George Benjamin
Shadowlines: 6 Canonic Preludes
Chopin
24 Preludes, Op.28

Louis Lortie (piano)

Louis Lortie
Photograph: Elias Louis Lortie brought his trademark Fazioli to Wigmore Hall for music as stylistically different as could be, yet similar in aim – contrasting soundworlds in miniature forms, beginning with a grabbing, absorbing account of George Benjamin’s Messiaen-esque Shadowlines, which frequently highlights single notes or short motifs for effects of extraordinary intensity, before building up into greater complexity.

In Chopin’s 24 Preludes there was again great attention paid to detail. Lortie often took his time without ever feeling sluggish, although he didn’t shy away from a more impressionistic delivery when appropriate; fortissimo was rarely used, and therefore all the more impactful when it was.

Even if there is no consensus on whether these Preludes were intended to be heard sequentially, Lortie certainly convinced, and it was tempting to hear each piece as a summation of what had gone before. Although there were highlights, it was the way the whole fitted together that stood out, and our understanding was further enhanced by the set’s conceptual relationship to the Benjamin.

Altogether this was a superb instalment of the Wigmore/Radio 3 lunchtime series, combining an ingenious programme with Lortie’s deep sympathy for the music which added a profound emotional dimension to his technical achievement.

 

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