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S&H Recital review


Ravel, Hindemith, Mussorgsky: Andreas Boyde (piano), Wigmore Hall, Saturday November 17th, 2001 (CC)

Andreas Boyde’s discography (he is an exclusive Athene artist) has in the past left me untouched. It was, therefore, a pleasing surprise that Boyde’s Wigmore recital revealed a more communicative musician with much to say in his chosen repertoire.

The programme worked well: perhaps the most interesting aspect was the inclusion of Hindemith’s Suite 1922, Op. 26. Boyde presented the five sections with great character, taking evident delight in emphasising the slightly manic and obsessive side of Hindemith’s personality. The first movement is a recognisably Germanic evocation of a March distorted through a Commedia dell’arte prism. Boyde was especially touching in the nocturne-like fourth movement (‘Boston’). In a curious self-inflicted paradox, Boyde’s own programme notes refer to the final movement’s Ragtime as ‘distorted beyond recognition’, but curiously his performance made the evocation of honky-tonk all the more obvious.

The Hindemith contrasted well with the performance of Ravel’s Miroirs, which opened proceedings. Boyde is an accomplished colourist, but to his credit refused to over-luxuriate in Ravel’s Impressionist world. If his Oiseaux tristes precariously trod the line of musical disjunction and disintegration, his Une barque sur l’océan was an exciting maritime evocation. The triumph here was Alborada del gracioso, where he kept the virtuoso element solidly within the remit of the piece.

Boyde’s Pictures is evidently a reading borne of much thought. The opening ‘Promenade’ was distinctly lyrical. No bold Russian proclamation of intent in bold strides here, rather the beginning of a long journey through various emotional states (responses to Hartmann’s pictures) which formed a logical progression to ‘The Great Gate of Kiev’. By saving his power until later in the piece, it was left to Boyde’s powers of characterisation to maintain interest. The ’Market Square (The Big News)’ chattered with women whose penchant for gossip would put Hilda Ogden in the shade; ‘Catacombs’ was laid bare in a completely unapologetic fashion which emphasised the modernity of Mussorgsky’s writing.

Boyde’s myriad touches projected well, all the way to the critics’ seats tucked away right at the back of the hall.

Boyde’s representation on disc possibly does not express the breadth and variety of his touch, nor his evident musical presence. This was a very worthwhile recital and I look forward to hearing more live performances from this pianist.

Colin Clarke

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