It was a wise decision to programme Pavel Kolesnikov in Chopin for the penultimate Proms Chamber Music recital this season; the hour illuminated, through Kolesnikov’s sensitive and idiomatic performances, that strange contrast of simplicity and complexity which characterises this composer.
It would be invidious to single out a highlight: the whole, from the opening Waltz in A-flat to its Opus 18 companion in E-flat, the latter an encore, worked convincingly as an overview of Chopin’s oeuvre. From the first notes we could tell just how much care and understanding Kolesnikov would bring to the music; much that was assiduously considered, the placement of each note and chord precise, but without losing the sense of a longer line.
Later, and especially in the Impromptus, there was greatly effective use of dynamics and pauses: the latter often a pregnant calm before the unleashing of a pianistic storm, powerfully illustrating the musical value of silence, and the conclusion of the F-minor Fantasy seemed to come out of nowhere. If the Mazurkas (the five played not specified) were less subtle, prime contrasts in bold colours, that was no evidence of less care in their address: Kolesnikov even had the piano’s action changed mid-concert, a sign of his dedication to getting Chopin just right that shined through consistently.
- Broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 (available on BBC iPlayer for thirty days afterwards)
- BBC Proms www.bbc.co.uk/proms