During this Wigmore Hall recital Richard Goode gave abundant evidence of his authoritative technique, although his playing was not always completely satisfying.
His rendition of Haydn’s Variations captured the essence of the composer. It featured an exquisite understanding of melody, a graceful arsenal of ornaments and trills, and a complete mastery of the most virtuosic passages; the sections flowed so naturally that the set felt completely coherent. The same good taste was present in the explosive coda. Goode’s Mozart was equally fresh and well-balanced. The March was fresh and convincing, the Allemande full of pathos and deep emotional commitment, the Courante delivered with exquisite taste and nonchalant precision, the Minuet playful and brilliant, and the Gigue vibrant and detailed.
With the exception of an awe-inspiring Finale, Goode’s rendition of Beethoven’s ‘Les adieux’ was the less satisfactory part of the concert. The first movement began well with the solemn and operatic introduction. However, the exposition was too rushed, and resulted in awkward tempo shifts and some inaccuracies. Perhaps, for this reason, the repeat of the exposition exhibited slightly different dynamic and stylistic choices. Goode’s use of the pedal was sometimes too unrestricted, particularly during the recapitulation and the coda, which finished with two unsatisfying chords. During the Andante espressivo, the pianist’s use of dynamics was often mannered; luckily, Goode’s brilliant rendition of the frenetic Finale redeemed any previous problems.
Following the interval, Goode gave a hypnotic interpretation of Janáček’s In the Mists, intoxicating and highly evocative, colourful and tender, and the final Presto exhibited tremendous mastery (particularly during the climax) before concluding with prophetic undertones. Of the Chopin selection the Impromptu was rushed and lacked breathing space, whereas the Mazurkas were elegantly executed and deeply felt. The programme ended with a brilliantly played Fantasy, although there were times when Goode was hasty.
The recital concluded with two bonus pieces: Chopin’s Prelude Opus 28/17 given with warmth, and two dances (1591) from the English Renaissance composer William Byrd exhibited exquisite modal sonorities.