By Christopher Axworthy. It may have been a short recital by this young German-Iranian pianist but it was enough from the very first notes to realise his intelligent sensitive musicianship.Studying in the class of Norma Fisher as was obvious from his way of thinking from the bass upwards with a sense of architectural shape and spaciousness that is so much part of a real thinking musician.A transcendental control that meant that he could fearlessly conquer the hurdles that Liszt lays before those that dare play his Dante Sonata.
Even the dramatic opening was played with on overall sense of line and architectural shape.A continual sense of forward movement and a sumptuous sense of sound that enveloped the entire sonata and gave it such an overall shape and cohesion.Even the treacherous octave leaps at the end were played with the same sumptuous sound and sense of shape and was not just a technical hurdle but an integral part of the overall conception of a work that can so often appear episodic.There were ravishing sounds in the central episode with a superb sense of balance but always with the feeling of an anchor in the bass.It allowed him freedom and at the same time a sensitivity that was never sentimental or rhetorical.
It was Chopin who described the elusive word ‘rubato’ as flexibility like a tree with the roots firmly in the ground but the branches free to move and sway naturally in the wind.There was great passion and drama too from a young man who is obviously living the drama but there was always a control and sense of line.
His ravishing beauty of sound was in evidence from the very first notes of the recital with the sumptuous chorale prelude by J.S.Bach:’Ich ruf zu dir, Herr Jesu Christ’BWV 639.The serenity and understanding of the magical colouring that Busoni could conjure out of the piano was matched with playing of a fluidity and unforced sound that was memorable.There was a kaleidoscopic range of sounds spread over the entire keyboard in Messiaen ‘s Vingt Regards sur l’Enfant-Jésus IX. Regard de temps (Mystère de la plénitude des temps; le Temps voit naître en lui Celui est éternel…).It was the ideal bridge between the early Haydn Sonata in C minor n.33 Hob XV1.20 and the Liszt Dante Sonata.This early Sonata is often referred to as Haydn’s ‘Appassionata’ with its dynamic contrasts and dramatic intensity and is in fact the first great sonata for the piano.It was played with a sense of style and a luminosity of sound with phrasing of delicacy and beauty.A playful development led to a climax of searing beauty.The Andante con moto was beautifully fluid and sensitively shaped with a constant forward movement .There was a driving rhythmic energy and sense of dance to the Finale Allegro. His sensitivity to the changing harmonies gave great musical shape to the streams of notes of great brilliance that Haydn adds to this remarkable early work.