People have asked me for my personal (and make no mistake, it *is* going to be very personal) review of the Ivo Pogorelich recital in Nuremberg last Sunday. So here goes!
I walked in when they opened the doors, and as Iâ€™d hoped, he was there at the piano playing, in baggy clothes, red socks (! lol) and a woolly hat. There were hardly any people inside at that time, so I sat down in the second block, not wanting to disturb him, and just watched and listened. He played a few shorter pieces and then a repeating phrase of what was plainly just freestyle practice, a sequence of fifths. I have to say, I enjoyed that immensely - I mean: How often do you witness a master practising?
When the room filled, he disappeared and then came back wearing the traditional tux (suit? I know the word in German, but how do you call the thing pianists wear?). I managed to grab a seat that was much better than the one I'd got a ticket for - 2nd row left, so he was only about 12 feet away and I had a perfect view of his right hand, and the left too at times. Yessssss!
Mozart was first, the Adagio b minor (K540). He played it extremely slowly, but not obnoxiously so. It was also highly unconventional, with liberal use of rubato and some forte that should have been piano according to the sheet music (which I know because Iâ€™m practising this thing right now!). The critics are going to roast him for it, and I don't think the traditionalists amongst ye here in the Pianist Corner would have liked it, either. But it made sense, it was a coherent, highly sensitive interpretation, and achingly beautiful.
Then the Liszt sonata b minor, oh my gods. The whole program was incredible, but this was definitely my highlight. It was ravishing, gorgeous, daring, tempestuous - and once again the slower parts were very slow. He has in the past played annoyingly slowly sometimes, but this was different. It was simply unhurried, deliberately savouring each note. If I've learned anything from him that evening, it's this: There's no hurry.
Then came the break and then Schumannâ€™s Symphonic Etudes. I loved hearing the posthumous variations that Iâ€™d never heard from him before, and comparing the rest of them to his recording from the early 80s. Back then, some of them were played mostly as etudes - with focus on the virtuosity - but this time around, he played it with (even) more musical expression.
People obviously loved it, and yet nobody gave him standing ovations. â€žWhy is nobody standing?â€œ I whispered to a couple in front of me. I got them to stand up with me, and he actually gave us a nod before he announced he was going to play a Liszt for an encore. Which I've been unable to identify, gaaaaah!! It's been driving me nuts all week.
All in all, he is definitely back at the top of his game. I had expected a lot, but he still blew my expectations out of the water. I just wish I could rewind to Sunday evening around 7pm and do it all over.
After all those years of not being to any live concerts or recitals, I had almost forgotten the magic of having him there in front of me, live, playing. No YouTube video could have prepared me for this! I was bowled over. He still does that to me, 31 years later
And I guess he still is my favourite pianist (well, together with Kissin), among the many I adore and admire.
I'm so glad I went, even though it was hard to be on my own afterwards, when that was the time I'd usually have a drink with Eveline and happily dissect every note and talk for hours. But I was right, I couldn't have gone to this particular recital with anyone else. Vienna will be different next month