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Now that Arcadi Volodos is restricting his appearances to some 50 concerts a season, London can count itself fortunate to have heard the great Russian pianist in recital three times in as many years. His latest programme at the Barbican Hall focused on two composers especially close to his heart. Clara Schumann had asked the composer to transcribe the slow movement of his String Sextet no. Initially, this is Brahms at his fiercest but also least accessible, with relatively dense textures.

Red meat in abundance, so to speak. By the time we reached the fourth of the six variations, however, with its floating melodies in the right hand and rippling harmonies in the left, there was a bewitching lightness of touch from Volodos, like a gentle breeze caressing the cheeks. Such mercurial shifts in mood with softly tapering dynamics were to become compelling features of this recital as a whole. There is something of a disconnect between expectations and reality in the titles of the Eight Piano Pieces Op.

The opening Capriccio in F sharp minor had rolling octaves delivered in imperious fashion, with just a few concessions to the name in the bursts of energy from the right hand. Not much playfulness here and nothing like the giocoso of the scherzo in the Fourth Symphony, but this is high table Brahms which even a master pianist cannot tweak towards the hint of a smile.

There were hardly any shortcomings here from Volodos, who found an impressive range of colour in the varying moods of the remaining pieces. Volodos was alive to the agitated murmurings and unsettling quality of the B flat major Intermezzo, stoked up the emotional temperature in thrilling cascades of notes in the C sharp minor Capriccio and, in the concluding C major Capriccio, moved from a moment of inner stasis to a sudden eruption with fistfuls of hammered notes hurtling towards a dramatic end.

In the last few weeks of his incredibly short life, Schubert wrote some of his greatest masterpieces, including the String Quintet in C major and his final three piano sonatas, which to some extent inhabit the world of the wanderer in Winterreise.

In doing so he revealed in a quite mesmerising way why this work comes so very close to expressing the human condition in all its fragility, existential doubt and ineffable sadness. Schubert is the master of transitions: where the sky is apparently occluded, quite suddenly shafts of sunlight will break through and heighten the senses, only for semi-darkness to return. Volodos captured these quicksilver shifts in mood, tone and atmosphere most winningly.

The slow movement began like a voice from the hereafter, with breathtakingly hushed half-tones. As listeners we were privy to an inner dialogue, in which all the cadences of speech gave expression to the quest for greater certainty. Here it is that Schubert gives us the strongest intimations of our own mortality.

With magically rapt playing and dynamics stretched almost to the point of inaudibility, Volodos took his listeners to the edge of the abyss and gazed with them into that great void that lies beyond our comprehension. The Scherzo had a gossamer lightness to it, but always with a touch of menace in the left hand, as darkness crept up on the tripping rhythms in the right hand. It was the stabbing left hand again, like ice-splinters to the heart, which set up the strongest of contrasts in the finale before the presto climax ended in a whirlwind of sound.

Our privacy policy was last updated on Friday 31 January View it here Dismiss. Twitter Google Facebook. Remember me Sign in Lost password? Register with email address. Events Reviews Articles Video. By Alexander Hall , 15 December See full listing. Reviewed at Barbican Hall, London on 14 December Schubert , Piano Sonata no. Schubert , Minuet in C sharp minor, D.

Mompou , Les jeunes filles au jardin. Brahms , 6 Pieces for piano: Intermezzo in E flat minor, Op. Arcadi Volodos , Piano. Armed with extraordinary precision, the Russian pianist brings as much elegance to his compatriots Rachmaninov and Scriabin as he does to Schubert. Arcadi Volodos is a big man, and when he sits down to the piano, he produces a big sound. Russian pianist Arcadi Volodos held the audience's attention with live performance at its best, at times eccentric, yet totally captivating and always uplifting.

For anyone lucky enough to have witnessed the last Barbican residency from Riccardo Chailly and the Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra, the striking, thoughtful and vivid accounts of Brahms they gave here should not be a surprise. Read reviews of. Arcadi Volodos Piano Sonata no. Related articles. Challenging reputations: Lawrence Power on Brahms and the viola. More by Alexander Hall. Three's a crowd: the Vienna Philharmonic packs in Beethoven 1, 2 and 3.

First and Second Viennese School side by side in the Elbphilharmonie. Alexander Hall. Alexander Hall divides his time between London and Hamburg, having spent a lifetime writing in some form or other: fiction, academic research, educational materials and professional translations.

For him the symphony orchestra is one of the greatest artistic creations of all time. All rights reserved. Click here for conditions of use.


Volodos takes his listeners to the edge of the abyss

Paris Orchestra places its activities in the direct line from the French musical tradition, the 19th and 20th centuries and contemporary music. The Philharmonica Orchestra works on an education programme that empowers people in every community to engage with, and participate in, orchestral music. Piano recitals have played a central role in the artistic life of Volodos. CD recording have had great success among international critics. The cellist J. Queyras is a passionate artist, whose humble and quite unpretentious treatment of the score reflects its clear, undistorted essence. With a celebrated career encompassing five decades, Pinchas Zukerman reigns as one of today's most sought after and versatile musicians.

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Arcadi Volodos, piano



Arcadi Volodos review – a masterly delivery of Brahms and Schubert


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