A SINGULAR EVENT
Sergei Podobedov plays
Bach/Busoni, Liadov, Boris Goltz and Chopin,
reviewed by DAVID BRAID
Like many fields, the world of classical virtuosi, particularly that of the piano, suffers from over-production. The glut of apparently 'gifted', 'brilliant', 'breathtaking' but ultimately uninteresting, performers (if one is honest) serves only to dull the senses of the genuine music enthusiast. What, one may ask, can one hope to gain from attending the Wigmore Hall to hear 'yet another Russian' play Chopin and Scriabin? Well, in this case, rather more than one could have possibly expected.
Starting with the Bach/Busoni Chaconne is a statement in itself, so that even before hearing a single phrase, one has some idea of the sheer guts of this player. With a programme being a type of musical form on a macro scale, the two 'pillars' at either end of this recital (Chopin's 3rd Sonata was the last piece of the concert) gave a clear and defined overall sense of shape. This acute sense of form was echoed in the performer's clear-headed interpretations that took good account of long-term ramifications both within and across the movements.
The two (apparently) opposing dynamics, that of instinct and intellect are usually given equal attention in a favourable review in order to give some idea of the balanced, yet passionate, quality of the performer. This is ultimately pointless as nothing in words can give any real idea of the experience of actually being at a concert. So what can one say about Sergei's playing? Well, I for one certainly left the concert with a new understanding of the pieces played and a sense that one had just witnessed a singular event.
The usual descriptions: extremely powerful technique, clear phrasing, balanced voicing within the chords, infectious communication, etc -- yes, they all apply here without question, but the really interesting point was the transcendence above these paltry descriptions achieved by a musician who is bristling with highly original ideas.
The two other composers on the programme, Anatoly Liadov and Boris Goltz, also deserve a mention. The latter, who died at only 29 years old, could clearly have gone on to achieve great things; Podobedov's idea to record a CD of his work deserves immediate financial attention. Liadov, less obscure, though rightly coming into some prominence, possessed a lyric quality quite unlike his contemporaries.
To those who missed this concert I can only suggest that one does not miss his return to London next year and go and buy his CD of Haydn, Prokofiev, Schumann and Liadov.
Copyright © 29 May 2005
David Braid, Oxford UK