22 September 2013

Denis Kozhukin, le sérieux

What a serious concert! What a serious pianist!

Denis Kozhukhin won the very serious Queen Elizabeth competition in 2010,  over another wonderful Russian pianist Yuri Favorin, all the more serious too. This year he came touring his Prokofieff disc, the last three sonatas, and he gave an incredible concert at Southbank. It was not the lighther program ever. Tonight, the program was vast, deep, tense, dense and a little bit funny. Yes, funny, but no banter: just some smiles and some grins.

Because Kozhukhin is not a joker, he had to think about how to sell the very serious bits of his program to the electric audience of sleeping beauties and sleeping non beauties.
The first part of the concert was some kind of sandwich, starting with smiles (Haydn’s Sonata in F Major HB 16/23), contemplation (Franck's Prelude Chorale et Fugue) and then some kind of acknowledgement that there are hits in classical music (Schubert’s Four Impromptus, op.90).  Intermission, and second part: Bach was drunk? No, Hindemith's third sonata, and then Brahms 7 fantasies (op.116), the 7 deadly sins. Then three encores: sgambatti, bach and scriabine. Wow, hilarious!

Kozhukhin is smart, is talented, he has beautiful colours, but he's not really fun. He does beauty, but he does not laugh really, he does not burst, he does not get angry. Everything is contained, always beautiful, but sometimes, you would like him to get to the extremes.

That being said, I can't complain about anything, the concert was splendid, and lots of ideas (Hindemith's use of diatonality and tonality is extremely interesting for instance). Highlight of the night, Brahms' fantasias. Brahms was probably the composer Kozhukhin was the most connected with tonight, it seemed so natural to him, while Haydn missed so outbursts.

Anyway, again a beautiful concert at Wigmore Hall,

Sleep tight readers!

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