Mikhail Rudy at Wigmore Hall

Études, Opp.8, 42 & 65 [selections]
Miroirs – Oiseaux tristes
Gaspard de la nuit
Nocturnes – Op.27; in C sharp minor, Op.posth; in C minor, Op.48/1
Piano Sonata No.2 in B flat minor, Op.35

Mikhail Rudy (piano)

Reviewed by: Rob Pennock

Reviewed: 10 May, 2011
Venue: Wigmore Hall, London

Mikhail Rudy. Photograph: www.schmidtart.comMikhail Rudy is now in his late-fifties and rarely appears in London. For this Wigmore Hall recital he started with Scriabin. The opening Study was rather stiff and loud. In the next there was too much pedal and in the third piece of Opus 42 the hands were too even, the bass muddy, the trilling uneven and the dynamic level a constant mf. A rather worrying feature of Rudy’s playing is an ungainly – verging on ugly – right-hand, and all of the pieces were subsumed into an over-pedalled, bland soundworld that was completely at odds with the composer’s style. Ravel’s Oiseaux tristes was more effective. Here there was rubato, a more refined right-hand and a beautifully tolling bass in the last page. Unfortunately Gaspard de la nuit came off the rails. The climax of ‘Ondine’ was crude. There was absolutely no atmosphere in ‘Le gibet’, just an over-pedalled, technically inept wash of sound. The fiendish ‘Scarbo’ was very measured, not – one felt – for interpretative reasons, but because the pianist wasn’t able to play it any faster.

The Chopin Nocturnes fared no better. Both of the Opus 27 pieces were lumpy and devoid of line and feeling. In the E minor piece the trills were approximate and despite the more lyrical opening to the first Nocturne of Opus 47 the climax of the central section was pounded out and the build-up to it started too early. The Sonata’s first movement was slow, its technical demands again beyond Rudy; the scherzo lacked rhythmic control and the trio was too loud and matter-of-fact. Much the same could be said of the ‘Funeral March’, its trio devoid of rubato and feeling, and there was an ugly break to the finale’s semiquaver flow (not that you could hear any of the notes, the fingering was so imprecise). Rather bizarrely there was an encore, Rudy’s arrangement of a number from Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet, which was a disjointed, vulgar assault on the music.

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