Edinburgh International Festival music review: Mitsuko Uchida, reviewed by The Scotsman’s Susan Nickalls.
Whatever venue she finds herself in, Mitsuko Uchida has the gift of being able to draw the listener in with her sensitive and highly musical interpretations. However, the pianist’s performance of Schubert’s Impromptus D899 in the first half of this concert never quite settled. Furthermore, for someone so meticulous in every aspect of her pianism, Uchida uncharacteristically made quite a few mistakes.
Schubert is a difficult taskmaster and although Uchida didn’t quite pull off the volatile and technically challenging E flat major impromptu, she did find the rich vein of poetry in Schubert’s music, especially the ghostly utterances in the final A flat major allegretto.
The second half was a completely different story with Uchida in sparkling form for Beethoven’s sensational Variations on a Waltz by Diabelli, Op 120. After simply stating Diabelli’s rather pompous theme, she took the listener on a compelling musical journey. With delight, she teased the humour out of Beethoven’s little in-jokes, such as a take-off of Mozart’s Don Giovanni and several references to Bach’s monumental Goldberg Variations.
In the gorgeous translucency of variation 31’s arioso, Uchida beautifully captured Beethoven’s jazz-ward leanings which foreshadow the exquisite variation 33 which brings this sensational work to its serene conclusion.
Main image: Justin Pumfrey
Published in The Scotsman on 26 August 2015
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