Richard Goode at Wigmore Hall – Mozart Piano Sonatas & Brahms Piano Pieces

Piano Sonata in A minor, K310
6 Klavierstücke, Op.118
Piano Sonata in F, K533/494
4 Klavierstücke, Op.119

Richard Goode (piano)

Reviewed by: Colin Anderson

Reviewed: 12 November, 2015
Venue: Wigmore Hall, London

Richard GoodePhotograph: Steve RiskindRichard Goode opened his latest Wigmore Hall recital with an unvarnished, truth-telling account of Mozart’s A-minor Sonata, the first movement (both halves repeated) encompassing drive and agitation offset by agreeable modulations and considered dynamics. In the central Andante cantabile Goode conjured a great operatic aria, his ornamentation was immaculate, and the rich pathos of the human spirit was revealed. In the compact, nervously restless Finale Goode was the equal of its terseness. To open the recital’s second half, a very different Mozart Sonata, K533/494, Goode enjoying the elegance and bonhomie of the first movement, and utilising deft fingers when required, then perfectly shaping the chaste if darkening Andante, and finally bringing a gentle touch and insouciance to the Allegretto (the K494 part), its whimsy relished and minor-key shadows not glossed over.

Goode used scores throughout (no more than an aide memoire for music he is closely connected to) and spoke volumes from a position of quiet authority, subtlety and clarity always part of the mix. In his treasure-trove sets of late Piano Pieces (covering Opuses 116 to 119) Brahms invested so much expressive largesse into short forms. In Opus 118, Goode was the master of the opening heroic A-minor ‘Intermezzo’ and as tender as you like in its counterpart in A-major, ineffable music to ease the heart’s woes, and also showcasing the beautiful-sounding Steinway. From there, each of the next Pieces were unerringly caught, whether the breath-taking unravelling of the F-minor ‘Intermezzo’ or the hand-holding mission Goode enacted to guide me through the ultimate E-flat minor ‘Intermezzo’ (its secrets closely guarded) with enlightenment. As to Opus 119, the ethereal fragility of Piece No.1 hung in the Wigmore air – transporting – as did the melting lyricism of the next ‘Intermezzo’, balm to its outer sections’ striving. The delicious wit of the next number was perfectly poised and gently rocking (very close to Clifford Curzon’s definitive Decca recording) and then came a majestic account of the closing Rhapsody (during which Brahms maybe consciously looks back to his youth and the F-minor Sonata, Opus 5).

For encores, Goode first bid we imbibe with him in ‘La puerta del Vino’, the third of Debussy’s Book II Préludes, in which rhythms were chiselled and the habanera swayed hypnotically, to which a Chopin Nocturne (in E-flat, Opus 55/2) was the perfect foil and complement, softly flowering to send us out into the night following a rather special evening of music-making.

Richard Goode returns to London on May 25, Schubert’s last three Sonatas in the Royal Festival Hall.

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