Magazine article Gramophone

Young Pianists: Bryce Morrison Listens to a Handful of Young Artists Making Their Recorded Debuts in Music Ranging from Bach to Rachmaninov

Magazine article Gramophone

Young Pianists: Bryce Morrison Listens to a Handful of Young Artists Making Their Recorded Debuts in Music Ranging from Bach to Rachmaninov

Article excerpt

Here on five CDs are examples of rising stars, a young generation prompting several token observations. The overall standard is too high to think competitively and yet I have to say that pride of place goes to Sodi Braide, Paris-trained but of Nigerian background. Schubert has become his ultimate joy, a magically evolving presence in his life, reflected in performances of such familiar fare as the D899 Impromptus and the B flat Sonata, D960. Here, without recourse to idiosyncrasy or preening mannerism, everything is made movingly unfamiliar, and this is particularly true of what I have called the 'Hamlet' of sonatas, music of subtle and infinite musical demands. Braide's strong but unforced eloquence and integrity exceed the playing of many other celebrated ('celebrity') names. Always he allows Schubert his own unimpeded voice. The performances of the Impromptus are of similar calibre. Braide was born to play Schubert and, I suspect, much else besides.

Now we turn to Chopin's 27 Etudes, that cruelly exposed Parnassus of the repertoire. In Irina Bogdanova you hear a pianist of daunting proficiency, able to play all the notes impressively (no mean feat in such demanding fare). But crossing the Rubicon from pragmatism to poetry is always an elusive challenge and what I missed was an acute, less generalised response, particularly in the slow etudes where the test becomes more richly varied and less exclusive than elsewhere. I doubt whether Chopin would have cried out, 'Ah, mon patrie!' after hearing Bogdanova in Op 10 No 3. You may be happy to miss, for example, the circus element that mars Cziffra's scorching bravura accounts; but on the other hand too little 'takes wing' (Philippe Entrement on Cortot). More positively, Bogdanova is at her most poised in the Trois Nouvelles Etudes, though even here her way with the A flat study (placed third) would hardly have prompted Liszt to be lost in wonder at Chopin's ineffable poetry.

Then there is Audrey Vigoureux in Bach and Beethoven who, according to the booklet-note, shows 'a solar interiority, a refined violence, an implacable and supple drive; an earthly mysticism, a fleshy limpidity; raging crystal'. More intelligibly, her playing is brisk and coolheaded. Fleet and dexterous, she suggests 'time's winged chariot hurrying near' (I imagine Martha Argerich is among her favourites), but the rapidity of her responses means that in both Beethoven's Op 27 No 1 and Op 110 sonatas she fails to generate sufficient stature or intensity. …

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