Festival review: Leif Ove Andsnes; Queen’s Hall

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The way that Norwegian pianist Leif Ove Andsnes looks on stage says quite a lot about his playing.

Accepting justly energetic applause from the Queen’s Hall audience yesterday morning at the end of a demanding recital, he appeared as coolly coutured and coiffed as when he started. Totally in control, always in command, Leif Ove Andsnes is a serious force to be reckoned with.

Rather than overt outpourings of his own emotional response to the music, it is as if he invites the listener to be part of the intimate relationship he has created between himself and the composer. Beethoven’s Waldstein sonata was in a class of its own. Technically impeccable, Andsnes’s beautifully-turned phrasing is not only ever accurate, but nailed every facet of Beethoven’s mighty tribute to his patron, Count Waldstein.

In Chopin, his three Op 70 and the single Op 42 Waltzes were performed with lilting romance and graceful ease, plus a few fireworks along the way in No 1 and twiddly ornamentation virtuoso-style for the final waltz. The Ballade No 1 in G minor, 
Op 23, was perfectly judged, never over-dramatic, but Chopin in his choicest light.

Rating: * * * * *