Thursday, 16 May 2013

Andrejs Osokins piano recital at Senate House, 15 May 2013

Andrejs Osokins is the latest rising star to give a free lunchtime recital in Chancellor’s Hall at Senate House, University of London.

His programme was of wide-ranging repertoire, and opened with a stylish account of Haydn’s sonata in E minor. The opening Presto was crisp, lyrical and possessed natural warmth of tone, which contrasted well with the soaring cantabile and vocalise he found within the theme of the middle movement Adagio. Throughout it was acutely shaded yet maintained a rather deliberate tempo. The closing Molto vivace combined precision along with an obvious delight in Haydn’s inventive and wit-infused writing.

Schumann’s Romance, op.28 no.2, possessed a richness of tone that was immediately attractive but allowed for nuanced playing within Andrejs’ ever thoughtful approach to the music. Particularly noteworthy was the contribution of his left hand, at first unassuming yet increasingly telling in the dramatic development of the piece, which ultimately scaled sown to leave a lingering and introspective sentiment in the work’s final bars.
Transcriptions can present a challenge to any pianist as the task at hand is both to be faithful to the original whilst exploring its reinterpretation in the imagination of another composer. Liszt’s vision of Schumann’s Widmung found Osokins able to traverse the more intimate world of Schumann and the exuberant excesses that Liszt loaded upon it through the vibrancy of his tonal palette. Liszt’s transcription of Wagner’s ‘Liebestod’ from Tristan und Isolde necessitated a vivid imagination but impressed as much through its precise yet wholly Romantic evocation of the vocal line, which was integrated into the grand schema, itself built up with passion and feeling. In the end the performance did not quite reach the transcending heights of the “höchste Lust” that the wider forces of a full orchestra can achieve, but this does not adversely affect reflection on Andrejs’ accomplished realization which was enlivened still further, as throughout the whole programme, by judicious and timely pedaling.

The opening movement of Prokofiev’s seventh sonata fizzed to life under Andrejs’ keen fingers, with the music’s jocular edge preceding its more jaunty, even brutal face. References back to a Haydnesque classical sensibility met with a sense of unrest and seething disquiet that was portentous of the gathering storm that the movement eventually embodied, complete with ironic grumblings of a uniquely Prokofievian vein. The second movement was stately yet intentionally uneasy in its progress, with an imperiousness of tone found in the near obsessive repetition of notes, before returning with near nostalgia to earlier thematic material. The closing movement found Osokins able to bring out the quasi-demonic anger in Prokofiev’s writing in his relentless percussive attack of the keyboard, which proved all-consuming in its self-possession.

The next Senate House lunchtime concert features the Isis Trio, (Karim Said, piano; Charlotte Bonneton, violin; Jessie Ann Richardson, cello) playing Beethoven and Mendelssohn on Wednesday 19 June 2013, 1-2pm.

Photo credit: Philip Butler