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Carnegie Hall - New York Times
Friday 5 December 2008

It can be hard not to wax hyperbolic when confronted with the pianist Piotr Anderszewski's sensitive touch and potent imagination. From the initial Sinfonia of Bach's Partita No. 2 in C minor (BWV 826), which opened Mr. Anderszewski's recital at Carnegie Hall on Wednesday night, a frisson of drama ran through his delicate balance of sound and space. Every contrapuntal strand was clearly discernible in his lucid, articulate account. The Sarabande was stately and absorbing, and the closing Capriccio had a jaunty bounce.

Similar qualities defined an engaging performance of Schumann's 'Faschingsschwank aus Wien.' Mr. Anderszewski lingered over tender phrases in the Romanze, brought a tidal surge to the Intermezzo and maintained clarity at a blinding clip in the Finale.

But with Janacek's 'In the Mists,' which opened the second half of the program, Mr. Anderszewski dipped into deeper reserves of expressiveness. In each of the four movements, a wistful melody curls through an opalescent harmonic haze reminiscent of Debussy's music, then breaks through like a memory growing more acute and detailed. In Mr. Anderszewski's hands, the second movement in particular seemed to evoke a bit of nostalgic romance heard first with a distanced reserve, and again with a vivid passion.

The evening's most overpowering performance came in Beethoven's Sonata No. 31 in A flat (Op. 110). Mr. Anderszewski's attention to dynamic markings, mostly of the soft and softer variety, was fastidious, with exquisite results.

If he took any liberties, it was in magnifying Beethoven's expressive indications. The opening bars of the first movement, for example, are marked 'con amabilità,' understood to mean genial or good-natured. But Mr. Anderszewski's improbably light playing had an air of confessional intimacy; listening felt like eavesdropping. A brittle second movement was peppered with sudden jolts.

Most of the drama in this sonata resides in its lengthy finale, an alternation of arioso and fugal sections clearly meant to evoke a painful struggle. Mr. Anderszewski offered a daringly spacious account in which sensations of isolation and longing were almost too acute to bear. The fugues, however transcendent, never quite dispelled the lingering ache.

After a performance so intense and draining, the notion of encores almost seemed superfluous. But Bartok's 'Three Hungarian Folksongs from the Csík District' had a welcome earthiness; the Prelude from Bach's English Suite No. 6 (BWV 811) provided further solace, and the Adagio from Mozart's Sonata in C minor (K. 457) was mesmerizing.

Photo:: © Robert Workman/Virgin Classics 2007

Source: New York Times
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