Tuesday 22 March 3.00 pm
Haydn: Sonata in D Hob. XVI:33
Allegro / Adagio / Minuet
Brahms: 3 Intermezzi Op 117
no 1 in E flat
no 2 in B flat minor
no 3 in C sharp minor
Schumann: Carnaval Op 9
As Hugh Mather suggested could it be her ‘interesting state’ as we say in Italy that gave such authority and weight to Caterina Grewe’s playing today.
After an hour of sumptuous playing of Haydn,Brahms and Schumann she still had the energy to pour out her soul in a passionate performance of the Liszt transcription of Schubert’s Aufenthalt from Schwanengesang.
A Haydn Sonata in D inexplicably rarely heard in the concert hall was given a performance of such charm and courtly dignity.A delicacy together with a rhythmic energy where ornaments just glittered like jewels from her spring like fingers.But there was above all the sublime chiselled beauty of the Adagio where her limpet type fingers squeezed out of each note such velvet sounds and luminosity that I have only heard from that other great woman pianist Gina Bachauer.The final Minuet and variations entered without a break with poise and lilt as the variations unfolded with such mellifluous tranquility.
Three Brahms Intermezzi op 117 were played with such aristocratic poise and emotion where the simplicity and beauty that poured from Brahms’s pen late in life were simply illuminated and allowed to speak for themselves.The first with a simplicity and beauty but with a forward movement like floating on a gentle wave that carried us forward into a magic land spread over the entire Keyboard.Such ravishing sounds where even the last chord shone like a bright wondrous star.There was such clarity in the sparsely pedalled florid opening of the B flat minor Intermezzo which contrasted so well with the sumptuous sonority of the middle episode.A solidity mixed with beauty in the last C sharp minor Intermezzo played with an aristocratic sense of style of such control and deep inner feeling of bitter sweet nostalgia and deep lament.
Caterina had me searching amongst my vinyl records that I am loathe to throw away as they meant so much to me in my formative years as a student.
I still remember the magic of this Schumann recording that came over with such magic on the record of Guiomar Novaes.Turnabout recordings were 50p each and included so many wonderful performances from Brendel’s early Liszt B minor sonata and Norma paraphrase to his complete Beethoven through to many rare recordings of the magnificent Neapolitan recluse Sergio Fiorentino etc. How lucky to be brought up to hear works for the first time in such performances that have now gone down in history.
I was reminded fifty years on of the recording of Novaes as Caterina played with the same simplicity and aristocratic bearing that excluded any fussy nuances that have attached themselves through tradition.This was purity and clarity where Schumann’s masterpiece was once more placed on the pinnacle where it truly belongs.
Each of the characters in Schumann’s Carnaval were brought vividly to life from the majestic opening fanfare of Florestan mixed with the charm of Eusebius.It was interesting to see the presto rinforzando played with one pointed finger as it ended this introduction and also the finale with such a noble flourish.Pierrot was almost as startling as Mussorgsky’s Gnomus leading to the delicate quixotic Arlequin or disarming simplicity of Eusebius.The beauty of the Valse noble too where the middle section was played so simply not allowing the counter melody to overpower the musical line as Cortot does ( quite magically actually as only he could).The high jinx of Florestan was only to be teasingly calmed by Coquette and Réplique before the fleeting butterflies and dancing letters took us to the passionate outpouring of Chiarina or the ravishing beauty of Chopin.
Reconnaisance was played with admirable control at a sedate pace that contrasted so well with the duet and beauty of the central episode.There was rhythmic fun and games with Pantalon and Colombine but a coda of ravishing beauty and impish charm.The delightfully sedate Valse Allemande was rudely interrupted by the virtuosistic antics of Paganini with some superbly controlled playing before being shown the door as the Valse was allowed to finish its untainted course.
The sublime beauty of Aveu was played with such inward passion and led to the final promenade and the triumphant March of Davidsbundler against the Philistines!Some quite superb playing with not a note out of place in a performance of extraordinary architectural and emotional understanding.
Caterina was indeed blessed today as we hope she will be in the near future with a child born on wings of song.
German-Japanese Pianist Caterina Grewe, born in Tokyo, has performed to great critical acclaim throughout the world as a Steinway Artist. Her recitals have been broadcasted by the BBC, the NDR in Hamburg, France Musique, Sky TV and ZDF in Germany. She has won numerous prizes at world-renowned piano competitions such as the Maria Canals International Piano Competition in Barcelona, the Dublin International Piano Competition, Lagny-Sur-Marne International Piano Competition in Paris, Norah Sande Award in Eastbourne, Mayenne International Piano Competition in France, Lyon International Piano Competition and Rhodes International Piano Competition in Greece. She studied at the Hamburg Conservatory, the Chetham’s School of Music and completed her studies at the Royal College of Music in 2013 where she graduated with distinction. During her time there, Caterina was awarded the Kendal Taylor Beethoven Piano Prize as well as the HRH Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother Rose Bowl by the Prince of Wales. She is now a Piano Professor at the Royal College of Music and the Purcell School in London