We were delighted to have the Polish-born pianist Mateusz Rettner to play a hugely ambitious programme for us. This date was originally to feature also a string quartet and when they dropped out Mateusz was very kind to offer a solo recital.
The evening opened a little hesitantly, in truth, with a Bach prelude and fugue for which 'underprepared' might be the best description. But then Mateusz started going up through the gears, with a fine performance of Beethoven's sonata Op 109 followed by a virtuoso rendering (from memory) of Scriabin's mighty 5th sonata of 1907. This was new to me and made me realise that Scriabin is a composer whose work I need to explore. Seldom has our 'old lady' Bechstein been played with such power!
During the interval, one of the audience said to me that he regretted there was no other 20th century music in the programme. That was largely my own doing: Mateusz is a champion of 20th century and contemporary composers, but I had asked him to emphasise the Romantic repertoire in his recital. Little did we know, however, that a surprise awaited us: Mateusz had added to his programme the unpublished 1st sonata by Grazyna Bacewicz, which was something of a delight, with (to my ear) unexpected echoes of Ravel as well as Bartok. Then it was on to Chopin with a ballade, a nocturne, three etudes and the Fantasie in F minor to finish. All I could say at the end was "Wow!"
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