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October 1, 2014
Friday, July 25, 2014

Lavandera makes great, if mixed impression at the Colón

By Jaime Botana
During the past few months, Argentina has become an undisputable world centre of great pianists, with Peter Donohoe, Minsoo Sohn, Nelson Goerner and Lang Lang heading the uneven army of top artists. While we wait for Martha Argerich and Daniel Barenboim to crown this wonderful cast, Horacio Lavandera had a word to say.

His concert for the Variations cycle of Festivales Musicales made a great, if mixed impression. While his technical means are already legendary, he is also suspect of lack of feeling. And he displayed both aspects at the Colón.

Renowned for his mastery of Stockhausen and contemporary music, Lavandera now chose to show his command of classical repertoire. Bach’s Italian Concert, a favourite of star pianists, began the evening in an impressive version, played à la harpsichord, devoid of pedal, an example of clarity and style. The outer movements were dazzling. The centre one was too formal, and warned us of one of Lavandera’s traits: though sentimentality would have been out of the question, a touch of a softer cantabile and an overall loving of the piece would have helped soothe the severity of the interpretation, which sounded too austere.

Mozart’s Variations on Ah, je vous dirai Maman (aka Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star) was perfect, with a marvellous, delicate fingering. Perhaps a touch of feeling and humour would have added some more charm. All in all, an unforgettable reading.

Next came Beethoven and his Clair de Lune sonata, and here sterner objections may be risen. In the first movement, the accompaniment almost drowned the wondrous melody, and this confirmed our impression that the artist played his programme from scratch, paying no heed to traditional versions, and delivering readings as if they were played for the first time ever. Another notorious style trait: Lavandera’s disproportionate importance given to the left hand, sometimes in detriment to the right one and to the balance of the score.

This was especially noticeable in his Chopin — First Ballad and Sonata in B flat — where formidable readings were sometimes hampered by vertiginous speed.

A wonderful series of encores thanked the enthusiastic applause: Chopin’s Heroic Polonaise, Liszt’s second Hungarian Rhapsody and Chopin’s second Nocturne.

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