This was a recital that brought out the best in the pianist Mitsuko Uchida - but then that's nothing unusual. Uchida has to be one of the most satisfying performers around. Listen to the sustained, whispered tone she creates in the softest episodes and you can hardly believe the piano is a percussion instrument. But there is plenty of muscle to her performance as well, along with a poised, unselfconscious grace and, most importantly, a formidable intelligence that rarely makes a single note seem superfluous.
The first work to benefit from her cool sensitivity was Schoenberg's Three Piano Pieces, Op 11. At the opening of the first, the disparate elements seemed to converse with each other easily and respectfully, and even the sudden, surprising irruptions of sound dissolved elegantly. And even after the cacophonous first bars of the third, behind the passionate intensity of her playing there was a sense of logic and structure - and, what is more, heart - that is often all too elusive in this music.
From the sense of stillness at the end of the Schoenberg, inspiring absolute silence in the hall for several seconds, grew the opening of Schubert's Op 78 Sonata in G, a seemingly sunny but deceptive piece toying with dance rhythms and innocent turns of phrase and coming up with something poignantly wistful, almost otherworldly. Uchida maintained an understated, music-box calm in the first movement; the shattering climax crept up on us only to evaporate even more quickly, but it cast a knowing shadow over the rest of the movement.
Schumann's Fantasie in C was the last challenge. In the hands of a more gung-ho pianist, this epic work can seem a rambling indulgence, but with Uchida's disciplined approach it made perfect sense. Melodic lines came strongly to the fore while background details remained just that. The taut, initially easy rhythms and rich sonority of the march movement did start to sound a little effortful towards the end, but in the final movement, with its glancing references to Beethoven, there were moments of extraordinary intensity.
Uchida shook her head when an overenthusiastic punter applauded before the last note had quite faded; moments later she was laughing and nodding vigorously, and we needed no persuasion to respond.