Best recital of the year, so far

Best recital of the year, so far


norman lebrecht

January 03, 2010

For the first four sections of Javier Perianes’s recital at the Wigmore Hall this morning, I was not sure if it was his fingers that needed warming or my ears. Probably a bit of both.

The Spanish pianist opened with a sonata by Manuel Blasco de Nebra (1750-1784), whose works he is presently recording for Harmonia Mundi. It was pretty enough baroque stuff from a period I don’t much care for and nothing he did to it suggested any hint of genius in creation or, for that matter, in execution.

The first two of Schubert’s D899 impromptus were equally unremarkable, perfectly rendered but more plangent than lyrical. The G-flat major sonata was where things got interesting and the A-flat major compelling.

In the third sonata by Frederic Chopin, Perianes was plainly in his element, dismissing the score’s obvious difficulties with something like scorn and barely bothering to bend his erect back. Perianes is, on this showing, an artist of prodigious technique and strong character, though one who has yet to define a repertoire that wholly suits him.

He has a peculiar mannerism of leaping off the piano stool and rushing off stage before the last note has faded. He did it at the end of the Chopin, and twice more after his encores.

The hall was packed at 11.30 on a Sunday morning and the lobby chatter afterwards, over free sherry and coffee, was appreciative. A thousand people had found a haven in piano music while, two minutes’ walk away, Oxford Street was heaving with sales crowds.

All my adult life, I have chosen to live within walking distance of the Wigmore Hall and seldom have I regretted a visit. Tonight, the Auryn Quartet launch a complete Beethoven cycle. My ears are warmed up; I shall go back soon. Here’s where.


  • About that habit of leaping up and rushing offstage before the last note had faded… how odd!! Maybe he had to get to the men’s room.
    I love the idea of the free sherry!
    NL adds: Maybe it was an early sherry that sent him rushing to the men’s room.