No composer is more difficult for a pianist than Mozart. It is not that there are so many notes, but the executants requires the humanity to seek out the music’s raw- edged tragic core, yet enough composure to avoid unsettling its courtly elegance.
If there is another pianist around (with one distinguished exception) who can do this with the soul and refinement Tamas Vasary manifested last night in his performance of the B flat Sonata, K333, I’ll eat my hat and my sunglasses, too.
Same template and fastidious phrasing helped preserve the gallant exterior while a dark-toned cantilena and a thousand subtleties of inflexion spoke of every suicidal undercurrent. The menace of the slow movement middle section was terrible – all the more for its outward grace.
Anger over a recalcitrant piano stool marred the first few variations by Brahms on the Handel theme, but Vasary settled down to a reading of uncommon power in which he played every episode for the limits of its feeling and graded the last few variations to explosive climax. The final bell-like pages of the fugue pealed relentlessly on until it seemed the whole world was ringing a paean for the living and the dead.
Five Studies and two Chopin Mazurkas revealed again the poised pianistic magic of Tuesday’s concerto and the same unerring patrician instinct for separating authentic feeling from sentimental attitudinising.
He delivered a Meditation by his teacher and friend, Zoltan Kodaly, with dark attention and made the same composer’s Dances of Marosszek a whirling evocative ritual, digging deep into the atavistic memory and fierce folk feeling.
Unprecedented audience enthusiasm was tribute to a performer of remarkably effective genius.