At his recital in Davies Hall tonight, Leif Ove Andsnes took the microphone
to explain the ground rules: "If these pieces just stop, please don't
think that I forgot the music."
There were some puzzled snickers, but when D.900, D.346, and D.348
concluded, sort of, the laughter was knowing... and warm.
Andsnes program includes the three "Unfinished Pieces," two Allegrettos
and an Andantino, and wonderful that they are, they do just stop,
mid-phrase. Kudos to Andsnes for playing them and for not "fixing them
up" - no Alfano he.
Looking around the hall, almost all of its 2,800 seats occupied, one
remembers the time when Ruth Felt brought Andsnes to San Francisco
Performances for the first time, and 928-seat Herbst Theater was far
from full. It's not that the pianist "improved" that much, but rather
the city - and the world - has come to see the light. Andsnes is one
of the most consistently excellent musicians around.
Tonight's recital of the Schubert fragments, Schumann's Four Piano Pieces,
Op. 32, Beethoven's Sonata No. 31, and the Mussorgsky "Pictures at an
Exhibition" showed Andsnes' fabulous range, absolute control of material
- without the slightest hint of rigidity. In all, clean, beautiful notes
stood by themselves and in vital, exhilarating context. Sitting close
and above the piano, I also heard for the first time, marvelous overtones,
vastly enriching the music. The man is a magician.
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