sun 03/07/2022

Kolesnikov, Tsoy, LSO St Luke’s review - light, air and adventure from two pianos | reviews, news & interviews

Kolesnikov, Tsoy, LSO St Luke’s review - light, air and adventure from two pianos

Kolesnikov, Tsoy, LSO St Luke’s review - light, air and adventure from two pianos

A journey around Saint-Saëns, bookended by French and Ukrainian-Russian swans

Pavel Kolesnikov and Samson TsoyEva Vermandel

After the turbulence of masterpieces over the previous three evenings – Janáček, Britten, and the greats featured in this duo’s Fidelio Café fundraiser for Ukraine – it was balm to feel the air and leisure of the first three miniatures in this beautifully-planned programme.

Extra magic came from the physical distancing: more often Kolesnikov and Tsoy sit alongside one another at a single keyboard, but at opposite ends of two more or less interlocking grands, eye co-ordination on the visual front and the space you could hear in the acoustics of beautiful St Luke’s paid off. The partners are very different personalities, and you hear that in their solo recitals; but here the consonance was so absolute that, able as many of us were to see hands at one keyboard, the melody line seemed to be coming from there but the optics told us otherwise.

De la Tour portrait of Anne-Jeanne nee BouconKolesnikov is the known master of 17th and early 18th century piano style through his championship of Louis (uncle of Francois) Couperin’s keyboard music. But the frills and trills were equally exquisite in the arrangement by featured anniversary composer Saint-Saëns of Rameau’s “La Boucon,” delectable musical portrait of pupil Anne-Jeanne Boucon (pictured left in later life by Maurice Quentin De la Tour). Further fusion of styles came in Saint-SaënsVariations on a Theme of Beethoven, more infused with French wit than Beethovenian grandeur, including fabulous shuttlecocking of crisp chords between the two players and a startling harmonic twist when the variations move into the minor.

The child-inspired (rather than child-friendly) cameos of Bizet’s Jeux d’enfants and Fauré’s Dolly Suite inevitably sounded different on two pianos rather than four hands at one, as they were written; in crisp selections, Kolesnikov and Tsoy favoured the tender over the witty (we’d had a taste of “Le jardin de Dolly” as encore in the Tuesday fundraiser).

A tour de force to cap the Beethoven Variations served as very grand finale. Planned as such long before recent events, Kharkiv-born Leonid Desyatnikov’s Du côté de chez Swan [sic] takes us on an occasionally alarming ride. Tocsins sounded from the heights of Tsoy’s piano at the start before Desyatnikov sets up turning Saint-Saëns's celebrated swan – so beautifully glided through at the start of the concert – into first a cubist version and then a John Adamsesque creature flying excitingly through space. Whether the Proust-adapted title (only one n, of course, so not about the protagonist) and the use of the quotation have a programme behind them can’t be established (all we’re told is that the work was “written for his close friend and collaborator, the pianist Alexei Garibol); but as an abstract surprise, this was a mighty impressive final flourish.

Desyatnikov turns Saint-Saëns' celebrated swan into first a cubist version and then a John Adamsesque creature flying through space

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Editor Rating: 
5
Average: 5 (1 vote)

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