Piotr Anderszewski at Carnegie Hall

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COMPOSERS: Bartok,Beethoven,Janacek,JS Bach,Schumann
LABELS: Virgin
WORKS: Beethoven: Piano Sonata No. 31; Schumann: Faschingsschawnk aus Wien; plus piano works by JS Bach, Janácek & Bartók
PERFORMER: Piotr Anderszewski
CATALOGUE NO: 267 2912

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A live recording is risky for a pianist who opts to re-play a long work in recital because his first shot wasn’t in his view good enough, but this atmospheric event follows its arc with absolute assurance.

Piotr Anderszewski employs a small but incisive tone in the Bach Sinfonia, as though he is taking us into his confidence; the Allemande is sweet and unassuming, the Courante has warmth, the Sarabande has rapt expressiveness.

As the Partita progresses, the playing becomes more exuberant: the Caprice is pure tumbling energy. This Bach is characterised above all by Anderszewski’s wonderful touch – light, precise, and muscular.

He brings this same touch to Beethoven, though it’s by no means all that’s required, and what we miss in this rendering of the majestic penultimate sonata is the sense of it being forged into a free-standing structure with massive tensile strength.

One should never feel drift as one does here at moments in the arioso-fugal alternation, but Anderszewski brings out the feminine aspects of the first movement interestingly, and he ends on a thrilling climax.

The four pieces comprising Janácek’s In the Mists represent a different challenge, and I mean no disrespect to Anderszewski by saying I prefer András Schiff’s more dramatic interpretation (on ECM): what we get here has an exquisite delicacy, which Anderszewski brings out again with his lovely Bartók encore.

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But Schumann’s fanciful Faschingsschwank sees him in coruscating form: the word means ‘carnival farce’, and that is what we get, with sly comedy, wistfulness, and megawatt dazzle following each other in quick succession across the stage. Michael Church