Etudes That Dance, From Debussy Forward

12/02/2013

  Debussy, Carter, Busoni, Birtwistle: Nicolas Hodges (piano), Zankel Hall, New York City. 21.1.2013 (BH)

Debussy: Etudes, Book I (1915)
Carter: Two Thoughts About the Piano (2007): “Intermittences” (2005), “Caténaires” (2006)
Busoni: Giga, bolero e variazione (after Mozart) from An die Jugend, Book III (1909)
Birtwistle: Gigue Machine (2012, US premiere)
Debussy: Etudes, Book II (1915)

This elegant recital at Zankel Hall by British pianist Nicolas Hodges sandwiched relative rarities in between Debussy’s daunting books of Etudes. Elliott Carter’s “Intermittences” and “Caténaires” (premiered by Peter Serkin and Pierre-Laurent Aimard, respectively) are typical of his late style: light, deftly imagined and demanding—and show the composer’s mind at its most mercurial. Hodges seemed completely at home here, dashing through “Intermittences” with the measured ear of someone who loves the composer, and after only the briefest of pauses, giving “Caténaires” the encore-quality flash it deserves.

Busoni’s short Giga, bolero e variazione (after Mozart) showed Hodges’s eloquence with the composer’s complexity—which can be formidable, but here is blended with Mozartean grace and a sense of perpetual motion. Likewise, Sir Harrison Birtwistle’s Gigue Machine, with its light textures and rhythmic invention made a strong impression, its dance lines converging and diverging with suppleness, before its abrupt, quiet ending.

In the two Debussy bookends, to my ears the second set fared slightly better, starting with the pianist’s commanding fingerwork in “Pour les degrés chromatiques,” and later, his ringing accuracy in “Pour les notes répétées” with its intriguing echo effect. But he also found exquisite tension in “Pour les octaves,” between stillness and hyperactivity, and adopted just the right tone of detached bemusement for the initial “Pour les cinq doigts—d’apres Monsieur Czerny.”

Bruce Hodges

 

Print Friendly

Comments

Comments are closed.

Recent Reviews

Facebook-button-1

Season Previews

__________________________________
  • NEW! Classical Music at London’s Southbank Centre in 2017-18 __________________________________
  • NEW! Classical Music in 2017-18 at London’s Barbican __________________________________
  • NEW! 2017 50th Blossom Music Festival season in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio __________________________________
  • NEW! The Carnegie Hall 2017-2018 Season __________________________________
  • NEW! Preview of the LA Opera 2017/18 Season __________________________________
  • NEW! Grange Park Opera’s 2017 Season in its New Opera House __________________________________
  • NEW! Garsington Opera’s Extended 2017 Season __________________________________
  • NEW! The 2017-18 Barbican Classical Music Season __________________________________
  • NEW! Symphonic Soundscapes: Cadogan Hall and RPO Announce Exclusive Collaboration with Digital App Octava __________________________________
  • NEW! The 2017 Aldeburgh Festival is from 9 to 25 June __________________________________
  • NEW! The Grange Festival’s First Season in June and July 2017 __________________________________
  • Subscribe to Review Summary Newsletter

    Reviews by Reviewer

    News and Featured Articles

    __________________________________
  • NEW! Culture and the Coast: Garsington’s Opera for All and the new Coastal Culture Network __________________________________
  • NEW! BARITONE MICHAEL VOLLE IN CONVERSATION WITH MICHAEL COOKSON __________________________________
  • NEW! PIANIST ALEXANDER KARPEYEV IN CONVERSATION WITH ROBERT BEATTIE __________________________________
  • NEW! HOW TO CONTACT SEEN AND HEARD INTERNATIONAL __________________________________
  • NEW! Reviews of Opera in Mumbai: A Gala and La Bohème Revisited __________________________________
  • NEW! FIVE YOUNG SINGERS JOIN THE JETTE PARKER YOUNG ARTISTS FOR 2017 __________________________________
  • NEW! THE SOPRANO ELISABETH MEISTER: FIGHTING BACK FROM WHAT LIFE THROWS AT YOU AND INSPIRING OTHERS __________________________________
  • NEW! REVIEWERS OF SEEN AND HEARD INTERNATIONAL PICK THEIR BEST OF 2016 __________________________________
  • NEW! The Mastersingers Celebrate Wagner Past and Present with the Rehearsal Orchestra __________________________________
  • Archives by Week

    Archives by Month

    Search S&H