Peter Jablonski – review

Queen Elizabeth Hall, London

We don't hear as much of Swedish-born pianist Peter Jablonski in the UK as we might, which is strange, given that he lives here. He developed a reputation for being a hard-hitting heavyweight, a criticism not borne out by his recent work, in which vigour is offset by great delicacy. There's a maverick quality to Jablonski's programming, however, that reveals an easy familiarity with a repertoire of considerable breadth. His latest QEH recital was no exception.

The first half consisted of two big, moody 19th-century ballades: Liszt's Second in B minor and Grieg's in G minor. Some pianists prefer a bright tone in Liszt, but Jablonski opted for something darker, so that the obsessive left-hand chromatic scales heaved with menace, while the arpeggios and figurations that surround the expansive central melody combined beauty with a deep sense of unease. Grieg's Ballade – in reality a set of variations on a Norwegian folksong – has a discursive quality that Jablonski could not disguise, though the emotional range of the performance was immense, with crushing grief in the central lento, and sardonic, angry humour in the scherzando passages.

After the interval came works by Gershwin, Copland and Samuel Barber. The jazzy extroversion with which he tackled Gershwin's Three Preludes for Piano spoke volumes about his fondness for this music, while Earl Wild's transcription of Embraceable You was breathtaking in its dexterity and finesse. Muted and Sensuous, the fourth of Copland's Four Piano Blues, was a wonderful mix of sleaze and elegance. The case for Barber's Sonata – with its angular lines and sparse sonorities – could not, meanwhile, have been better put. There was one encore – Debussy's Feux d'artifice, sensationally played.


Tim Ashley

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Marc-André Hamelin – review
Marc-André Hamelin only remember he was a master of the piano in the second half of this concert, says Erica Jeal

Erica Jeal

17, Apr, 2011 @5:30 PM

Grieg/Liszt: Piano Concertos – review
Pianist Stephen Hough's ability to recast old works as new comes to the fore in this striking recording of Grieg and Liszt, writes Stephen Pritchard

Stephen Pritchard

29, Oct, 2011 @11:06 PM

BBC Philharmonic/Mena – review
An unscheduled performance of Grieg's Last Spring, organised in the wake of the BBC Philharmonic's return from Japan, was unbearably heartfelt, writes Tim Ashley

Tim Ashley

28, Mar, 2011 @8:45 PM

Article image
Mariinsky Stradivarius Ensemble/Gergiev – review

Antique strings filled London's newest concert venue with rich sound, although the pacing varied under Gergiev's baton

George Hall

06, Nov, 2013 @12:30 PM

CD reviews: Elgar | Nielsen | Debussy | Grieg

Elgar | Nielsen | Debussy | Grieg

Reviews by Andrew Clements

15, Mar, 2002 @1:25 PM

Nikolai Lugansky – review
Pianist Nikolai Lugansky's programme – Chopin, Brahms, Liszt – was terribly difficult, typically generous and dispatched with a minimum of fuss, writes Tim Ashley

Tim Ashley

12, Jan, 2011 @10:31 PM

Dmitri Hvorostovsky – review
Hvorostovsky's charisma certainly aids his interpretation, but his technique and fervour made this some of the greatest singing of Liszt I've heard, writes Tim Ashley

Tim Ashley

24, Oct, 2011 @5:37 PM

Stephen Hough – review

Hough is always authoritative, but his playing of Liszt here was a tour de force, underlining its modern and mysterious nature, says Rian Evans

Rian Evans

06, Jun, 2011 @4:39 PM

Article image
Philharmonia/Salonen review – formidable dexterity in a bizarrely uneven concert
The skilled conductor just about kept control of Lang Lang’s wayward piano and, despite a chorus lacking in power, the actors were exquisite

Tim Ashley

27, Nov, 2015 @11:27 AM

Pierre-Laurent Aimard – review
Aimard held his poise at the piano to ensure nobody dared do anything so distracting as to applaud, writes Erica Jeal

Erica Jeal

12, Dec, 2011 @3:49 PM