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<<  -- 2 --  Malcolm Miller    BRILLIANT BEETHOVEN


The second half began with a work from the 'late' period, the Eleven Bagatelles Op 119, aphoristic miniatures, which (despite being played from music) showed Robert's profound imagination and insights. Their whimsical nature, abrupt discontinuities and formal 'shortcuts' came across vividly. The repetition and development of material, the unusual dissonances which begin No 8, the arresting textures (the trills of No 5), the short phrase lengths (No 9 in a minor), were conveyed tellingly. Throughout textures were light, the 'semplice' element never overplayed nor over-pedaled. Beethoven's unusual syntax seemed to make perfect, sometimes surreal, sense.

The climax of the programme was the Sonata in A Op 101 from Beethoven's experimental, romantic phase in 1816, given a masterly account. The tender first movement's rich flowing textures were beautifully coloured. In the invigorating, sturdy Vivace, rhythmic bite never flagged, the harmonies were given full intensity, while the caressing slow Trio was poetically charged. The Adagio was full of tension, the pianissimo stretches reaching outwards passionately, with highlighted contrasts of register and eloquent silences. After the poignant lyrical reminiscence of the opening, the Finale took off at a pace. Here was truly happy music, and happy pianism, bright and optimistic, sensitive (as throughout this concert) to the detail of Beethoven's markings. The controlled fingerwork was superb, the tone production, the diversity of colour, particularly in the high delicate filigree passages for two or more parts which look ahead to the 'late' works.

As a bonus, the enthusiastic audience was treated to the A major Bagatelle Op 33 as encore, an ideal complement to the sonata in a similarly uplifting mood. One could only concur with the majority of those present that this was Beethoven as Beethoven should be played, and that, when he is in such form, Bernard Roberts is unrivalled in his interpretation of this great master.

Copyright © 17 May 2002 Malcolm Miller, London, UK






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