Although not reviewed by MusicWeb International when it was first issued
in 2009, I was so impressed by this recording when I first heard it recently
that I was anxious to spread the news.
Born 1976 in Lausanne, Cédric Pescia studied piano with Christian Favre,
Dominique Merlet and Klaus Hellwig in Lausanne, Geneva and Berlin
respectively. In 2002 he took first prize at the Gina Bachauer International
Artists Piano Competition in Salt Lake City, USA. As well as fulfilling
concert engagements in Europe, China, South America, North Africa and the
USA, he is a founding member and artistic director of the Lausanne chamber
music series "Ensemble en Scène". His love of chamber music has
lead to collaborations with the violinist Nurit Stark. In 2012 he was
appointed professor for piano at the Haute École de Musique de Genève.
I first heard a concert performance of these last three sonatas in London
about twenty years ago, in magisterial accounts played by Maurizio Pollini.
They left a powerful and overwhelming impression. This final trilogy boasts
many sublime realizations on CD, among my favourites are those by Igor
Levit, Alfred Brendel and Pollini. I have no hesitation in adding Cédric
Pescia’s offering to this august list. He has a lofty vision, applying his
formidable intellect and musicianship to the service of these works. He
allows the music to flow naturally and speak for itself, not imposing his
personality on it. He has obviously lived with these scores for a while,
allowing them to mature, as his grasp of their structure and architecture is
remarkable. This is playing which certainly commands attention.
The Sonata No.30 in E major Op.109 is agreeably paced. The opening
movement has an improvisatory feel, and an underlying sense of logical. The
Prestissimo, which follows, is rhythmically tight. Pescia handles the
variation movement persuasively. The theme has an inward, luminous quality
and simplicity, with the variations well-characterized. There is a
of a full performance of Sonata 30 by Pescia.
Pescia’s opening of the A flat major Sonata is poised, with impeccable
pointing of chords. There’s overall immaculate technical control, especially
in the beautifully articulated and evenly distributed arpeggios, which form
an integral part of the structure of the opening movement. The dark, sombre
and brooding mood of the Adagio is full of doubt and despair, and the fugal
section is expertly voiced.
In Op. 111, Pescia makes an effective contrast between the struggle and
conflict of the opening movement and the serenity and transcendental
qualities of the Arietta. In the first movement the contrapuntal lines are
delineated with precision and power. The final movement is sublime in its
realization, with the cumulative effects of each subsequent variation, each
becoming more rhythmically complex, providing tension and drama as the
movement progresses. The dotted ‘jazzy’ third variation is seductively
brought off. At the end Pescia transports us to another world of peace,
tranquillity and resignation.
The sound is immediate, and the piano is ideally positioned in the aural
perspective, the Siemens-Villa acoustic conferring warmth and intimacy. The
well-written booklet notes deserve more than a cursory mention. An added
bonus is the presence of photos of the pianist, interspersed throughout. The
recording is still available as a CD or can be obtained as a download.
I can think of no better advocate for these last three sonatas than Cédric