2 Rhapsodies, Op.79 – No.1 in B minor; No.2 in G minor
Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel, Op.24
John Lill (piano)
Reviewed by: Colin Anderson
Reviewed: 1 November, 2009
Venue: Southbank Centre, London – Royal Festival Hall
Just occasionally one missed an element of whimsy in Schumann’s expression, but the Brahms pieces were deeply and completely satisfying, the Two Rhapsodies played with technical suppleness and emotional fire and musing – as well as underlying logic – the G minor being especially hypnotic in its flexibility and seriousness of purpose. To end the concert, Handel’s Theme was crisply delivered, the first of Brahms’s Variations on it given with foot-tapping vitality, ensuing that contrasts – either of personality or dynamics – were often captivating and part of the whole, the closing Fugue glorious in its arrival at the summit.
As an encore to a demanding but not a second too long recital, Lill offered an Intermezzo in B flat minor (the second of Brahms’s Piano Pieces, Opus 117) with the insight and integrity that was typical of his inspiring playing throughout the afternoon.