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14.2.15

Ionarts-at-Large: Bezuidenhout @ Mozart-Woche, Salzburg


available at Amazon
W.A.Mozart, Keyboard Works v.1,
K.Bezuidenhout
Harmonia Mundi



available at Amazon
W.A.Mozart, Keyboard Works v.3,
K.Bezuidenhout
Harmonia Mundi



available at Amazon
W.A.Mozart, Keyboard Works v.5, 6,
K.Bezuidenhout
Harmonia Mundi



available at Amazon
W.A.Mozart, Keyboard Works v.7,
K.Bezuidenhout
Harmonia Mundi

There are several (wrong) places to accidentally show up at a concert in beautiful Salzburg before getting it right. Let’s assume, hypothetically, that instinctively you showed up for the Kristian Bezuidenhout fortepiano recital (Mozart-Woche) at the Mozarteum Great Hall. But the place is empty You catch a nervous glimpse of the poster that points you in the direction of the Large University Auditorium. So you make your way through the Mirabell Garden to the Mozarteum University’s concrete concert hall cube, the “Solitär”. Wrong again! Wrong university, for starters. A friendly hint and a silent curse later (let’s continue to assume), you haste across the “Makartsteg” pedestrian bridge, through the passageways between and beneath the historic houses, popping out at the University Square, crossing into the Furtwängler Park, and this time be right at the bloody auditorium at last, with its raked stage and comfortable acoustics.*

Thank goodness Salzburg is small and swiftly traversed by foot and one can hit all of these potential venues and still show up in time for K.282 being gently trickled out of the Robert Braun copy of a Walter fortepiano by Bezuidenhout whose pianism in general – and within the niche of historically informed performance certainly – yields to no one. Delicate, never emaciating, he allowed the differences and advantages of the instrument to the modern grand piano come out while providing no cause to bemoan the absence of the latter (one of which stood just 10 feet behind him).

Bezuidenhout’s playing is, in short, beautiful to the point of immaculate and even an early and slighter sonata like K.282 becomes a thing of faint Mozartean wonder on a sunny day in snow-covered Salzburg. At the same time he is not one to get stuck at mere beauty and never—that I’ve heard him—prone to make Mozart sound facile. Lively wit, so much more readily at hand with a fortepiano and its quicksilver, pebbly short notes, came to the fore plenty in the subsequent movements. Really, the worst that can be said about Kristian Bezuidenhout as a pianist is that he’s got a big schnozzle.

While listening to the skilled fortepianist on a superior instrument, the famous Sonata K.330 – naturally performed faster on a fortepiano– is recalled by the brain as lumbering in comparison when played on the grand piano. (Listen to the very best interpreters and it turns out not to be the case, but that’s not the point.) With his plucky attack and translucent lyrical side, Bezuidenhout gave of his best. The last movement particularly brought out the rambunctious, the wilful side of Mozart – who combines angelic beauty with jibes against the expected norms with artless ease. Certain notes of his are such as though they could definitely only be played with the third finger.

The late sonatas in D major and B-flat majors K.576 and 570 equally embodied these qualities and furthered the impression of the fortepiano, well-built and well-played, is a fine thing, really. The fact that its slighter tone forces the audience in a relatively big hall such as the auditorium to strain its ears is, if anything, a benefit. The audience was treated, if memory serves right, to the Andante of K.545 as an encore, a movement that surprises with that slight twang of chromaticism (especially when the temperament isn’t entirely equal) just when you don’t expect it amid the lullaby-esque beauty. Whichever encore it was, it happened to be the same that Mitsuko Uchida played in her AM-recital earlier that day.


* The beautifully renovated auditorium – modern on the outside, historic on the inside; gutted and fitted with raked seating to seat 624 audience members. Only the view of the wall that is the de-facto back of the stage is ugly, with scuff marks, a fire door, and 12 now off-white power outlets (sockets?) glaring at the audience.
 



1 comment:

Patrick said...

Your blog brings to our attention much of interest, and this entry on Mr. Bezuidenhout and his fortepiano performances was quite welcome. I look forward to listening to his CDs. The only problem is when I go back to performances on a modern piano, I think "Thats all wrong!', it is not at all what WAM had in mind.
btw, the movie Mr. Turner includes a scene in which the slow mvmt. of the Beethoven Pathetique is performed on a fortepiano.