Bach • Liszt • Schubert
There is so much to like in this live recital that the downside is all the more exasperating. How is it that a pianist who consistently plays to such a remarkable standard either can’t or won’t conjure an agreeable sound from the instrument? A fair perspective is called for: Simon TrpΩeski’s idea of keyboard tone is by no means as mallet-like as that of some other pianists with worldwide reputations. But above mezzo-forte, it’s consistently hard-edged (while likeable enough in the quieter passages to indicate that the recorded sound itself is not the culprit).
There’s clarity, certainly, allowing a display of right-hand dexterity in Liszt’s Second Hungarian Rhapsody that’s imaginative, beguiling and in no way flashy. But too much elsewhere – for instance TrpΩeski’s way with Schubert’s German Dances – comes close to charmlessness. Presented with the Wanderer Fantasy’s formidable musical and technical requirements, TrpΩeski offers superb command, accuracy and response to every mercurial shift of mood, so that the four linked movements assemble in a single magnificent sweep. Meanwhile, the range of keyboard colour is monochrome and unappealing. The first of two encores, Liszt’s arrangement of Schubert’s Ständchen, offers a telling glimpse of something much more attractive in TrpΩeski’s playing – perhaps a consequence of feeling able, by then, to let his gifted artistry unbend a little more? But that’s leaving it late.