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Similar sweetness of timbre coloured Schubert's Twelve Ländler D790, an effective, yet also neglected set which attests to Schubert's remarkably progressive idiom. The simple dance forms are infused with Schumannesque longing, some starting as if in mid-air, and with Chopinesque touches such as the unexpected chromaticisms, and the cadenza flourish towards the end of the cycle. Here each dance was sensitively characterised, in turn with melancholy poetry and ebullience, again highlighting inner voices. If there was occasionally a somewhat faux-naïve folkish four square emphasis, in general the firm tempo and powerful left hand served to purposefully project the tone and the large scale architecture leading to the final, quasi-orchestral climax.

In the second half, familiar works by Chopin sounded unfamiliar, given new twists, and emphases. Pensive and introspective, the Prelude in C sharp minor sounded like quite a different piece, the left hand rising motifs brought out, yet eschewing the extrovert passion of many interpretations. There was a similar classicising tendency in the first movement of Chopin's Sonata No 3 in B minor, but already in the central interlude of the Scherzo one sensed a more idiomatic intensity and expressive tension that finally surfaced in the affecting and entirely absorbing Largo. The finale too swept by with an iridescent clarity and sonorous depth seldom encountered in this work. The warm reception accorded was rewarded by a generous selection of encores as if of a past era, waltzes and studies by Chopin, Schubert and Moszkowksi, capped by a charming waltz by Robilette's wife, Erica, a pianist and composer. It encapsulated an individual outlook also seen in John Robilette's recordings on the Musicians Showcase label: Saint-Saëns Piano Concerto No 2 and Beethoven's Fourth Concerto with a choice of cadenzas (!), and a Live Recording from the Wigmore Hall (Musicians Showcase), with seldom played works by Deodat de Severac and transcriptions by Wilhelm Kempff. With such unusual programming and readings, yet projected with a strikingly attractive piano tone, John Robilette is a musician to watch, and listen out for.

Copyright © 12 June 2001 Malcolm Miller, London, UK




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