Boris Giltburg

Bach, trans. Busoni
Partita in D minor for Unaccompanied Violin, BWV1004 – Chaconne
Davidsbündlertänze, Op.6
Piano Sonata No.3 in A minor, Op.28

Boris Giltburg (piano)

Reviewed by: Kevin Rogers

Reviewed: 20 January, 2008
Venue: Wigmore Hall, London

Boris Giltburg. Photograph: Eric RichmondBoris Giltburg is 23 years old, born in Moscow and living in Tel Aviv since early childhood. Performing at the Wigmore Hall is a real test of any musician’s mettle. This Sunday morning recital opened with Busoni’s arrangement of Bach’s Chaconne (for solo violin – there’s also a left-hand piano version by Brahms) began stately enough, with the themes clearly expressed. Whilst lacking in delicacy (he was rather heavy-handed with the left), Giltburg certainly built the piece to emphasise the expansive plateaux that can be explored in the music and revelled in the marching rhythms.

Schumann, by his own admission, found that the very act of creating Davidsbündlertänze (Dances of the Band of David) gave him the greatest of pleasure. It is surprising to note that they were originally published as separate pieces rather than the collection of eighteen. Clara Schumann was the private dedicatee of the work (she and Schumann had recently become secretly engaged) although she confessed to being rather baffled by it. The many, and rapid, changes of mood make the music incredibly restless. It can an assault on the mind, but the changing ideas and conflicts are what make this one of Schumann’s most idiomatic works.

The pieces do what might be expected and here lacked surprise. Giltburg’s playing displayed a high level of competence and clarity without ever giving up its inner depths. The opening was attacked then ebbed and flowed. The grander moments were fine but those sparse episodes offered less fertile ground.

Prokofiev’s single-movement Sonata No.3 from 1917 was attacked with some vigour, resulting in quieter passages that were overplayed. However, the display of gusto in the music was captivating, with fire at the close.

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