Lars Vogt

Piano Sonata in C, K330Komarova
Tänze mit verbundenen Augen
Piano Sonata in A, K331
Piano Sonata in B flat, D960

Lars Vogt (piano)

Reviewed by: Douglas Cooksey

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

This was a deeply introspective evening of Mozart and Schubert. Lars Vogt had played the Schubert sonata at Cadogan Hall as part of Proms 2005, a recital that also included ‘Three Blindfold Dances’ (2003) by the composer’s wife, Tatiana Komarova.

Lars Vogt ‘inhabits’ the great Austro-German repertoire from the inside, these two Mozart sonatas being a prime example. Spare, slightly austere and unostentatious, there is never any doubt that Vogt is a probing musician who effortlessly finds a depth and character in both these seemingly simple works. The minor-key episodes in their slow movements were particularly effective, time seemingly standing still (and, in this respect, the minor key Trio of the A major sonata can seldom have sounded more Schubertian). Occasionally Vogt strays outside the box and suddenly turns up the volume – in the ‘Alla Turca’ finale to the same sonata – and the effect can be disconcerting, almost schizophrenic, coming as it does after so much ‘contained’ inward playing.

Komarova’s ‘Blindfold Dances’ are not dances in the normal sense of the word. Rather, to quote the programme note, they “portray the searching, questing spirit of mankind, the inner movements of the soul that arise from the quest for individual security and a sense of belonging”. The most arresting is the hypnotic central dance with its tolling heartbeat in the bass and massively sustained sonorities, rather like ‘late’ Liszt. The final dance, spare, lopsided and making a virtue of its fragmentary nature proved oddly memorable too. This rather bleak music lodges in the mind.

Schubert’s last sonata, given with exposition repeat, received an appropriately exploratory performance of the utmost concentration – with the first movement’s Molto moderato marking taken at face value – and Vogt made the most of its many pauses. His very restraint elsewhere threw into sharp relief the massive climaxes. Especially satisfying however were the other three movements, Vogt finding simplicity and forward momentum in the Andante. He took the scherzo at the marked Allegro vivace (rather than something faster, and making the most of the off-beats in the trio) whilst the thoughtful and measured finale had an emotional weight to make it a genuine counterbalance to the first movement.

This was serious, deeply satisfying playing. I recall Clara Haskil programming Mozart’s C major and Schubert’s B flat sonatas together in Edinburgh – comparison with Haskil is entirely apt, for she, like Vogt, was a musician’s musician.

After Vogt’s act of near-religious communion no encore was offered, and rightly so.

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