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MALCOLM MILLER attends the
Beethoven Piano Society of Europe Celebrity Concert,
given by Bernard Roberts


The celebrity recital given by Bernard Roberts was an inspiring and uplifting event; presented at a well filled Wigmore Hall in London on 15 April 2002 by the Beethoven Piano Society of Europe, of whom he is, deservedly, President (UK). Bernard Roberts has a powerful affinity with Beethoven and this recital had a pianistic and interpretative authority and authenticity that brought fresh vitality to works which ranged from the early 'Classical' to the 'late' romantic Beethoven.

To begin was the youthfully exuberant Op 10/3, in a superb interpretation that intensified in beauty of tone, finesse, and character. In the Largo e mesto one could sense the full, anguished tension in the many emphatic, dissonant, chords and a wonderfully evocative tonal colour in the slowly unfolding melody, impregnated with dramatic silences. All seemed subdued after the bristling first movement, and in turn, the switch back in to the brighter poise of the Menuetto was also masterly. The elegant gestures of this Minuet eschewed any of the oft found awkwardness, and in the buoyant Trio, every note achieving its full due. The final rondo was breathtaking in its quickfire imagination, wit and colour. Roberts freshly conveyed the narrative as in a film, the characters dancing, full of vitality, each terse motif alive with verve and humour.

The Sonata was followed with a middle period work, the formidable Eroica Variations Op 35. Here again humour is paramount, as if Beethoven were delving into different kinds of musical wit, yet alongside profound philosophy. Here the early variations are demanding with lots of high speed chordal textures, and Bernard Roberts' agility, (as earlier) lightness of touch, mercurial contrasts of dynamics, especially at phrase-ends and in the bass textures, were riveting. The emphatic opening three-chord motif found itself in myriad guises, always pointed up with vigour, notably in the variation where the pitch remains constant throughout, as an inverted pedal. The Minore variation was infused with deep expression, and the Fugue's momentum impelled the triumphant final variation with electricity. It was a tour de force that concluded the first half on a high note.

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Copyright © 17 May 2002 Malcolm Miller, London, UK






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