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REVIEW: Boris Berezovsky, International Piano Series 2013-14, Royal Festival Hall, London

16 January 2014

© David Crookes

Boris Berezovsky
International Piano Series 2013-14
Southbank Centre
14 January

Boris Berezovsky opened his Southbank recital with an unexpected reading of Reflets dans l’eau and Mouvement from Debussy’s Images Book 1, before he embarked on the published programme.

The insertion was disarming, introducing us to the sound world through a different door from that we anticipated. Ravel’s Gaspard de la nuit picked up the watery theme of tonight’s opener and added a darker shade to the setting for the water-nymph Ondine’s other-worldliness. The contradictory elements of Ondine’s complex character – latent and then frenetic devilish power and her tragic slinking exit – were captured convincingly.

In his selection of Rachmaninov’s Preludes, Op 32 Berezovsky battled the piano’s tendency to produce a muddy texture in big chordal passages, but there was pathos when the left hand brought out the melody. The Sonata No 2 in B flat minor was also moving and the music was never secondary to the virtuosity, allowing the lyricism of the second movement and the building momentum towards the climax of the third to speak for themselves.

We were treated to encores. October from Tchaikovsky’s The Seasons contained some lovely accompaniment but the melody could have lingered more. Liszt’s Concert Study Gnomenreingen suits Berezovsky down to the ground. He took it at an incredibly fast pace with a brilliant lightness of touch; diminutive dancers darted straight out of his fingertips.

Stephen Turvey

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