Bach, arr. Busoni
Partita in D minor for unaccompanied violin, BWV1004 – Chaconne
Piano Sonata in C, Op.53 (Waldstein)
Three Intermezzos, Op.117
Variations and Fugue on a Theme of Handel, Op.24
Llŷr Williams (piano)
Reviewed by: Colin Anderson
Reviewed: 22 September, 2010
Venue: Wigmore Hall, London
Llŷr Williams opened his serious and demanding Wigmore Hall recital with a fine account of Busoni’s full-blooded transcription of Bach’s solo-violin ‘Chaconne’, Williams both limpid and impetuous, with just a hint of danger, and certainly displaying depth of feeling, the roulade of notes dealt with restlessly if not always with the utmost dynamism. Beethoven’s ‘Waldstein’ Sonata was fluent, the opening movement fleet and with it having a pugnacious ’ring of truth’; yet the first movement through the repeat of the exposition and in the recapitulation seemed to get ever faster and Williams could be too emphatic at times. He did though bring out well the strangeness and solemnity of the slow movement and make a natural progression into the regal finale.
The Brahms second part began with the Three Intermezzos huddled together under Opus 117. In the first of them, Williams conjured a warmer sound from the piano than hitherto, the slow pace justified by sensitive feeling. The second Intermezzo was effectively shaped and beautifully modulated between head and heart, Classical lineage and Romantic leanings. The remaining piece tended to ramble. The Handel Variations was much less a success, Williams under-characterising this set, missing its wit and variety, happier with rhetoric and the Fugue, but the whole was unvaried across the whole. As an encore, Williams offered Liszt’s rather melodramatic and silent-film-like transcription of the ‘Liebestod’ from Wagner’s “Tristan und Isolde”; there’s more passion in this music but at least Williams tempered Liszt’s excess with some dignity.