Recital • Mullova & Bezuidenhout
J.S.Bach, Sonatas & Partitas,
W.G.Mozart, Keyboard Music vol.2,
Alas, it wasn’t to be. Performing Beethoven’s fourth and third sonatas, opp.23 and 12/3, in the first half, the feeling was one of befuddlement. Either I was missing something crucial, or it really was only a so-so performance. Exaggeratedly shortened phrases purposely, intriguingly matched the quick decay Bezuidenhout’s 1820’s Conrad Graf fortepiano, but sounded awfully harsh, with a dull edge. With Mullova’s instrument’s tangy and dark tone—squeezed and boxy in the frantically fast first movement of op.12/3—all three Beethoven sonatas were utterly de-sentimentalized, which might have been interesting but was marred by pitch and intonation problems, most of it on the considerably flat side.
Bezuidenhout, sensitive and witty, tickled wonderful facets of the music out of his instrument: here a phrase in a new light, there a quick melody one isn’t used to hearing like that. If true joy never settled in—despite a very considerably improved Kreutzer Sonata (op.47) in the second half—it wasn’t his fault. The way he played a virtual duet with her pizzicatos and his trills was a brief moment of utter delight. Just not enough in a program that felt like Mullova and Bezuidenhout are still at the very beginning of their partnership in exploring Beethoven.