Monday, February 11, 2008

Piano digression

For the record, I got to see Radu Lupu play live for the first time today here at Orchestra Hall. I liberated this disc from my mother at some point before going off to college and I think it is the recording from which a good deal of my subsequent love of Brahms flows. There was no Brahms on the program today however: Lupu played the Schubert Sonata D. 850 (which I don't know well) and Book 1 of Debussy's preludes. There's a reason why this is less often played Schubert, but Lupu brought out many of its joys.

But the Debussy--well that was on another level altogether. Synesthetes in the audience would have been driven to seizures with the wondrous range of colors he was able to draw out of the Preludes. If one could say of the current greats that it is Pollini who is able to make plain the true structure of a piece, or Argerich who finds its true magic, when we speak of the the authentic color in a work we must speak of Lupu. I don't pretend to know a whit about how pianists go about creating such things, but it was a marvel.

And here's a swell example for your listening pleasure: the Intermezzo in B Minor from that Brahms disc.

P.S. I saw Mitsuko Uchida in the lobby. It was pretty kewl.


Anonymous said...

I didn't catch Lupu when he did that program at Carnegie Hall recently, but saw him do all five Beethoven concertos in the space of a week with the Cleveland Orchestra at Carnegie a couple of seasons back, and it was incredible.

That particular Brahms disc is one of my absolute desert-island selections, one of my favorite recordings of anything, ever.

eusebius said...

Lupu is fantastic. I sure love that Brahms disc and always recommend it to my students who play Brahms. I have never heard him play Debussy but with his command and subtlety I'm sure it would be outstanding.

Anonymous said...

Agree 10 zillion percent, Alex!

See my Sun-Times review here if you like:

Alex said...


Glad you mention those far fingers of the right hand in your review. I think I fell into something of a trance at one point during the Schubert trying to reconcile how those notes in my ear were being produced by his pinky finger. He really pushes the boundaries of what you expect of the instrument.