Classical: When Silence Is the Perfect Note ; LARS VOGT QUEEN ELIZABETH HALL LONDON

Article excerpt

ON THE face of it, the music Lars Vogt chose for his South Bank recital was oddly assorted, almost random. His very personal programme notes began to persuade one that he had his reasons.

His performance entirely justified his choices, even though the Brahms F sharp minor Sonata, Op 2 - the composer's earliest published sonata - is a strangely rambling work. Its textures, characteristically, strain at the extremes of the keyboard, and with the hands often kept far apart, yield gruff, unbecoming sounds. Yet much of its invention is less than fully distinctive, the best coming in the scherzo, alternately secretive and bold, and the finale, whose unresolved nature Vogt describes as an exceptional achievement. His playing, smouldering yet restrained, as if he were clenching his teeth with suppressed rage, made the most of Brahms's Sturm und Drang without pushing it in our faces, but yielded also to the warmth of the finale's main theme.

Before Brahms, and worlds apart, Vogt gave the most compelling account I can recall of Janacek's final piano work, In the Mists. Written in 1912, three of the four movements have the unpredictability but inevitable rightness of some of the music Debussy was writing at about that time. …