Nelson Goerner - Wigmore Hall, 4 December 2007
Scarlatti 4 Sonatas Kk.466, Kk.454, Kk.109, Kk.39
Beethoven Piano Sonata No. 31 Op. 110
Brahms Piano Sonata No. 3 in F minor Op. 5
I've been feeling rather piano-deprived recently. There just haven't been that many appealing recitals scheduled in London.
And with the Wigmore Hall only half full for tonight's concert by Nelson Goerner it's hardly fair to accuse promoters of ignoring public demand. It seems that only aging legends have a guaranteed audience in London. But Nelson Goerner deserves to be more widely-appreciated.
As does Domenico Scarlatti, a composer we hear painfully little of. Goerner's thoughtful romantic interpretation crafted the four tiny Scarlatti sonatas into a single slow-quick-slow-coda sweep with intelligence and taste. Highlighting the structural and harmonic idiosyncrasies with dynamic nuances that are beyond the capabilities of a harpsichord performance, he displayed just how staggeringly inventive Scarlatti was.
His Beethoven sonata no 31 advanced with a studied inexorability. Cool but not detached, Goerner's restrained palette lent it a tragic dignity and poise.
There were hints of the exuberance Goerner is capable of in his final Scarlatti sonata. But the full picture only came with the Brahms sonata no 3, written with an uncharacteristic youthful vigour that in Brahms flashed only briefly. Goerner dived in with what amounted to a physical attack on the piano, and drew out the work's violent contrasts fearlessly. But he could draw back into dreamy introspection instantaneously, and with enormous charm. Virtuosity was so modestly deployed, so thoroughly absorbed into the texture of the work, that it was never mere display.
It's rare during a piano recital that I don't drift off at some point, but Goerner's performance was so entirely engaging that I was drawn in to every second. Sequinned-jacket showmanship may put bums on seats, but integrity and musicality will win in the end every time.