Review:28 November 2019 – Pavel Kolesnikov: Chopin, Beethoven, Schumann, Debussy, Bartók

This wonderful recital began with a surprise: Chopin’s exquisite posthumous waltz in A minor, (because the pianist loves it!), preceding the Fantasie-Impromptu in C sharp minor and setting the tone for a musical journey from darkness to light, or perhaps from moonlight to a radiant dawn. The audience were immediately drawn in to this fascinating, non-chronological programme, and remained spellbound throughout. There were no breaks for applause or readjustment, as the seamless pattern took shape, almost organically. As a Chopin sequence ended with the well-known prelude in D flat major, so it then segued in to the opening of Beethoven’s Moonlight sonata in C sharp minor, harmonically apposite and played with no sentimentally but with a gentle awareness of its tragic intensity. A performance of great refinement.

The second half of the concert began with some lesser known works, still referring to the darker hours: Schumann’s Nachtstück no.1, Debussy’s brilliant and technically demanding ‘Feux d’artifice’, and Bartók’s beautiful, if fragmented, ‘The Night’s Music’ from his ‘Out of Doors’ suite. This led us to the culmination of the journey from darkness into daylight, with the second Beethoven sonata, the Waldstein. But Pavel had explained to us that in some European countries this is known as the Aurora sonata – literally ‘the dawn’, and now the exuberance and energy of the music seemed to take flight as Kolesnikov’s extraordinary and apparently effortless skill and musicianship led us to what can only be described as a sublime final rondo. After tumultuous applause we were brought back to earth, and the now glorious daylight, with another stroke of genius: Rameau’s charming little piece, ‘L’appel des oiseaux’ as an encore. Not only a recital, but a deeply satisfying musical experience. Malvern is fortunate indeed to have access to such world class music making.’

Linda Jennings

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