Elisabeth Leonskaya at the Wigmore Hall. True Queen of the keyboard

A regal bearing of someone who with simplicity and humility is there to serve music and convey this message in an immediate way.
It is as if discovering the wonders that she is producing for the first time.
A burning intensity and luminosity of sound that could turn the Wigmore piano into a wondrous Bosendorfer such was the sumptuous bass sonorities she could draw from the instrument before her as if by magic.
It was not ,though ,the regal presence of a Bachauer or Tureck -she is no High Priestess-but the presence of a Nikolaeva or a Virsaladze just born with music so naturally at their very roots.Where a farmer might toil on the land to bring wondrous things to fruit so they on the keyboard bring to us the same heavenly miracle of life.

Straight down to the important work of making music with no fiddling with the stool or waiting for the moment of concentration.From the first deep notes of the Mozart Fantasia in C minor she held us enthralled as she proceeded to enact this drama ,and show us the operatic characters that inhabit it ,as she allowed the music to speak in such an immediate way.
This was Mozart on a grand operatic scale.
Even the slow movement of the C minor sonata had much of the richness that she was to find in parts of the Brahms Andante in his Sonata op 5.
If the Allegro assai of the Mozart sonata seemed surprisingly underplayed it was because it made the passionate outbursts even more astonishing.

The Schoenberg Suite op 25 showed off her intellectual prowess as she shared his infernal mathematical meanderings with an authority and driving energy.
Even here she found magical colours and contrasts that made this intellectual exercise jump off the page into an architectural shape every bit as gripping as her Mozart.

It was composed between 1921 and 1923 and is the earliest work in which Schoenberg employs a row of “12 tones related only to one another” The basic tone row of the suite consists of the following pitches: E–F–G–D♭–G♭–E♭–A♭–D–B–C–A–B♭.In form and style, the work echoes many features of the Baroque Suite .There are six movements:Praludium,Gavotte,Musette,Intermezzo,Menuet,Gigue.The Gavotte contains, “a parody of a baroque keyboard suite that involves the cryptogram of Bach’s name (B flat,A,C, B natural – BACH in German nomenclature) as an important harmonic and melodic device and a related quotation of Schoenberg’s Six little pieces op 19

Schoenberg the score in hand -no page turner even that had been meticulously organised.

But it was the Brahms F minor sonata that received a fearlessly majestic performance turning this black box of hammers and strings into the Philadelphia orchestra.
The opening founded on enormous bass sonorities that allowed her such freedom to find sounds that could ravish and seduce.An Andante of such sublime beauty that time seemed to stand still until the coda where she unleashed a passion of burning intensity that erupted into the rhythmic drive she gave to the scherzo.
She struck fear into our hearts with the extraordinary intermezzo that depicts both desolation and menace.
A finale that seemed so innocent and innocuous with the miraculous whispered appearance of the chorale that was to explode into a coda of burning passion with astonishing sonorities of transcendental virtuosity and control.
Fireworks indeed.
And it is exactly what we got as an encore with Debussy’s depiction never before sounding so vivid where even the hint of the Marseilles seemed more menacing in her hands than ever before.
A scintillating last movement from the Mozart sonata K576 in D major was a second encore to a demanding insatiable audience.



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