Derby's live music scene is slowly getting back together again, and this recital [on 11 June 2021] launched a new series of Friday lunchtime concerts in the Cathedral. Ukraine-born pianist Ivan Hovorun put together a quirky salute to romantic piano virtuosity.
The Chaconne in G minor attributed to violinist and composer Tomaso Antonio Vitali (1663-1745) - but whose authorship has been strongly disputed - was once a favourite violin showpiece, filtered through layers of nineteenth-century extravagance. Hovorun has based his transcription on the version for violin and piano by the Belgian violinist Léopold Charlier (1867-1936). His playing clearly differentiated the individual variations, with some glittering upper keyboard finger-work, while maintaining a feel for the overall shape. I do find, though, that romantic grand gestures applied to baroque music are apt to be self-defeating.
Does the Adagio from Beethoven's Hammerklavier Sonata work as a stand-alone piece? I'm not convinced; I was waiting for that extraordinary opening to the finale to follow. But on its own terms this was an engrossing performance, bringing out the brief passages that seem to pre-echo Chopin. The quiet moments, particularly, including the ending, were sensitively done.
Liszt made a number of Wagner transcriptions, the Overture to Tannhäuser being a particularly flamboyant example. In Hovorun's reading the opening march was surprisingly slow; these pilgrims were obviously in no hurry to get to Rome. But there's no denying his abundant technique - the swirling figuration round the March's reprise seemed totally secure. I say 'seemed' because, given that the Cathedral's acoustic is apt to be swimmy, here as elsewhere detail tended to be lost, to the point where I wondered if it would have been better to have had the piano lid down.
Copyright © 16 June 2021