On Wings of Song – Mitsuko Uchida’s sublime Schubert

On wings of song. Mitsuko Uchida at the Royal Festival Hall in London
Mitsuko Uchida on wings of song.
Sublime music making as she herself says Schubert’s music is at once personal and profound.
Every note speaks and touches your soul.
In the first of two recitals of Schubert Sonatas Mitsuko Uchida swept onto the platform of the Royal Festival Hall and immediately plunged into the great C minor Sonata D.958. Such rhythmic energy and real passion it was the only really Beethovenian statement that we were to get tonight .
For like Wilhelm Kempff that great kapellmeister of the piano who in his later years forsook his nobility and overwhelming authority for something much more subtle and poetic.
He had found the true secret of how to make the piano sing.
Gone were the bar lines and any resemblance of percussiveness.
In its place was a sublime legato that drew the audience in to him as if sharing an intimate secret with them.
Thus it was tonight .
The great opening statement of the C minor soon gave way to the most sublime legato. Chromatic scales almost impossibly whispered with the menacing opening rhythm only hinted at in the left hand before erupting into the recapitulation.
She had no time for any little mishaps or muddyness that might occurr on her long search to eliminate any sense of percussiveness from what is after all a percussive instrument.
It was Schubert ,the greatest song smith of all, that was paramount in Mitsuka Uchidas heart and soul.
The Adagio played like the great song it is with absolutely no sense of percussiveness but an almost superhuman control of sound that allowed her to shape so naturally.
Schubert’s seemingly seemless unending invention.
The middle section of the Menuetto played as if a wondrous murmured song that linked up so well with the da capo of the Menuetto.
The supreme clarity of rhythmic invention of the last movement in her hands dissolved so naturally into the heavenly hint of melody that Schubert could not resist even here.
The little A Major Sonata D.664 that opens with a simple melody so beautifully shaped with such a subtle sense of rubato . The great octave passages completely integrated into this cantabile context and a heartrending ending that seemed to get ever more quiet as it whispered its farewell.
A transcendental feat of piano playing for any that have tried to shape a melodic line from piano to pianissimo.
The wonderful duet effect in the slow movement was matched to the seeming simplicity with which she played the charming last movement.
I well remember Mitsuko’s monumental Hammerklavier in the Leeds Competition all those years ago, so much admired by Rosalyn Tureck, when she took a top prize with Alexeev and Schiff.
As I remember too the truly overwhelmingly powerful performance of Brahm’s F minor Sonata in the mighty hands of Wilhelm Kempff.
Wonderful and overpowering as it was they were projecting to the audience whereas in the later period of their careers they have a need to bring the audience in to them.
What better example than the minutes of total silence that greeted Mitsuko Uchida’s sublime performance of the great G major Sonata.
No words could describe this totally unblemished performance as near perfection as I would have thought possible.
She had the whole audience of thousands following her every sound and she did not let them down in the sublime thirty minutes or so of sheer music making .
A standing ovation particularly appreciated by her from the music students that had been seated behind her on the platform.
An almost inaudible langsam second piece from Schoenbergs six little pieces op 19 made the audience work even harder to listen to every note just as she was .
Performer and audience were united in the creation of music .
A truly remarkable experience for all those privileged to be present .
The second concert on Friday with another three Sonatas I can’t wait .

Che dire……sublime Mitsuko Uchida part 2

From the very first note of the usually much overlooked B major sonata.
Through a monumental performance of the big A minor.
The opening theme so many subtle ways of saying goodbye and the ever present throbbing heart beat.
Quite unforgettable.

The great D major perhaps the most Beethovenian of Schubert sonatas but where the toy like clockwork precision in the last movement is sublimely Schubert. Touched more by Mozart for its simple innocent purity than the complexity of Beethoven.
I have only heard Curzon come near to this interpretation with Schnabel`s “too easy for children but too difficult for adults” made so apparent.

A sublime evening where pure music spoke louder than words .

And now part 3?
The last two hopefully soon.


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