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Andreas Boyde's recent Derby recital,
reviewed by MIKE WHEELER


For the second year running, Derby Assembly Rooms, UK, has given subscribers to its current concert season a free instrumental recital as part of the package. This year, pianist Andreas Boyde, German-born but now living in London, played a predominantly Brahms/Schumann programme (25 September 2006).

He began, though, with Beethoven -- the Moonlight Sonata, in a performance that began with a clear-eyed but rather matter-of-fact account of the first movement, but ended with a vehement performance of the finale.

The Brahms works were the Variations on an Original Theme, Op 21 No 1, in which the individual variations were more effectively projected than the work's overall shape, and the Two Rhapsodies, Op 79, the second of which, in particular, fell victim to Boyde's rather exaggerated rubato.

The second half began with Schumann's incomplete Variations on Schubert's 'Sehnsuchtwalzer', reconstructed from the fragmentary manuscript by Boyde himself. Boyde has made a convincing job of providing a performable version of the work, though the inclusion of Schubert's original at the end makes for an unsatisfactorily low-key ending.

Schumann later re-used the opening of the Variations to launch one of his greatest piano works, Carnaval, which ended the recital. Boyde's own programme note made much of Schumann's concern over the frequent abrupt changes of mood. Unfortunately this was reflected in a performance that was so intent on the music's drive and energy that the poetry got submerged. The result was a rather charmless series of technical exercises, rather than the fascinating character-studies we normally hear. The final section simply plodded, for all Boyde's brisk pace, losing its rhythmic ambiguity in the process.

Andreas Boyde. Photo © 2004 Suzie Maeder
Andreas Boyde. Photo © 2004 Suzie Maeder

Apart from the list of titles in the Assembly Rooms season brochure, the audience was given no printed information on the music in the first half, which Boyde had to 'back-announce' (in radio parlance) after the interval.

Copyright © 4 October 2006 Mike Wheeler, Derby UK





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