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! 2017 BBC Proms from Friday 14 July – Saturday 9 September __________________________________
  • NEW! Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich Announces Details of New Season 2017/2018 __________________________________
  • NEW! Grange Park Opera’s 2017 Season in its New Opera House __________________________________
  • NEW! The Royal Opera House Announces its 2017/18 Season __________________________________
  • NEW! In 2017 The Three Choirs Festival is from 22 to 29 July __________________________________
  • NEW! Glyndebourne Festival 2017: At Glyndebourne, At the Cinema and On Tour __________________________________
  • NEW! The Cleveland Orchestra in 2017-18 __________________________________
  • NEW! Bampton Classical Opera in 2017 features Salieri’s The School of Jealousy __________________________________
  • NEW! Leeds Lieder Announces Seventh Festival of Song for April __________________________________
  • NEW! Zurich Opera Announces its 2017/2018 Season __________________________________
  • NEW! English National Ballet’s 2017 – 2018 Autumn/Winter Season __________________________________
  • NEW! General Booking is Now Open for Longborough Festival Opera 2017 __________________________________
  • NEW! 2017 Lucerne Summer Festival __________________________________
  • NEW! Classical Music at London’s Southbank Centre in 2017-18 __________________________________
  • Subscribe to Review Summary Newsletter

    Reviews by Reviewer

    News and Featured Articles

    __________________________________
  • NEW! IN MEMORIAM LOUIS FRÉMAUX (1921-2017) __________________________________
  • NEW! Robert Farr reports on the 26th Annual Singing Competition Final – Elizabeth Harwood Memorial Award for Singers __________________________________
  • UPDATED IN MEMORIAM NICOLAI GEDDA (1925-2017) __________________________________
  • 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