24 March 2022

Across eras

Robert was one of the first classical performers I recorded so he's in my memory.  He hadn;t p.ayed for a while, with interruptions by Covid, but I recorded him again at Wesley.  The theme was three ages, being Bach, Chopin and Bartok.  It was stunning.  From the top I was hugely impressed by his take on Bach, his evenness of the phrasings,  the subtle pauses and big rits at the end of movements, the volume dynamics and long crescendos.  Just lovely and right, to my ears.  But then he played Bartok.  Now, this was different!  20th century, Hungarian with French relationships, 12-tone at times, folk elements at times and a "transparent style" as introduced by Robert, meaning less heavy on harmonics.  Different but easily convincing.  And then the middle era, Chopin, the epitome of romantic music, free of much structure, once described as "the experience of a lifetime".  It was his Ballade no.4 Fmin.  As Robert said, "top of the pops" for piano competitions.  And then a reference to today's horrors with an encore by Ukrainian composer in Russian Romantic style, A dream by Sergei Bortkiewicz.  I've quoted Robert here but not much time was wasted with an impressive program of great variation and considerable length, given available time.  A time of learning from diverse styles and a time of satisfaction with a great performance.

Robert Schmidli (piano) played Bach, Bartok, Chopin and Bortkiewicz at Wesley.

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