Pontus Carron at Steinway Hall London
Pontus Carron at Steinway Hall.
Authoritative and convinced playing of quite extraordinary power were the hallmark of some remarkable playing by the young Swedish pianist.
A rarely heard sonata by Stenhammar with all the sweep and passion of Schumann revealed an injustly neglected pianist composer of the 19th century.
His works were quite varied and included two completed symphonies, a substantial Serenade for Orchestra, two piano concertos , four piano sonatas , a violin sonata, six string quartets , many songs and other vocal works, including several large-scale works for chorus or voices and orchestra: the early ballad Florez och Blanzeflor, Op. 3, written around 1891, Ithaka, Op. 21, from 1904, the cantatas Ett folk (A people) from 1905 and Sången (The song), Op. 44, from 1921.
He was considered the finest Swedish pianist of his time and recorded five piano rolls for Welte-Mignon on 21 September 1905.
Wilhelm Stenhammar was born in Stockholm and received his first musical education in Stockholm.
He then went to Berlin to further his studies in music and became a glowing admirer of German music, particularly that of Wagner and Bruckner. He himself described the style of his First Symphony in F major as “idyllic Bruckner.”
He died of a stroke at the age of 56 in Jonsered and is buried in Gothenburg.
Hats off to Pontus who had also chosen a little study especially to celebrate on this very day the birthday of the Polish born composer and violinist, Grazyna Bacewicz (born on the 5th February 1909 – 17 January 1969).
She is the second Polish female composer to have achieved national and international recognition, the first being Maria Szymanowska in the early 19th century.
It was followed by 5 preludes op.16 by Scriabin played with a little assistance from a discreet I-Pad and acted as an interlude between the two major works on the programme
They were a fitting introduction to the astonishing pyrotechnics of Rachmaninoff’s 2nd Sonata.
If it missed the subtle multi coloured introspection of the quieter moments due to a rather rigid style where the actual sounds did not always correspond to his physical hand movements.
Piano playing can be likened to a great sculptor but carving sounds out of thin air.
I had just come from a recital by Volodos where the beauty of his hand movements corresponded so well to the beauty of the sounds he made https://christopheraxworthymusiccommentary.wordpress.com/2020/02/04/3822/
But Pontus more than made up for this with his musicianly architectural control allied to a passionate involvement and transcendental technical command
that kept a distinguished audience of piano connoisseurs mesmerised as they were too for the Stenhammer that opened the concert.
A very fine inquisitive musician who already he tells me has quite a distinguished career in Sweden and was happy to offer the Keyboard Charitable Trust a small sample of his adventurous programming.
It was followed by a musicianly account of Beethoven’s visionary Bagatelle op 126 n.3 where Beethoven’s final long pedal was understood and conveyed so convincingly.