Only a star can get away with pranks like these, and this Russian virtuoso is definitely a star. An exclusive recording of Boris Berezovsky in concert.Audiences adore – and agents dread – his spontaneity. It was on full display on one evening in September 2016 in Bonn, Germany.
Just before his recital, Boris Berezovsky announced to the audience in the Beethoven Hall that rather than the Gyorgy Ligeti on the playbill, he’d prefer to play Franz Liszt. And in lieu of that “strange Stravinsky,” he was more in the mood for some “no less strange Bartok.”
The freshly printed brochure was ripe for the wastepaper basket; no explanations, no apologies. That’s the kind of thing only a star can get away with – and the audience ate it up.
Beethoven goes nuclear, Scarlatti is free – and Chopin minus one
Berezovsky begins this hour of music with Beethoven, a composer he venerates. “What I love about Beethoven is his absolutely fantastic energy – nuclear energy. It’s like a sun,” he explained. Accordingly, his rendition of Beethoven’s Sonata No. 13 is vigorous and athletic.
Nor does he make Chopin drip with sentimentality. As a musician who doesn’t adhere to the rule book, he omits one of the 12 etudes in the opus 10 collection – but not simply in an effort “to sound different this time.” Tricks are not necessary for that, said Berezovsky. “If you bring out the different things, it can become different music even though you are playing the same notes,” he said.
The music of Domenico Scarlatti might seem more simple than that of Chopin, but – pianists beware – it’s not. Each of his more than 500 piano sonatas is something of a declaration of independence. Scarlatti himself was aware how unusual his music was, saying that in his keyboard pieces, he “put all the rules of composition aside.”
The composer even posed the rhetorical question of whether such deviations from the rules might insult the ear. And he provided an answer. No, he wrote, “there’s almost no other rule for a man of genius to follow than this one: he must not displease the spirit from which music pours forth.”
We’ll also hear a sample of another Russian pianist, Yulianna Avdeeva, with more from her to come in our next “Concert Hour.”Ludwig van Beethoven
Sonata No. 13 in E-flat Major, op. 27, No. 1 (Sonata quasi una fantasia)
Eleven etudes, op. 10
Three sonatas for piano
performed by: Boris Berezovsky, piano
Recorded by Deutsche Welle (DW) in the Beethoven Hall, Bonn on September 19, 2016.
La Lugubre gondola (The Funeral Gondola; excerpt)
performed by: Yulianna Avdeeva, piano
Recorded by Central German Radio, Halle (MDR) in the Wartburg in Eisenach on August 12, 2016.