<<< << -- 2 -- Malcolm Troup A PIANISTIC FIRECRACKER
On strode Tali Morgulis to begin the most sharply focussed, imaginatively phrased and impeccably transparent account of Beethoven's 32 Variations that it has ever been my privilege to hear -- the way she eschewed the sustaining pedal being as notorious (from my front-pew view) as the few deft touches when she chose to call it into play. Nothing static in her playing -- usually the bane of this particular work -- there being a forward momentum that carried all (and us) before it from the first note to the last. One could literally feel the miscellaneous public being coiled up into a collective spring as it went on.
Next thing we knew, she had seized the microphone, left to one side by our lady-presenter, to explain why she had changed her programme to include what was to follow: the four rarely-heard Nachtstücke of Schumann who originally thought to call them Leichenfantasie (leichen meaning 'corpse', hence a sort of danse macabre) and which bespeak the pedantic Maestro Raro rather than either Florestan or Eusebius. What in other hands is too often at the mercy of its clunky chordal texture and rhythmic sameness now stood transformed under her searching fingers -- like so many keys unlocking a flawed masterpiece which had too long been kept secret. Only the melody of the best-known fourth Nachtstück was if anything too dry and clipped for its message of consolation to sink in.
With the Tres Danzas argentinas of Ginastera, to which Tali again provided an informal introduction, the recital took off like some inspired musical firecracker for Guy Fawkes Night and Halloween all rolled into one -- the languorous strains of the Danza de la moza donosa contrasting with the cracking rhythms of the Danza del gaucho matrero. Giving us hardly time to draw breath, she pitched into the Tango by Piazzolla, again making us aware of the incredible richness and variety of his stylised treatment -- too often sacrificed on the altar of pop. Vociferous applause brought her back enough times to force a parting-shot -- one of de Falla's dances from La Vida Breve -- which had us marvelling again at a further feat of prestidigitation, thanks to her phenomenal right-hand wrist-hinge, capable of delivering in nano-seconds repetitions of chords at whatever wished-for dynamic or registral levels. This musical salute to Argentina (where even Falla managed to finish his life) was saved from the exhibitionism of one-glissando-too-many by the driving force of her interpretive marksmanship, sans peur et sans reproche. As we half-sashayed half-danced out of St Martin's afterwards, we were all asking ourselves when last we had heard such a wondrously corybantic extravaganza in which the flashing movements of hands and arms had matched so perfectly the kaleidoscopic colours of the sounds they conjured forth.
Copyright © 12 November 2007
Malcolm Troup, London UK
BEETHOVEN PIANO SOCIETY OF EUROPE