If Anne Queffélec’s Wigmore Hall programme was oddly bitty-looking on paper, the point of it quickly became clear in performance: this was an intriguing tour not only of Baroque repertoire, but also of the way music has been re-jigged and re-imagined for the keyboard. Queffélec admirably restricted applause to just two points in the programme, which helped underline the connections and piqued the interest.
I am not sure J. S. Bach’s Chorale Preludes benefit vastly from the transition to the piano, but Busoni’s treatment of BWV659 – almost a ‘song without words’ – works well enough in its own right. Queffélec took a suitably stately approach, with huge pauses, before going straight on to the emotionally somewhat similar, but slighter, Marcello work. Again the main interest here lay in the arrangement, this time by rather than of Bach, and the same applies to the Handel Minuet.
Things got more musically interesting with Queffélec’s effortlessly virtuosic Handel Chaconne: here the textures were lighter, allowing tempo variations and effective use of dynamic contrasts to support but never overshadow the lyricism of the main subject. The final variation was sheer excitement, as it was in the concluding Bach Partita, where again Queffélec’s sympathy with the music shone through: for example, in the way that her dynamics illuminated the counterpoint of the opening ‘Sinfonia’.
- Broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 (available on BBC iPlayer for thirty days afterwards)
- Wigmore Hall www.wigmore-hall.org.uk