DESKTOP
TABLET (max. 1024px)
MOBILE (max. 640px)
Return to Top
Ludwig Van
Toronto Montreal

SCRUTINY | Ivo Pogorelich Offers A Recital To Remember

By Arthur Kaptainis on April 25, 2022

Ivo Pogorelich (Photo courtesy of the artist)
Ivo Pogorelich (Photo courtesy of the artist)

All Fryderyk Chopin program: Ivo Pogorelich, piano. Koerner Hall, Apr. 24, 2022

All Chopin: so it said on the printed program. While listeners of an orthodox bent might question the accuracy of that description, no one could deny that what we heard in Koerner Hall on Sunday afternoon was all Ivo Pogorelich. More than 40 years after his Toronto debut, this Croatian pianist remains one of a kind.

Polarizing? I hesitate to add the epithet, given the profound quiet that prevailed in the hall while he played and the roof-shaking response that greeted him when he was done. Critics might spar over the merits of Pogorelich’s music making, and debate the ups and downs of his career. People who pay to hear him seem to regard the money as well spent.

The recital of about two hours might have taken 95 minutes in the hands of an artist less inclined to probe every bar for its expressive potential. Tempos were slow not for the sake of slowness, but to make the inner recesses of the music accessible to the ear.

Not that there was anything like a metronome ticking on stage. Tempo is itself an element of musical expression and subject to change without notice, as Pogorelich reminded us in the Barcarolle Op. 60, which got the program off to a mesmerizing start. Not many pianists can increase tension by applying the brakes to a pace that is already on the leisurely side; or capture the complete attention of a listener by reducing the pulse to the edge of nonexistence, as in the Largo of the Sonata Op. 58.

It would be impossible to catalogue all the stretches and compressions, inverted balances, booming bass lines, prolonged rests and fiery trills that populated this fascinating recital. The repertoire of effects — I almost wrote special effects — turned the Sonata into a symphony and the Fantasie in F Minor Op. 49 into a tone poem. Yet, Pogorelich had the good judgment not to compromise the rhythmic character of the rousing finale of the former or the martial opening of the latter. And, if the little right-hand cadenza near the end of Op. 49 was stretched to a maddening infinity, well, this masterpiece is not called a “fantasy” for nothing.

Concluding the program as advertised were the Berceuse Op. 57 — a sweetly sung lullaby indeed — and the Polonaise-fantaisie Op. 61, which reached a climax that could be fairly called cataclysmic. Moscow-trained, Pogorelich regards himself as an exponent of the Russian school. He can certainly create an impressive sonority.

There were two encores, inaudibly announced from the stage. I recognized the first as the Prelude Op. 45. Possibly something more rhythmically engaging might have made a better send-off. We had heard quite a bit of Chopin in his languorous and poetic mode.

But again, was it all Chopin? Does a Pogorelich interpretation constitute a departure from, or re-engagement with, the music as notated? I am not sure it cannot be both. At any rate, most of his stylistic migrations are from accepted convention, not the score as such. An expressive direction like calando or smorzando does not come with prescribed limits.

As the reader might have surmised by now, it was quite an afternoon, incorporating nonmusical elements of interest. Dressed in traditional evening tails and bowing solemnly from the waist, Pogorelich looked like a figure from another age.

He played from sheet music — remarkably, as these selections make up his only recital program of the season. Some of those pages (which he carried with him) looked a little threadbare. Stage breezes during the Prelude necessitated quick action from the page-turner.

Well, why not use the music? Pogorelich certainly finds new things in it.

#LUDWIGVAN

Get the daily arts news straight to your inbox.

Sign up for the Ludwig van Daily — classical music and opera in five minutes or less HERE.

Share this article
lv_toronto_banner_high_590x300
comments powered by Disqus

Ludwig Van Toronto

THE SCOOP | Toronto Neighbourhood Named Fastest-Growing Area For New Music In Canada

By Michael Vincent on April 20, 2022

If you had to guess which Canadian city had the highest growth rate for new musicians, what would you choose?
Read the full story Comments
Share this article
lv_toronto_banner_high_590x300

SCRUTINY | Canadian Opera Company Returns Triumphant With Superb ‘La Traviata’

By Joseph So on April 25, 2022

Musically and dramatically, the Canadian Opera Company scores a hit with 'La Traviata', a triumphant return to the live stage.
Read the full story Comments
Share this article

THE SCOOP | Toronto Summer Music Is Back For 2022 With A Cornucopia Of Musical Treats

By Anya Wassenberg on April 26, 2022

After the long pandemic-induced hiatus, Toronto Summer Music has announced their line-up for an in-person 2022 festival.
Read the full story Comments
Share this article
lv_toronto_banner_low_590x300
lv_toronto_ssb_atf_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_high_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_mid_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_low_300x300
lv_toronto_tsb_high_300x700
lv_toronto_tsb_low_300x700
lv_toronto_ssb_atf_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_high_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_mid_300x300
lv_toronto_ssb_low_300x300
lv_toronto_tsb_high_300x700
lv_toronto_tsb_low_300x700

We have detected that you are using an adblocking plugin in your browser.

The revenue we earn by the advertisements is used to manage this website. Please whitelist our website in your adblocking plugin.