This beautifully recorded Wigmore Hall recital – true to the venue in its presence and lucidity – opens with the Three Intermezzos that make up Brahms’s Opus 117; the first in particular, if a little too spacious, is played tenderly by Simon Trpčeski and with generous expression. He is perhaps too leisurely in all three pieces – each is marked Andante if qualified differently – although his is a big heart. Brahms’s Handel Variations follows. Trpčeski plays with character and dynamism, relishing the numerous contrasts, Brahms’s writing brought off with clarity and colour, quicksilver wit contrasting with beefy rhetoric. There is plenty of bravura and phrasal consideration to enjoy in Trpčeski’s account of this masterpiece and the Fugue is a powerfully crafted summation.
The French half opens with Ravel’s Valses nobles et sentimentales (unlike Brahms’s Variations, each Waltz is given a separate track), with Trpčeski varying his touch from percussive to delicate and stressing the music’s amiable side, conjuring a world-away charm and never straying outside of Ravel’s personal and precise parameters. To close, nine short pieces by Francis Poulenc (including ‘Hommage à Edith Piaf’) that makes for a collection of bittersweet, nimbly dancing and muscular miniatures. Whether sad, humorous or bittersweet, each is played with affection and virtuosity by Trpčeski, and the ‘Toccata’ makes for a scintillating close. Applause is retained here, as it is at the end of Brahms’s Variations, but is wisely omitted (or never took place) from the quietly-concluding Opus 117 and Ravel.