The always-welcome Richard Goode returned to London for a seriously stimulating recital of connections – Chopin’s reverence for J. S. Bach, Beethoven anticipating Chopin (the slow movement of the ‘Pathetique’ Sonata, for example) and dance-rhythms galore.
Goode opened with J. S. Bach’s extensive E-minor Partita. Of its seven movements, the ‘Toccata’ rippled with expression and further clarity illuminated the ‘Allemande’, Goode’s hands wonderfully even, counterpoint perfectly matched. Such interplay delighted the ‘Corrente’, here vibrant, and other highlights included a ‘Sarabande’ that was a perfect antidote to our troubled times and a quicksilver account of the final ‘Gigue’, music that goes beyond its title.
The Chopin group was no-less distinguished. The harmonically restless and dynamically dramatic B-major Nocturne was immaculately phrased and included wonderful trills that were more than decoration. Goode is a master of the Mazurkas (so was Ivan Moravec), danceable and earthy, and he doesn’t try to demystify these pieces’ elusive aspects. Lastly, the Polonaise-Fantaisie Opus 61 (in place of the F-sharp Polonaise, Opus 44) which opened tenderly and with potency. Maybe Goode pushed a little too hard on the music’s majesty, if with passion, but he melded flights of fancy and intimacy as indivisible.
The ‘late’ Beethoven Piano Sonatas made a complementary pair, both compact in design if immense in their respective worlds. How attuned Goode is to the first movements’ Gesangvoll aspects, and also receptive to the dissonance and disruption that intrudes Opus 101, and how gentle and silky yet suspenseful he was in Opus 110 without ever being precious; and if the earlier Sonata’s Scherzo needed a bit more propulsion (if not the Trio) then Opus 110’s corresponding movement (with its oblique Trio) scurried with purpose. Of the slow movements, that of the A-major was profound beyond words and the Finale, including Bachian fugue, let the sunshine in en route to a resolute close. In the Adagio opening of the A-flat’s multi-faceted Finale Goode created a world away if one within tangible reach, and with another fugue (recurring) and numerous pivotal getting-louder G-major chords, the building-blocks were in place to complete a triumphant edifice, and Richard Goode is an architect of wholeness.
He offered an encore, the gently meditative ‘Dobrou noc!’ (Good Night!) from the first book of Janáček’s On an Overgrown Path, played with rapt sensitivity, and with a title like that this impressive concert came to an end.