Andreas Haefliger at Wigmore Hall – Mozart’s B-minor Adagio K540, Beethoven’s Opus 90 Sonata, Bartók Out of Doors, Brahms’s F-minor Sonata

Mozart
Adagio in B minor, K540
Beethoven
Piano Sonata No.27 in E minor, Op.90
Bartók
Out of Doors
Brahms
Piano Sonata No.3 in F minor, Op.5

Andreas Haefliger (piano)


Reviewed by: Colin Anderson

Reviewed: 3 December, 2015
Venue: Wigmore Hall, London

Andreas HaefligerPhotograph: Marco BorggreveAndreas Haefliger opened his Wigmore Hall recital with the emotional disquiet of Mozart’s Adagio in B minor. He did though find consolation within the austere writing and gave the music largesse through a spacious tempo, expressive phrasing and the observance of repeats. After which Beethoven’s compact, two-movement E-minor Sonata was warmly lyrical, Haefliger always bestowing the melodies with shapely care while ensuring that vitality coursed through the music: it was a very persuasive marrying of this work’s elements. In the arresting percussive opening to Bartók’s Szabadban (Out of Doors), Haefliger continued to make music rather than simply pound the piano, but there was nothing diluted here, Bartók’s combative writing fully exposed. In contrast, the star-gazing of ‘Barcarolla’ was especially suggestive, as were the flickering fires and folksy imitations to be found in ‘The night’s music’ (which seems to anticipate the slow movement of Piano Concerto No.2) before ‘The chase’ stampeded to its coruscating conclusion. Throughout, Haefliger was in complete command.

As he was in Brahms’s magnificent F-minor Sonata, poised yet fiery in the first movement (with the all-important exposition repeat observed), which also enjoyed affection, tumult and impetuosity. The Andante espressivo was a highpoint, Haefliger creating a rapt world through wonderfully tender playing … then straight into the (here) majestic Scherzo – from nocturnal musing to ballroom brightness – and with a gorgeously expansive Trio. In the strange reminiscences of the fourth-movement ‘Rückblick’ a riddle-me-this quality was evident as the Andante is re-visited in different terms, with funereal tread … to which the opening of the Finale was indivisible. Haefliger created the loveliest of blooms for the second subject, found the chorale theme to be noble, ruled the passages of off-the-scale virtuosity and returned to the first movement’s triumphant dignity. It was an impressive performance, and Haefliger followed it with a generous encore, Liszt’s Legend No.1 ‘St Francis preaching to the birds’, the composer in visionary form, not least in anticipating Debussy’s powers of description. With Haefliger creating many timbres and images something of a revelation took place.

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