Music review: Andreas Haefliger

Edinburgh International Festival: Usually hearing Mussorgsky's Pictures from an Exhibition in its version orchestrated by Ravel, it is easy to forget that it was originally scored for piano.

Queen’s Hall

*****

Paradoxically, in some ways less is more with the solo piano version, especially when played by a pianist who has the astonishing breadth of expression heard from Andreas Haefliger at the Queen’s Hall yesterday morning.

Not for the faint-hearted, this was a colossal performance in which the colours of Victor Hartmann’s pictures were boldly spray-painted across its ten movements, whether the thunderous witchery of Baba Yaga segueing into the majestic, powerful chords of The Great Gate of Kiev, the daring breakneck speed of The Market Place at Limoges or the dancing Unhatched Chicks.

Fluttering feathers were heard too in Liszt’s St François d’Assise: La prédication aux oiseaux. Meticulously precise, the high register twitterings glistened as cascades of super-smooth ripples thrilled in a vivid outburst of virtuosity.

In an unanticipatedly linked-up programme, it was Berg’s first Piano Sonata, running the gamut of emotions in its concentrated single movement, that lay the foundation for what was to follow, including the exhilarating fugal themes of Beethoven’s A major Piano Sonata Op 101.