Sequeira Costa at Wigmore Hall [Schumann, Chopin, Debussy & Turina]

Faschingsschwank aus Wien, Op.26
Piano Sonata No.3 in B minor, Op.58
Suite bergamasque
Danzas fantásticas [from Op.22]

Sequeira Costa (piano)

Reviewed by: Robert Matthew-Walker

Reviewed: 28 June, 2009
Venue: Wigmore Hall, London

Sequeira Costa (b.1929)It may be considered a somewhat risky proposition to begin a programme with one of Schumann’s less popular pieces, although it has been an encouraging sign recently to see his Faschingsschwank aus Wien taken up and recorded by more pianists than used to be the case. Not that it quite reaches the scale of consistent inspiration that the earlier Carnaval has, but it manifestly does not deserve the relative neglect into which it once fell, as Sequiera Costa comprehensively demonstrated at the beginning of a truly outstanding recital.

From the opening bars, his chording and voicing betokened a player of what we suppose might be termed the ‘old school’ – one that stems directly from Liszt, in that Costa (born 1929) is one of the last surviving pupils of a pupil (Vianna da Motta) of the Hungarian master. Apart from these qualities, his tempos and sense of the structure of individual movements were exemplary – so much so that we were obliged to rethink our view of this work.

No such doubts have ever entered our minds with regard to Chopin’s B minor Sonata, of which Costa’s profound interpretation has long been famous. On this occasion, he delivered a reading of the highest class – not least in revealing the form of the music’s emotional content, so that by the time we were halfway through the finale we had been transported to a level of reinterpretation such as is vouchsafed to few artists. Every aspect of this masterpiece was superbly delivered yet never exaggerated.

Debussy’s Suite bergamasque and Turina’s Three Fantastic Dances found Costa on equally sure interpretative footing, albeit in music of very different character. It was no small feat to bring off four such admirable performances as these in one recital – and we found ourselves wondering anew at the mastery of this outstanding artist, still without peer in such core repertoire.

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