Andreas Haefliger at Queen Elizabeth Hall

Piano Sonata in C, K330
Wagner, transcribed Liszt
Tristan und Isolde – Liebestod
Piano Sonata in A, K331
Piano Sonata in B flat, D960

Andreas Haefliger (piano)

Reviewed by: Richard Landau

Reviewed: 26 May, 2010
Venue: Southbank Centre, London – Queen Elizabeth Hall

Andreas Haefliger. Photograph: Marco BorggreveAndreas Haefliger brought his undoubted technical prowess to bear on some very personal interpretations. In Mozart’s C major Sonata he captured much of the piquancy of the outer movements and his playing of the Andante cantabile was particularly touching. Conversely the A major Sonata was somewhat short on charm especially in a rather relentless account of the ‘alla Turca’ finale, which has such potential to delight.

Between the Mozart came Liszt’s arrangement of the ‘Liebestod’ from “Tristan und Isolde”. The rationale for this choice and its placement was not made clear, but the performance offered neither a satisfying pianistic realisation of Wagner’s original nor any sense of transcendence. As the music died away, Haefliger’s hands hovered over the keys for a full half-minute, imposing on the audience a reverential silence that seemed inappropriate.

When Haefliger launched the opening paragraphs of Schubert’s great B flat Sonata it was clear that this work is very close to his heart. The expansive opening was notable for a sense of line, a quality maintained throughout the first movement. The Andante was affecting, its central section nicely calibrated to relieve the predominantly sad mood. Taken as a whole Schubert’s ultimate piano sonata was given a very individual reading, compromised only by an over-attentiveness to detail that intermittently hampered the music’s natural flow and precluded a real sense of ‘things beyond’.

As an encore Haefliger gave a highly contemplative account of Mozart’s Adagio in B minor (K540), which made a deep impression.

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