reviewed by Neville Cohn
In his recital on Wednesday, visiting American pianist Edward Eikner paid tribute to Mozart in the first half of his program – and offered an all-Spanish second half.
It was a recital of sometimes disconcertingly varying standards with moments of insight cheek by jowl with episodes that left a good deal to be desired.
Mozart’s much-loved Sonata in A, K331 was a case in point. The famous rondo alla turca was a splendid offering with agile fingerwork maintaining a blistering pace, the jangling, faux-Turkish Jamissary flavour of the writing altogether convincing. But in the concluding variation of the first movement, tone sounded hard and strident. In the minuet, the playing was sadly below par with clattering clusters of wrong notes and little evidence of the elegant stateliness that lies at the heart of the writing. And in the exquisite slow movement from K330, one listened in vain for a revelation of its interior mood of grave dignity.
The first six of Granadas’ Spanish Dances, some reservations aside, provided very much more satisfying listening, especially Rondalla Aragonesa with its pleasing tonal colourings and tempo nuances which, no pun intended, struck exactly the right note. No 3 in D, too, was presented with bracing attack and follow-through. Villanesca was altogether persuasive. With its repeated figurations, there is always the risk of tedium setting in – but in Eikner’s hands, interest was maintained throughout in this buoyant, clear-toned offering.
But tone tended to edginess in the outer sections of Oriental – and in Andaluza, that most famous of the collection of dances, notes cried out for reflective, lyrical treatment. Certainly, the direction that the pianist play dolce in both pieces was quite overlooked as was the need to play cantabile in the poco andante section of the first of the set. Falla’s celebrated Fire Dance was despatched in noisily energetic fashion.
Copyright 2006 Neville Cohn