The annual summer piano festival in Schloss vor
Husum explores a wide-ranging repertoire, but specialises in more
out of the way fare and makes a point of encouraging transcriptions.
The festivals are now well documented on disc and the latest is
no exception in its exploration of intriguing corners of the repertoire
and an admixture of established twentieth century literature.
The virtues of such concert programming can be, on disc, somewhat
less attractive if only for the abrupt and contrasting juxtapositions
that invariably follow. Such a limitation exists here I think
for all the otherwise fine playing.
For those who fancy such a programme however
there are a number of things to catch the ear. Steven Osborne’s
Medtner is very attractive though significantly less tonally combustible
than was the composer himself in his traversals of these pieces
for HMV. Where Medtner opened Op. 20/1 with such noble etching
and explored sometimes dramatic elasticity of line and depth of
sonority Osborne is very much more equable, his dynamics flatter
and are less pronounced. His passagework is clean and clear, his
projection less emotionally vital, with very much less sense of
collapse at the end. Similarly whilst Medtner mines a grotesque
malignity in No.2 of the set, with massive etching and wide tonal
extremes, Osborne prefers a more breezy linearity, though he lacks
nothing in the powerful climaxes. Konstantin Lifschitz takes on
the heroic Sonata-Ballade in a recording that seems a mite more
recessed and less immediate than that accorded Osborne. This still
doesn’t damage one’s appreciation of his passionate unfolding
of Medtner’s soundscape or the intense and singular introspection
that lies at its blazing heart.
Jean Dubé’s Ciurlionis is affectionate
and he captures the wandering patina of the second of the Op.
20 set with acumen whilst Nicholas Walker essays Baines, not inappropriately
in this Slavic company since Baines’ aesthetic was not one confined
to native soil. In The Lone Wreck Walker rolls those ominous arpeggios
over the pedal bass with understanding, even if in comparison
with, say, Eric Parkin he lacks a certain brooding insistence.
Goodnight to Flamboro’ is fine; softer, slower, more nostalgic
and reflective than Parkin – and less glinting and visceral. Kolja
Lessing gives us three composers – maybe the Szymanowski, whilst
sinuously played, is also a little heavy – and Enrico Pace appears
with Prokofiev (excellent rolled chords in the Gavotte of the
Op. 12). Elsewhere we have the expected heroics from Marc-André
Hamelin – wonderfully clear and driving Villa-Lobos (he must have
driven the audience to a pitch of excitement and indeed Danacord
preserves the whooping applause) and grave Scriabin. Frédéric
Meinders certainly has programming ideas of his own (look at the
head note) and is a transcriber of enthusiasm. He transports us
to the salon with his Samson et Dalila – even if I detected some
over-emphatic left hand and a bit of unease generally. I can’t
say his Fats Waller tribute is subtle exactly – there’s some splintering
left hand along the way – but it’s diverting. The highlight of
Yaara Tal and Andreas Groethuysen’s Friedman Waltzes is their
beautiful reading of the second.
see also The
Festival of Rare Piano Music at Schloss vor Husum by John
OF PIANO MUSIC AT "SCHLOSS VOR HUSUM" From the
2001 Festival Chris Howell
of Piano Music at the Husum Festival - 1993 -2000 by John