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! Opera and More in Buenos Aires in 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! Gloucester Choral Society’s Hubert Parry’s Centenary Celebrations in May 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! Ex Cathedra at St John’s Smith Square’s 2017 Christmas Festival __________________________________
  • NEW! Spend a Penny for Grange Park Opera’s Lavatorium Rotundum __________________________________
  • NEW! Bampton Classical Opera in 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! The 2018 Lucerne Summer Festival __________________________________
  • NEW! World Premiere of The Nutcracker and I, by Alexandra Dariescu in December at Milton Court __________________________________
  • NEW! Leeds Lieder’s Forthcoming Schubert Song Series in Leeds and Sheffield __________________________________
  • UPDATED! English National Ballet’s 2017 – 2018 Season __________________________________
  • NEW! Contemporary Music from Manchester’s Psappha in 2017-18 __________________________________
  • NEW! I Musicanti’s ‘Alexandra and the Russians’ at St Johns Smith Square, 2017-18 __________________________________
  • NEW! Anna Netrebko and Yusif Eyvazov’s Return to London in May 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! St John’s Smith Square announces its 2017/18 Season __________________________________
  • NEW! The Pierre Boulez Saal’s 2017/18 Season in Berlin __________________________________
  • UPDATED! The Glyndebourne Opera Cup and Glyndebourne in 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra’s 2017/18 Season __________________________________
  • UPDATED! English National Opera’s 2017/18 Season __________________________________
  • Subscribe to Review Summary Newsletter

    Reviews by Reviewer

    News and Featured Articles

    __________________________________
  • NEW! Dénes Várjon Talks to Sebastian Smallshaw About Budapest’s Kamara.hu __________________________________
  • R.I.P. IN MEMORIAM – DMITRI HVOROSTOVSKY (1962-2017) __________________________________
  • NEW! Ann Murray’s Masterclass at the V&A Part of Opera: Passion, Power and Politics __________________________________
  • NEW! Carly Paoli is ‘Singing My Dreams’ at the Cadogan Hall in February 2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! A Composer Speaks Up for the Environment: An Interview with Margaret Brouwer __________________________________
  • NEW! Twelve Years of Celebrating Malcolm Arnold in Northampton __________________________________
  • NEW! What is the Critic’s Job? A Review of A. O. Scott’s Recent Book __________________________________
  • NEW! English Music Festival in Yorkshire Lifts the Lid Off an English Treasury __________________________________
  • NEW! A FULLY STAGED PILGRIM’S PROGRESS IN ORLEANS, MA __________________________________
  • NEW! JIŘÍ BĔLOHLÁVEK (1946-2017) AND THE CZECH CONDUCTING LEGACY __________________________________
  • NEW! JUSTIN DOYLE DISCUSSES MONTEVERDI WITH MARK BERRY __________________________________
  • NEW! Katie Lowe Wins the 2017 Elizabeth Connell Prize __________________________________
  • NEW! ITINÉRAIRE BAROQUE 2017: TON KOOPMAN TALKS TO COLIN CLARKE __________________________________
  • NEW! The Royal Opera House in Mumbai is Restored to its Former Glory __________________________________
  • Archives by Week

    Archives by Month

    Search S&H