Simon Trpčeski Returns to Wigmore Hall

United KingdomUnited Kingdom  Schubert, Bach/Liszt, Liszt: Simon Trpčeski (piano). Wigmore Hall, London. 18.3.2012 (CC)

Schubert: 16 German Dances, D783.
Fantasy in C, D760, “Wanderer”.
Bach/Liszt: Prelude and Fugue in A minor, BWV543.
Liszt: Sonettodel Petrarcha No. 104.
Les Jeux d’eaux à la Villa D’Este.
Hungarian Rhapsody in C sharp minor, S244

Back in 2001, my colleague Marc Bridle described Simon Trpčeski’s Wigmore debut with enthusiasm. Much water – and many concerts – has gone under the bridge since then, and Trpčeski has created a major international career for himself. The present recital will be released in the Wigmore Live series on CD (presumably with a small amount of touching up – the occasional note in the Schubert did not speak, for example).

Still, the recital began happily enough with Schubert’s delightful D783 set of German Dances (1823/4). Limpid minore playing contrasted with delightful flourishes. A perfect hors d’oeuvres before the main course of the first half, the ‘Wanderer’ Fantasy, given one of the most intelligent performances I have ever heard live. The slow two-in-a-bar for the opening enabled the semiquavers to speak, and Trpčeski’s clear intention to let Schubert’s counterpoint blossom was a revelation. Trpčeski clearly speaks Schubert’s language – the desolation of the Adagio was palpable, its underlying unrest perfectly projected and all the more disturbing for being held in the background. Speed characterized the final two movements. No problems of technique here, and yet the pyrotechnics never sounded un-Schubertian. Superb.

Initially the Bach/Liszt Prelude and Fugue was to end the first half; Trpčeski changed this so that the second half was all Liszt in some form or other. The grandeur of the Prelude to the A minor Fugue was palpable; alas, textures could tend towards overload in the fugue. Intelligent programming, too – the move to pure Liszt brought two more reflective pieces pitted against the extravaganza of the Hungarian Rhapsody. The eloquence of the lines of the Petrarch Sonnet and the superbly even, tonally beautiful playing of Les Jeux d’eaux à la Villa d’Este were much more than a warm-up, reminding us of Liszt’s depths (much as Pollini tends to schedule late Liszt immediately preceding his performances of the B minor Sonata). Trpčeski gave the music plenty of space to speak before delivering a Second Hungarian Rhapsody that was the very antithesis of Lang Lang’s glittery way with this piece. Not for one second was Trpčeski hackneyed, and not for one second was there a hint of this being an inferior piece, a mere pot-boiler.

Encores were fairly brief and included the last of Chopin’s Op. 24 Preludes. A memorable evening.

Colin Clarke