, then major works by two shadowy figures from the early 20th century, Busoni and Enescu.
The Warehouse is a barn-like studio with a high ceiling and wooden floors which make the piano sound a little bit boomy, but it is pleasantly airy while intimate enough to make an audience of 30-odd people seem like a decent crowd. The acoustic doesn't allow for ideal clarity, and Lutchmayer sometimes seemed to be holding back to compensate, so that the outer movements of Bartok's Out of Doors suite came across as well controlled rather than exciting. There was no doubt, though, about his sensitive colouring of the exquisite nocturnal evocation in the fourth movement, with its eerie sounds of natural life and oriental arabesques.
The first two and fourth of Causton's five Inventions in One Part were particularly striking studies in recon- ciling two contrasted ideas undergoing continuous change. The first, for instance, was a dialogue in which lively angular shapes alternated with single notes allowed to blur into each other gently. Loud contrasted with soft, tight rhythms with looser durations. After which Lutchmayer showed he had the chops for Liszt's murderous Tarantella, as well as the gracefulness and velvety touch for its relaxed middle section.
Busoni's Indianisches Tage-buch is rather improbably based on Red Indian themes given him by an American student, though they are absorbed into Busoni's charact-eristically muted, crepuscular style. His recently discovered Indianisches Erntelied was his first setting of one of these melodies, quiet and magical, with ghostly rippling scales and little weeping motifs.
It was impressive that Lutchmayer played everything except the Causton pieces from memory, and when a digital alarm (if that's what it was) interrupted the last piece in the Tagebuch, he simply stopped and went back a couple of bars or so, as if to say "Now let's hear that again".
There were certainly lots of notes to remember in Enescu's Sonata in D, written in the 1930s a mostly happy piece with an ear-tickling first movement bubbling along in not-quite-regular rhythms, though it would have been interesting to see the score to discover how the teasing rhythms in this rarity were actually notated.
Karl Lutchmayer's plays again at The Warehouse, Theed Street, London (020-7228 8854) on 28 June and 12 JulyReuse content