This recital grew on me. In the beginning I was turned off by
some unusually slow tempi and the close sound of the piano,
which really growls in the lower register. But the more I listen,
the more I like these interpretations. I still think that some
places are too heavy but I do like Crossland’s sincere
lyrical approach, and would definitely love to hear this program
from her in the concert hall.
The opening movement of the Mozart rolls and bubbles. The sound
is grand, and you’ll feel that the music was not written
for the instrument it is played on. Still, the playing is expressive;
the left hand is well marked and has weight. Crossland finds
more drama here than you’ll hear in some lighter interpretations.
She also takes the second movement slower than the prescribed
Andante - more like an Adagietto. The pianist
demonstrates good Mozartean clarity: the performance is canorous,
transparent and beautiful. The light clouds come and pass, and
soft radiance remains. The ornamentation is delicate. In the
Rondo finale, the childish innocence of the refrain is set off
by the lyrical emotion of the inner episodes. Crossland’s
tempo is flexible, and she quickens or slows it to emphasize
and accentuate. I know that some of you prefer a strict beat
in your Mozart, so be warned.
The Tempest is one of Beethoven’s most spectacular
creations. Crossland manages to find something new about the
piece. First and foremost, it seems that she has decided to
ignore completely the “Tempest” association; it
is indeed posthumous and unreliable. Her first movement is slow
and viscous; it feels like trying to run through waist-deep
water. I waited in vain for the customary lightning bolts, and
at times wanted to shout “Please, please, roll, go for
it!” On the other hand, it’s hard to resist this
masterful suspense and the feeling of a great pregnant power,
like a tightly coiled spiral. The Adagio is static, but
with a sense of purpose. Its development is enthralling, though
at times the steps are too heavy. The finale is also slower
than usual, which gives it quite a different character. It is
now a light, melancholic waltz, feminine and inspired, with
occasional outbursts of thunder; a strange feeling. The music
is more tender and serene than usual, it feels almost like Brahms.
After a few listenings I came under the spell and, though I
don’t think this reflects the composer’s intentions,
I admit that this is a beautiful interpretation. All details
are very clear, and there is a “butterfly” feeling
of soaring on the wind.
After such tenderness in the finale of the Tempest, I
expected Crossland to excel in the Elysian heights of Op.110.
Indeed, the first movement is very good, with expressive accents
and sensitive rubato. Alas, the lower region of the piano
growls away. This spoils the picture and does not let the two
hands blend well. It is like eating steak with whipped cream!
I am pretty sure this is the fault of the instrument and the
recording choices. The bold and bright Scherzo is cheerfully
grotesque. Crossland’s performance has more hues than
the usual monochrome range, and her careful presentation brings
out many details. The spiritual heart of this work lies in its
last movement, a strange union of a lugubrious Adagio
and a passionately hopeful Fugue, which ends in a glory of bell-ringing.
Crossland gives a compelling reading. Her Arioso really
sings, and the Fugue is powerful yet humane. In the second instance
of the Arioso, the bass is heavy again. This lends the
music a different character, throwing a bridge to the Tempest
with its subterraneous thunder; at the same time compromising
its surreal glow. The ecstatic ending has excellent drive. The
entire complex structure is very cohesive.
On the whole, this is a consistent and well thought-out recital.
The order of the works is well planned, leading us from the
youthful clarity of Mozart, through the turbulent passions of
the Tempest, to the resignation and redemption of Op.110.
On the other hand, the sound and some interpretive decisions
made me frown rather too often. These interpretations represent
an interesting view but are not definitive. Some of Crossland’s
decisions are questionable but shouldn’t all good, searching
interpretations be open to question? In art, there is no single
golden truth, a single way of “doing it right”,
and that’s the beauty of it.