Marc Laforet at the Wigmore Hall

Sonata in C K330
Piano Piece in E flat D946/2
Impromptus D899/2 & 4
Sonata No.2 in B flat minor
Two Nocturnes Op.27
Scherzo in B minor

Marc Laforet

Reviewed by: Colin Anderson

Reviewed: 1 March, 2001
Venue: Wigmore Hall, London

Parisian Marc Laforet introduced himself as a chap with a ready wit and sparkling repartee – Mozart’s outer movements raced along crisply. Laforet ’bulged’ a few incidents to highlight them and revealed a beguiling turn of phrase in the slow movement. Over-insistent pressing into the keys limited aural pleasure; Laforet certainly relished the concerto-like brilliance.

It’s a shame he divorced the middle of Schubert’s Three Piano Pieces; it really needs its companions. There were nice things here: warmth of expression, generous phrases. There was also a lack of colour, a tendency to drag and – despite some by-now-predictable sudden dynamic changes – a lack of shading.

Laforet attempted to be dramatic and fleet: in D946/2 there was a melodramatic climax that warranted the showing of a silent film; his glacial runs in D899/2 suggested etude rather than impromptu.

That something profound and involving is lacking in Laforet’s playing was highlighted by a scrambled, aggressive and disjointed account of Chopin’s ’funeral march’ sonata. The introductory bars (not heard again as part of the exposition repeat, although Chopin is now believed to have intended a repetition of these bars)lacked authority, and the ensuing bullish charge through first movement and scherzo palled. The march itself had a stoical tread but the reflective interlude seemed interminable (not the first time a slow section had outstayed its welcome); this was followed by the enigmatic aphorism that is the finale, which was too loud and without chill.

There were times though when a depth of response, a phrasal simplicity and a terracing of dynamics were apparent; and there was much that was likeable about Laforet’s ingenuous pianism. It seems to me that he needs to cultivate a true legato, develop a wider palette of colour, exhibit more poise, curb the excitable bursts, take a longer-view with structure, save his loudest playing for when he really needs it, and better integrate sections and lead-back bars. He has a rock-solid technique and is a master of the notes.

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