Partita in B flat, BWV 825
Chaconne in G
Variations on “Ah, vous dirai-je, Maman”, K265
Jill Crossland (piano)
Reviewed by: Douglas Cooksey
Reviewed: 11 December, 2002
Venue: St Jamess Church, Piccadilly, London
This excellent lunchtime recital featured the Paul Badura-Skoda pupil Jill Crossland. Despite her youth she has already notched up an impressive number of appearances with a number of major artists and has played at the Wigmore Hall and in the South Bank’s “Fresh” series, a well-received account of Bach’s Goldberg Variations, which she has recorded. If that CD is anything like as good as her Bach on this occasion, then it will be well worth hearing.
The programme opened with Handel’s Chaconne, given with power and gravitas. Playing Bach and Handel on a Bösendorfer piano has some real advantages, not least the crisp treble and the slightly crunchy bass sound which, whilst not mimicking the sound of a harpsichord, does at least replicate some of its characteristics more readily than a Steinway, notably in the weight of the bass and the clarity of the treble. Here Crossland produced a performance of some grandeur and, hearing the music played this way, one could well imagine why Handel’s music was to exercise so potent an appeal on Brahms. His Handel Variations only seemed but a short step away.
The highlight of the recital was an outstanding performance of the first Bach Partita. Here Crossland successfully adapted to a very different sound world, finding much light and shade and characterising the dance movements with great subtlety. In particular, the ’Allemande’ and ’Courante’ drew one into an interior, reflective world, everything balanced with a quiet precision, the inner voices emerging completely naturally from the textures without any underlining or false stresses. The concluding ’Gigue’ was given with real virtuosity and a palpable sense of joy.
The final work was Mozart’s Variations on the tune otherwise known as “Twinkle, twinkle little star”. This is Mozart at his least pretentious. Despite an occasional tendency to over-forcefulness, the variations received a crisp, well-characterised performance from Crossland, reminding us that her mentor, Badura-Skoda, was one of the really great Mozart pianists. In fact, given the quality of Crossland’s playing, one rather wished that something more substantial had been programmed to conclude the recital.
Clearly Jill Crossland is a pianist to be reckoned with.