Louis Lortie at Wigmore Hall – Piano Sonatas by Mozart (K310), Beethoven (Opus 101) and Brahms (F minor)

Piano Sonata in A minor, K310
Piano Sonata No.28 in A, Op.101
Piano Sonata No.3 in F minor, Op.5

Louis Lortie (piano)

Reviewed by: Colin Anderson

Reviewed: 20 May, 2016
Venue: Wigmore Hall, London

Louis LortiePhotograph: EliasLouis Lortie began his Wigmore Hall recital with the Sturm und Drang of Mozart’s A-minor Piano Sonata, music of agitation, rhythmic élan and rule-breaking harmonies. Lortie’s was a large-scale, strongly emotive account, particularly eloquent in the opera-aria slow movement and fiery in the Finale, during which his Bösendorfer responded wonderfully to all of the pianist’s virtuoso and dynamic requirements, with beautiful tone throughout.

Beethoven’s ‘late’ Opus 101 Sonata opened with improvisatory expressiveness and was followed by a rumbustious reading of the second movement, notable for marrying momentum and clarity with light and shade; quite jaunty really. The slow movement, marked Langsam und sehnsuchtsvoll, was rapt and transporting, and the linked-to Finale enjoyed country-dance exuberance, the fugal episode crisply articulated.

Brahms’s F-minor Sonata crowned the recital, Lortie in command of it from start to finish, publicly majestic and privately contemplative in the first movement, its exposition repeated, the whole searchingly meaningful and with subito changes of dynamics fully encompassed by the outstanding Bösendorfer. With the Andante (spaciously unfolded) Lortie moved into confidential territory; it was spellbindingly sensitive and reached a refulgent climax. With the remaining three movements Lortie continued the splendour – with a bold chiselled Scherzo and a heartfelt Trio, an enthralling ‘Rückblick’ (look back) with its suggestions of muffled funereal drums, and a Finale of youthful ardour, blossoming romance, dignified chorale and scorching rapidity. As Lortie had achieved at the end of the first movement, the Sonata’s ultimate coda was regal in its poise and summation.

On his returns to acknowledge an ovation, Lortie edged ever-nearer to the keyboard each time (also pointing to the Bösendorfer with admiration, rightly so) suggesting an encore was on the cards. When it arrived, it was full-circle to Wolfgang Amadeus, his rather quirky D-minor Fantasia (K397), shared capriciously and enjoyably by Lortie. It ended the evening with a smile.

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