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Royal Festival Hall, London - The Guardian
Thursday 11 June 2009

Gesänge der Frühe was Schumann's last major work, composed in 1853 just before his final mental breakdown. Generally dismissed as inferior to the earlier, better-known piano cycles, it is hardly ever heard, but characteristically Piotr Anderszewski chose to begin his Festival Hall recital with it. Though even his mercurial way with Schumann could do little with the doggedly insistent central movement, his rapt unfolding of the chorale-like opening and closing numbers, and gossamer touch with the swirling textures of the fourth showed that, beneath all the muddiness, Schumann's very personal vein of musical poetry still survives.

Anderszewski linked the pieces without a break to Bach's E minor Partita, whose buoyancy and rhythmic vigour provided the perfect antidote to such dark-hued introspection. The clarity, litheness and unforced spontaneity of his Bach was a constant joy, tracing a seamless arc from the elaborate figuration of the opening Toccata to the leaping muscularity of the final, fugal Gigue, and making unexpected contrapuntal connections across the interval to Janácek's In the Mists, in which the episodes of each movement were fiercely contrasted and the musing, wistful melodies between them hauntingly voiced.

Beethoven's A flat Sonata Op110 was the last work, presented, like the rest of the recital, without a trace of unnecessary flamboyance, yet conceived as a single musical organism, with every chord perfectly weighted, every phrase exactly balanced. Throughout the recital, the delicacy and control of Anderszewski's pianissimo playing were sources of wonder, and the return of the fugue in the finale of the Beethoven was a breathtaking moment, fragile and intense at the same time. The encores - Bartók folksongs, then more Bach - were perfectly judged, too.
Source: The Guardian

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