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! Investec Opera Holland Park’s Casts for the 2017 Season __________________________________
  • NEW! I Musicanti and Virtuoso Double Bassist Leon Bosch Perform a Trio of Concerts at St John’s Smith Square __________________________________
  • NEW! Alfie Boe and Katherine Jenkins to Star in Carousel at the London Coliseum __________________________________
  • NEW! Bampton Classical Opera 2017 – Salieri’s The School of Jealousy __________________________________
  • NEW! Veteran Trevor Pinnock to Star in Christmas Early Music Festival in York __________________________________
  • NEW! Grace Bumbry and Xian Zhang Join Jury for Cardiff Singer of the World 2017 __________________________________
  • NEW! Celebrate Christmas 2016 at St John’s Smith Square __________________________________
  • NEW! Upcoming Krenek events in Vienna in the Next Few Months __________________________________
  • NEW! World Premiere Production of Ravi Shankar’s Sukanya to tour UK in 2017 __________________________________
  • NEW! 2016-17 Leeds Lieder Concert Series and Advanced Notice about 2017 Festival __________________________________
  • NEW! Classical Opera announces 2016/17 season __________________________________
  • Subscribe to Review Summary Newsletter

    Reviews by Reviewer

    News and Featured Articles

    __________________________________
  • NEW! The Mastersingers Celebrate Wagner Past and Present with the Rehearsal Orchestra __________________________________
  • NEW! MARTYN BRABBINS IS ENGLISH NATIONAL OPERA’S NEW MUSIC DIRECTOR __________________________________
  • NEW! MONICA HUGGETT IN CONVERSATION WITH GEOFFREY NEWMAN __________________________________
  • NEW! Movers Makers Musicians Mingle Part Two __________________________________
  • NEW! Movers Makers Musicians Mingle Part One __________________________________
  • UPDATED IN MEMORIAM – SIR NEVILLE MARRINER CH, CBE (1924 – 2016) __________________________________
  • NEW! OLIVER MEARS TO JOIN ROYAL OPERA HOUSE AS DIRECTOR OF OPERA __________________________________
  • NEW! ARABELLA STEINBACHER IN CONVERSATION WITH MICHAEL COOKSON __________________________________
  • R.I.P. IN MEMORIAM – JOHAN BOTHA (1965-2016) __________________________________
  • Archives by Week

    Archives by Month

    Search S&H