Eduard Kunz

Domenico Scarlatti
Sonata in B minor, Kk197
Sonata in B minor, Kk27
Sonata in A, Kk212
Divertimento (Sonata) in A, HXVI:12
L’isle Joyeuse
Moments musicaux, Op.16

Eduard Kunz (piano)

Reviewed by: Ben Hogwood

Reviewed: 2 October, 2006
Venue: Wigmore Hall, London

Three consecutive solo piano recitals for BBC Radio 3 on Monday lunchtimes, but this one, following Joanna MacGregor and Barry Douglas, expanded to take in three centuries – just. Eduard Kunz is one of BBC Radio 3’s New Generation Artists, and the programme offered him a chance to demonstrate a range of styles, and technique and colour – and, in doing so, achieving impressive musicality.

Rachmaninov’s Moments Musicaux are deceptively titled, not brief sketches in the vein of Schubert but substantial pieces. The longest piece and the cycle’s emotional core is the third, an obviously Russian meditation. Kunz played the recurring theme with an unaffected simplicity, holding the tension well, though the left-hand’s lower register was edgy when employed: possibly a valid approach. The second and fourth pieces are more obviously virtuosic, with a real sense of turbulence in the former and some pointed exchanges between parts in the stormy fourth as it rushed along.

Even seated at the back, the sheer volume Kunz was able to secure was almost overpowering at the end of the second and final pieces, though the latter ‘Maestoso’ was a fittingly emphatic conclusion if initially over-pedalled.

Earlier in the recital was music of relative structural economy. Kunz opened with a trio of Scarlatti sonatas, though in a sense the Haydn felt like a fourth as it completed a satisfying sequence of B minor and A major. A feather-light touch was the immediate feature of Kk197, marked Andante, though this felt rather slow. The toccata-like figurations of Kk27 offered an immediate contrast however, the left-hand darting back and forward across the right-hand with clipped phrases as Kunz hunched over the piano. The Haydn received a graceful performance, beautifully finished with a touch of humour that complemented the final movement’s scurrying main theme.

Debussy’s L’isle Joyeuse offered a bridge between these and the Rachmaninov, and Kunz had barely sat down when he dived into it with relish, keeping a tight grip on the structure but showing an acute sense of colour and nicely pointed phrasing.

Aged 26, it is perhaps not surprising that Kunz should identify with the young Rachmaninov, but the concert illustrated a dexterity and poise boding well for future ventures. An encore of Siloti’s arrangement of Bach’s Prelude in B minor (BWV855a) restored some calm and brought the music full-circle.

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