Tuesday 28 June 3.00 pm
The Prince of the piano descends on St Mary’s with a masterly display of playing of breathtaking scope and aristocratic intelligence.
I had heard Daniel play the Emperor concerto at the Barbican recently and had written an article of appreciation entitled :’Emperor for a night’:https://christopheraxworthymusiccommentary.com/2021/12/29/daniel-lebhardt-emperor-for-the-night/
Beethoven: Sonata Op 54 in F
In Tempo d’un Menuetto – Allegretto
But today listening to such burning intensity and contrasting beauty I was reminded of Joan Chissell ‘s review of Artur Rubinstein in the 70’s …..’The Prince of pianists’ was the title and she went on to say that Mr Rubinstein had turned baubles into gems……..referring to ‘O prol do bebè’ suite by his friend Villa Lobos.
I cannot say that Daniel did that because he played a programme of master works which he nurtured,caressed,savaged and seduced in a programme where Beethoven’s much neglected op 54 Sonata was played ‘quasi una fantasia’ that I had not been aware of until today as maybe even Beethoven had not realised with what fantasy he had imbued this two movement sonata.
But there we were today with a sonata of such fantasy and kaleidoscopic sense of colour and chameleonic sense of character that it took Daniel today to reveal it’s true character .
The capricious opening motif that erupts all through a movement that is rudely interrupted by Beethovens irascible temperament was followed by a perpetuum mobile ‘Allegretto’ that Daniel ignited with a rhythmic energy that was breathtaking .
It was by no means the poor bed fellow of the ‘Appassionata’which also received a performance where Beethoven’s markings had been remarkably reproduced but above all the temperament behind the notes had been hypnotically characterised with a rhythmic intensity that I have only heard the like from Serkin.
I had bumped into Daniel after the recital of Giordano Buondonno in Perivale ……https://christopheraxworthymusiccommentary.com/2022/06/20/giordano-buondonno-crystalline-clarity-and-mastery-at-st-marys/. He had come to try the piano a week before his concert.In fact as Curzon famously said a great pianist is 90 % work and 10% talent.
That 10% is God given and God has been very generous to Daniel as he was with Curzon.
Schumann: Toccata in C Op 7
A quite extraordinary performance of Schumann’s Toccata in which his sense of legato was more astonishing than his transcendental control of the obstacles that Schumann throws into the path of pianists who dare attempt the technical hurdles that abound in this early work.Suddenly one was aware of the wonderful romantic harmonies and overall architectural shape before even contemplating the technical mastery that could allow this to happen.
Beethoven: Sonata in F minor Op 57 ‘Appassionata’
Allegro assai / Andante con moto / Allegro ma non troppo
The ‘Appassionata’in which Beethovens indications were scrupulously observed.Even the seemingly awkward arpeggios were played with the struggle that Beethoven intended and not simplified into a pianistic juggling act !
Extraordinary to watch Daniel’s cat like movements ready to pounce with his body in continual almost imperceptible motion depending on which way the music was to unfold.It was the same cat like movements of Peter Frankl with the Kelemen Quartet playing in the Liszt Academy in Budapest last winter.One was aware of music making of the ‘old school’ the one that listens to every sound and is ready to respond in a musical conversation that is a continual voyage of discovery. https://christopheraxworthymusiccommentary.com/2021/11/27/peter-the-great-peter-frankl-with-the-kelemen-quartet-in-budapest/
Daniel is a graduate of the Liszt Academy so could it be that the genial tentacles of Liszt are still very much in the air?
Schubert: Drei Klavierstucke D 946
(1 in E flat minor, 2 in E flat major, 3 in C major)
A very long programme that Schnabel would have boasted that the difference between his programmes and those of his colleagues was that his were a hundred per cent boring.
So after Beethoven op 54 and 57 a Schumann Toccata as light relief we were rewarded with Schubert’s Drei Klavierstucke played with a sense of style and subtle beauty that rather than being an over zealous intellectual enterprise was a ray of wonder where such beauty could quite happily have lasted even longer.
Now as I am struggling with internet in the depths of the Italian countryside I am happy to add my first impressions having been able to listen to the recital in sporadic moments where the air waves had taken second place to the the glorious waves of the Mediterranean.
I had a feeling that even Daniel had enjoyed the experience of sharing these masterworks with such a discerning audience and that he would gladly have added a minute or two more to it.
Dr Mather being our genial host but also referee had realised that we had gone into overtime .. ………..and so a return match is inevitable and awaited with great joy.
In 2014 Daniel Lebhardt won 1st Prize at the Young Concert Artists International auditions in Paris and New York. A year later he was invited to record music by Bartók for Decca and in 2016 won the “Geoffrey Tozer Most Promising Pianist” prize at the Sydney International Competition. In 2018 he has been signed for commercial management by Askonas Holt. March 2020 saw Daniel make his debut with The Hallé, performing Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No 5 – a work he has also performed at the Barbican, London and Symphony Hall, Birmingham. The last two concert seasons have also witnessed recital debuts in Dublin and Kiev, and at the Lucerne International, Tallinn International and Miami International Piano festivals. He has received reinvitations to Wigmore Hall, London, the Auditorium du Louvre, Paris and Merkin Concert Hall in New York (‘He brought narrative sweep and youthful abandon to [Liszt’s B minor Sonata], along with power, poetry and formidable technique’ – The New York Times). Other recent highlights include a return to Paris for a recital at L’Église Saint-Germain-des-Près, as part of the festival ‘Un week-end à l’Est’; an appearance as soloist in Mozart’s Piano Concerto No 21 at the Royal Festival Hall, London; and tours in China, South America and the USA. Born in Hungary, Daniel studied at the Franz Liszt Academy in Budapest with István Gulyás and Gyöngyi Keveházi, then with Pascal Nemirovski at the Royal Academy of Music and Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. He was a prizewinner at the Young Classical Artists Trust auditions in 2015 and currently lives in Birmingham.