This is a Danacord
series that seems set fair to continue
just as long as the Husum Festival does.
And that appears in a healthy state,
to judge by the proliferation of artists
booked yearly in August, from which
these recordings have been extracted.
There’s a brief preface explaining the
circumstances of recording, principally
in reply to criticisms made of the castle
acoustic, and a colour photograph on
the back of the booklet does show the
intimate room with low ceiling and small
audience. It’s true that there is a
certain acoustic constriction but given
the eclectic nature of the programming
– some of these pianists really do come
up with some welcomingly obscure things
– it’s less of a concern than it would
be in the canonical repertoire.
Man of the moment and
Hyperion star Jonathan Plowright kicks
off with Poulenc – and I wish the movements
of Les Soirées de Nazelles had
been separately banded but never mind.
This is cultured and imaginative playing,
not short on charm and power either
and he mines those moments of Chopinesque
delicacy, Schumannesque reverie, Stravinskian
tartness and music-hall drollery that
makes this so irresistible a score.
Maybe he’s not quite Pascal Rogé’s
equal in panache but at least he doesn’t
indulge the composer’s officially sanctioned
cut version as Eric Parkin did for Chandos.
Le Coeur sur la main is especially lyrical
and the ‘Handel in the Strand meets
Music Hall’ romp negotiated with real
verve. In the final stretch where Poulenc
asks for Follement vite Plowright
is certainly fast but also meticulously
precise over articulation. This is the
meatiest work on the disc.
wrote his homages to fellow French composers
– eleven or so minutes of amusing evocation
of the styles of Fauré, d’Indy
(especially fine at his rushing drama),
Chausson and the composer’s own teacher
Franck where Marie-Catherine Girod (Bax
star) plays out the left hand octaves
with verve – and a trivially dropped
note or two only attests to the spontaneity
of the playing. Schmitt’s Waltz is pert
and salonesque. Arturo Sudbrack Jamardo
gives us some Latin American colour
– big applause after his Villa-Lobos
– and Fredrik Ullén gives us
a Chopinesque Stenhammar, a good Scriabin
and a totally unnecessary Sorabji (a
futile trill and tremolo study – Ullén
is apparently embarking on a major Sorabji
recording project). Andrea Bacchetti
gives us more Scriabin but look at the
headnote carefully; it’s his son, Julian,
by his mistress Tatyana de Schloezer.
These amazing pieces, so redolent of
his father, were written when the boy
was barely eleven, the same year in
which he drowned in the River Dnieper
in what are called ‘still unexplained’
circumstances. Highly chromatic and
portentous they received their first
performances in 1969. Finally there
is Elena Kuschnerova in Glinka – powerfully
modulated as ever with this pianist
and illuminated by her characteristic
finesse and poetry.
As followers of this
series will have realised by now this
is another in the line of ‘Best Ofs’
from Husum. It’s a bit of a One-Off
as well and mainly for the omnivorous
pianophile. You know who you are.