Music review: Piotr Anderszewski, Queen’s Hall

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Beethoven’s 33 variations on a waltz by Anton Diabelli together with Bach’s Goldbergs are the twin peaks of the piano repertoire.

Piotr Anderszewski, Queen’s Hall (*****)

In his finely judged performance of the Diabelli Op 20, Piotr Anderszewksi took us on a mesmerizing journey through what is surely one of history’s most elaborate musical put-downs. Flexing his considerable compositional muscles, Beethoven takes Diabelli’s straw-like material and spins it into musical gold.

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With his solid technique and phenomenal musicality, Anderszewksi sprinkled his own gold dust over these quirky variations. He delivered the Beethoven dynamics with a flourish and brought an improvisatory freshness to the more playful movements. The resonant quality he brought to the mystical grave e maestoso at the heart of the variations was transcendent.

This echoed Anderszewksi’s mastery of the subtle shading that was to the fore in the first half of the concert. There was a lightness to his contrapuntal lines in the three prelude and fugues, in C major, A flat major and D sharp minor, from the second book of Bach’s The Well-Tempered Clavier. His dance-like rhythms in Bach’s English Suite No 3 in G minor were spot-on and he breathed poetry into the graceful ornamentation of the Sarabande.