Tuesday 29 June 2010

Aldeburgh 2010 - Zehetmair and Aimard

Zehetmair and his quartet had already played a concert, but such is the nature of festivals that he returned for a recital with festival director Pierre-Laurent Aimard and a mix of old and modern music.  But before that came a piece by Pierre Boulez for solo piano, providing a nice link to the performance that was to follow later in the day.

I don't think I'd ever heard anything by Boulez in concert before and was pleasantly surprised by his Douze Notations pour piano.  They were a wonderful mix, varyingly playful, intellectual and angry.  Flavours of Messiaen could be detected here and there too.  Aimard played superbly and the piece culminated in a wonderful chord, held for almost an eternity on the sustain peddle.

Boulez was followed by Schoenberg and his Phantasy for violin and piano, op.47.  This proved a much more introvert piece and the piano part significantly blander, save for a rather nice section at the top end of the keyboard.  Zehetmair displayed all the technical skill that he had shown on Wednesday yet proved a little clinical.

The Schumann that followed, Sonata no.1 in A minor, was rather more successful.  I'm often not bowled over by Schumann, but when played with plenty of oomph, as Aimard and Zehetmair did, it can be most exhilarating.

After the interval came Mozart's Violin Sonata in C major, K303.  Here Zehetmair's rather clinical style, that works fine in works such as Wednesday's Shostakovich (indeed, is positively an advantage) didn't quite fit.  Aimard provided sublime accompaniment but above him the violin part was a little screechy and cold.  It lacked both the beauty and the characterisation that this sort of piece really wants.

Then it was back to Boulez, and Zehetmair on his own was more at home.  Unfortunately, Anthemes I for solo violin, though providing a technical tour de force for him, was much less satisfying than the Douze Notations had been.

They finished up with Schubert's Fantasy in C major, D934.  Regrettably, this suffered the same problem as the Mozart, if anything more so.  On the plus side, it did leave me quite keen to hear Aimard in some Schubert and, indeed, long to hear the D960 again.

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