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Ludwig Van
Toronto Montreal

REVIEW | Pianist André Laplante a matchmaker in LMMC recital

Par Arthur Kaptainis le 2 octobre, 2017

Viewed as opponents by history, Liszt and Brahms were the twin pillars of André Laplante’s seventh recital for the Ladies’ Morning Musical Club, given Sunday afternoon at Pollack Hall. (Credit: Peter Schaff)
Viewed as opponents by history, Liszt and Brahms were the twin pillars of André Laplante’s seventh recital for the Ladies’ Morning Musical Club, given Sunday afternoon at Pollack Hall. (Credit: Peter Schaaf)

Viewed as opponents by history, Liszt and Brahms were the twin pillars of André Laplante’s seventh recital for the Ladies’ Morning Musical Club, given Sunday afternoon at Pollack Hall. One could appreciate their common spirit of grandeur in these impressive performances, which found the 67-year-old pianist very much in mid-career form.

The biggest item was the Piano Sonata No. 3 of young Brahms (whose Scherzo Op. 4, lest we forget, Liszt calmly sight-read from an untidy manuscript when the budding German composer paid him a visit in Weimar). Lasting more than 40 minutes, it is symphonic in bottom-to-top use of the keyboard as well as its emotional scope.

Or so at least it seemed on this occasion. The opening movement had had a majestic resonance and the presto sequence of the finale came across with full bravura. We could hear (and thus appreciate) the counterpoint of this movement and how it contributes to the general excitement.

Yet there was much moonlight (not to mention audience coughing) in the Andante espressivo. Here Laplante projected intimate feeling on a grand, public scale. The Scherzo was all the more energico for being contrasted with handsomely rounded chords in the trio section. Passion was artfully contained in the Intermezzo, quite appropriately, as Brahms holds his melodic reminiscences in check with an ominous drumbeat.

Liszt’s Funérailles

Before intermission Laplante produced a volcanic performance of Liszt’s Funérailles that left no doubt of his authority as a technician or the resonance of the bass register of the Steinway he was using. Tonal power was mixed with soulful melody and full use of the keyboard. Liszt and Brahms, brothers after all!

Schubert is made of subtler stuff, and Laplante respected the lyrical character of the Sonata in A Major D. 664. Still, he was a keen judge of the agitated passages of the outer movements. Expression seemed more conventional in Mozart’s Sonata in E Flat K. 282. The diminished chords that intrude on the minuet were tossed off as harmless ornaments.

This work was given in place of Mozart’s Rondo in A Minor K. 511. As often with Laplante, there were traces of vocalise throughout the afternoon, sometimes hard to distinguish from the overtones of the instrument. No matter. Good recital.

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Arthur Kaptainis

Arthur Kaptainis has been the classical music critic of the Montreal Gazette since 1986 and wrote for the National Post 2010-2016. His articles have appeared in Classical Voice North America and La Scena Musicale as well as Ludwig Van. Arthur holds an MA in musicology from the University of Toronto.

Arthur Kaptainis

Arthur Kaptainis has been the classical music critic of the Montreal Gazette since 1986 and wrote for the National Post 2010-2016. His articles have appeared in Classical Voice North America and La Scena Musicale as well as Ludwig Van. Arthur holds an MA in musicology from the University of Toronto.
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