Thrilling giddiness and rare devilry

Andreas Boyde | Wigmore Hall, London

Andreas Boyde studied in Dresden, then at the Guildhall School in London, and he's known to some extent in this country through his recordings, including a very good Carnaval. He's something of a Schumann specialist, and bravely chose an all-Schumann programme for his Wigmore recital on Sunday.

The sound Boyde makes is soft-grained and warm, and his account of the fiery Toccata was, arguably, a bit mild, though crisp and disciplined. Before it, he played an early rarity, a short set of variations on a waltz of Schubert that Schumann never finished, though he used the opening again in Carnaval. Oddly enough, although he aspired to brilliance at the time, they remain gently lyrical, and apparently, he disapproved of Schunke's variations on the same theme because they seemed inappropriately heroic.

Slightly later, in his Studies in the form of free variations on the Allegretto from Beethoven's Seventh Symphony, Schumann pushed the boat out, with some coruscating forays into the upper register, though later variations calm down and end reflectively. Already he was making a stand against the superficial bravura of his contemporaries.

Written almost 20 years later, the first of the three "Fantasy Pieces", Op. 111, is a romantically turbulent work, whose passionate accents Boyde underplayed, though he captured the modest tenderness of the second piece beautifully, and if the last was less emphatic than it might have been, it was also effective on Boyde's terms of relaxed intimacy.

Boyde positively whirled through the Préambule, and was justified in cutting some of repeats in several of the following numbers - it made for even faster thinking than Schumann dared. In Florestan, Boyde's bounce and rhythmic give-and-take were utterly infectious, and for once, Coquette followed without hesitation, provoking a delighted chuckle from the stalls. Lettres dansantes was not really light enough, and it was a pity that Chopin was not more impulsive - though still more ardent than most pianists make it. Papillons and Pantalon et Colombine were thrillingly giddy and the final March launched with rare devilry.

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