Proms at St Jude’s – Evelyne Berezovsky

Beethoven
Piano Sonata No.18 in E flat, Op.31/3
Schumann
Piano Sonata No.2 in G minor, Op.22
Medtner
Sonata Reminiscenza, Op.38/1

Evelyne Berezovsky (piano)


Reviewed by: Kenneth Carter

Reviewed: 21 June, 2008
Venue: St Jude-on-the-Hill, Hampstead Garden Suburb, London

Evelyne Berezovsky, daughter of (pianist) Boris, was born in 1991. She combines a blossoming professional career with continuing her studies at the Purcell School. She plays most expertly, brings spirited energy to the task, and writes her own programme notes.

In this lunchtime recital, Beethoven’s sonata sped past at hurtling speed, resembling the hustle and blur of an express train dashing past an awaiting traveller on a railway platform, with no time for anything other than velocity. I didn’t recognise the sonata’s first movement until, at home, I played Paul Badura-Skoda’s performance (and he’s no slouch). The difference, however, was manifest. Badura-Skoda’s playing has light and shade, and time for pointed phrasing. I heard a musical discussion in which different opinions were voiced. From Berezovsky the remaining three movements all speeded: the scherzo, the minuet and the rousing finale (a gallop, in effect, with hunting-horn imitations). How do you pace these movements to distinguish between speed and pace, between agitation of nerves as against pulse? This demands experience. Berezovsky is yet young.

The Schumann received similar treatment. A sense of strain was apparent, and a lack of shape; it made for uneasy listening. Speed is demanded – commanded, indeed: “As fast as you can” is followed by “Faster still”, Florestan driving the music forward, intently manic – Schumann in combative mood. Berezovsky relaxed a little for Eusebius’s brief Andantino, but this moment of repose passed all too soon.

Medtner’s one-movement Sonata fared so much better. This was Berezovsky’s home-ground. She treated the romantic turbulence with a more relaxed demeanour, though no loss of urgency. She found pace rather than speed – and, as a result, the restlessness gripped and made musical sense. Her lyrical passages were tender and most affecting, decisive yet gentle.

The lyrical encore – a miniature from Scriabin – had the same quality. This was ‘home’.

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