CLASSICAL Martin Roscoe / Igor Zhukov Wigmore Hall, London

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The Independent Online
Martin Roscoe called his three recitals featuring the music of Szymanowski "Szymanowski, the Polish Impressionist". That was convenient, because he put Szymanowski with Debussy. But then he also played Chopin, whom nobody has yet called a proto-Impressionist. None of the Szymanowski works that Roscoe played in his final recital on Friday 13th suggested the Impressionist label. The two-movement Second Sonata of 1911 exemplifies a post-Romantic crisis of overblown gestures in decadent harmonies approaching atonality. Szymanowski survived the crisis, constructing a personal style without any loss of richness but a tremendous gain in clarity and subtlety, as shown by the Mazurkas, Op 50, written in the mid-1920s, which began Roscoe's programme. Not only did he play these as to the manner born, he also gave a forthright account of Chopin's Barcarolle, sensitive performances of Chopin's Op 59 Mazurkas and a well-shaped one of the epic fourth Ballade. The series has been a noble undertaking and Roscoe is not only an exceedingly reliable and consistent pianist, he is also irrepressible. But some of his most enjoyable playing has been of Debussy and, on this final night, he evoked all the sensuousness and orchestral depth you could expect in four from the second book of Preludes.

Igor Zhukov has waited a long time to give his first recital in London, which he did at the Wigmore Hall on Wednesday. Now in his early sixties, Zhukov spent several years conducting and running the New Moscow Chamber Orchestra, which he has now disbanded. He seemed extremely relaxed, aiming at breadth and smoothness, with an almost languid approach to rhythm in energetic movements. At times, he tended to over-pedal, and ran movements together without breaks.

The most rewarding performances were of Scriabin's Second and Third Sonatas, in which Zhukov's penchant for floating sounds in a sonorous haze seemed more idiomatic. In the Third Sonata, the way he made the middle of the second movement into an intangible, luminous vision was extraordinarily imaginative, altogether transcending Scriabin's notation.

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