Review, Pavel Kolesnikov, Wigmore Hall, London by James Ellis

 Photo credit: Da Ping Luo, via Park Avenue Armory

 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Wigmore Hall would be packed for the Russian pianist Pavel Kolesnikov, as the bitter chill of London winter called round. I recall his time doing a dance version if Bach’s Goldberg Variations at Sadler’s Wells. I’m intrigued with him.

He is complex to watch when playing. This programme is also hand picked by him and it can’t shake away an eccentric air. Starting with Górecki’s late work: For Anna, the deceptively simple tissue of the piece could omly ever be this stunning Polish composer. The right hands leads the end of the lines with a two-note pattern, swaying softly then a more harsh terrain raids. It’s a piece which demands more listens. More on that later.

Pavel played with grace and fortitude. The following Beethoven Sonataa No. 17, is dubbed ‘Tempest’ and its easy to see why. The control he has over these piece is highly compelling, his Beethoven seemed to whip up a great frenzy and also time for retrospection. His white shirt and jacked gave a light sight in the hall, the lights dimmed and a lot of dark colours abound. La colombe or The Dove from Messiaen led after this, a buttery little prelude mimicking the flutter of the birds wings as apposed to the later bird song the composer would faithfully notate. Performed with a loving sweet and impressionistic scope.

Mozart’s Piano Sonata in A fittingly followed (this was Messiaen favourite composer). The marvellous hopscotch nature of the cheeky piece, Pavel brought insight and charm. He can’t help himself. Often mouthing along with the music, more mime and not Glenn Gould. Naturally, the famous Turkish March ended the sonata in rousing form leading to a well needed break for him, after over an hour of playing.

The Górecki piece was an apparition that did not want to leave the space, Pavel making the choice to have it played twice is daring. It was even more dark and sombre second time round, I think the audience listend even more attentively. The wrap up was Schubert’s Piano Sonata in A minor. Moments of joy are messhed with terror in this off kilter composition. Pavel reaching even newer heights. His seroius style crossed with fun music making. Schubert’s often emotional weight was ever present, some rousing, searching psychology made Pavel perform beautfully.

This arrangement of a piano programme is odd. He might have just gotten away with it. 

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