Louis Schwizgebel at Wigmore Hall – Haydn, Chopin & Liszt

Piano Sonata in E flat, HXVI:49
Ballade in A flat, Op.47; Etude in C sharp minor, Op.25/7; Waltz in C sharp minor, Op.64/2; Fantaisie-Impromptu in C sharp minor,Op.66
Consolation No.3 in D flat, S172; Hungarian Rhapsody No.6 in D flat, S244

Louis Schwizgebel (piano)

Reviewed by: Arnold Jarvist

Reviewed: 23 February, 2015
Venue: Wigmore Hall, London

Louis SchwizgebelPhotograph: Marco BorggreveSwiss-Chinese pianist Louis Schwizgebel has been a member of BBC Radio 3’s New Generation Artist scheme since 2013, the year after he won the second prize in the Leeds International Piano Competition. With other awards, a busy international concert schedule and a recording of Beethoven’s Piano Concertos 1 and 2 with the London Philharmonic and Thierry Fischer under his belt already, the 27-year-old Schwizgebel is an artist to take note of – an impression further borne out by this Wigmore Hall BBC Lunchtime Concert.

The recital began with a Haydn Sonata from around 1790, demonstrating Schwizgebel’s strong affinity for Classical repertoire. Following a crisp and lively Allegro there followed the real heart of the piece – a romantic-leaning Adagio which Schwizgebel treated to a delicately floating but always focused reading, muscular in its central stormy outbursts. Haydn wrote to his friend, Marianna von Genzinger, regarding this movement, that he wished she would replace her harpsichord with a fortepiano “for you could then produce twice the effect.” During this heartfelt modern-piano performance it was certainly impossible to imagine the same music on a harpsichord. With its Alberti bass lines and light, trill-adorned melodies, however, the Minuet finale would have been well suited to the baroque instrument. In Schwizgebel’s hands it was delightfully buoyant and flowing.

The remainder of the programme provided increasing opportunities for romantic weight and virtuosity. A quartet of Chopin works began with the Ballade in A flat, Schwizgebel revelling in its idiomatic folksiness, bittersweet melancholy and infectious dancing lilt. The Etude in C sharp minor was soulful and intense, contrasting greatly with the almost nonchalant briskness with which the following Waltz in the same key was dispatched. Another well-known work concluded the set: the Fantaisie-Impromptu, also in C sharp minor, which was treated to a breathless account showcasing Schwizgebel’s terrific dexterity. These were unmistakably a young man’s performances (which is not to say immature – an impression that has often been given by Lang Lang). In time, Schwizgebel might well savour the music more, but that is not to take anything away from the excitement and exhilaration here.

Liszt’s D-flat Consolation, dreamy and lilting, led on nicely from the Chopin set, and the recital concluded with a barnstorming account of the Hungarian Rhapsody No.6 – the red-blooded gutsy opening contrasting with filigree delicacy, soulfulness, and full-throated dazzling virtuosity to finish. The encore, a delightfully scampering account of Moszkowski’s Etincelles, rounded off an enthralling hour of music.

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