English Suite in G minor, BWV808
24 Preludes and Fugues, Op.87 No.2 in A minor; No.4 in E minor; No.15 in D flat
Mazurkas in C, Op.56/2; A minor, Op.17/4; C sharp minor, Op.63/3
Scherzo in C sharp minor, Op.39
Sonata No.7 in B flat, Op.83
Rustem Hayroudinoff (piano)
Reviewed by: Colin Anderson
Reviewed: 21 December, 2006
Venue: Wigmore Hall, London
A mixed recital in every sense and presented with unsigned programme notes sometimes short on details of keys and other cataloguing details.
Although Rustem Hayroudinoff was in fine technical command, there was a tendency for him to be brusque, overloud and short of variegation. Bach’s English Suite was forceful and matter-of-fact, alive with incident to be sure, and played out in a twilight ambience. ‘Ploughing the furrow’ came to mind in the faster movements; yet the slower ones were more engaging with some effective contrasts. With lighting increased if less than usual (if still plenty), Hayroudinoff found little flexibility in Debussy’s Suite Bergamasque. Expressive largesse seemingly an unpredictable quality, even ‘Clair de lune’ lacked a magical aura, although there was some effective modulations in the final ‘Passepied’. Three of Shostakovich’s Preludes and Fugues were restricted, somewhat marmoreal, although Hayroudinoff seemed well attuned to moments of introspection. The hair-raising D flat piece was too pounded for all its manic character to emerge.
This had turned out to be a long first half; and the extended interval only added to the sense that time-taken didn’t equate to interpretative illumination. The three Chopin Mazurkas – from a collection that could be termed among this composer’s most elusive and complex, yet which seemed less so here; rather pedestrian and matter of fact, the opening of the first one was ‘horribly loud’ (a comment I wrote down there and then!). The Scherzo was technically imperious, played with some feeling, but with fewer colours than is desirable to sustain the whole.
There was much to suggest that Hayroudinoff would be best disposed to Prokofiev’s Seventh Sonata. This was true to a point; yet, again, little variety and some brittleness rather overdid the remorseless aspects of this concentrated work. There was little sentiment in the slow movement and the toccata-like finale was ‘too much too soon’.
Hayroudinoff played a substantial encore, one based on Johann Strauss II’s The Blue Danube, so I am assuming it was Schulz-Evler’s ‘Concert Arabesque’ on said waltz (Hayroudinoff did offer an introduction, which was inaudible to those of us at the back of the hall). Every technical trick in the book is thrown at the pianist, which Hayroudinoff dealt with nonchalantly.