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Lars Vogt (piano) Wigmore Hall, 2 May 2006

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Piano Sonata in C K. 330
Tatiana Komarova: Tänze mit verbundenen Augen
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Piano Sonata in A K. 331
Franz Schubert: Piano Sonata in B flat D. 960


This was a disconcerting appearance by a pianist whose progress we have followed with great pleasure over the years. At a pre-recital interview with Hilary Finch he said it had been an advantage to win second prize at Leeds (to Artur Pizarro) as that meant he was not catapulted into the trappings of fame too quickly.


He has a demanding schedule into the future, but likes occasionally responding to requets at short notice, and he greats great satisfaction from running a small chamber music festival at Heimback, in Germany near the Belgian border.


Mozart is obligatory this year and it was his interpretations of two Mozart sonatas which disturbed me. During the interview he said he recognised the validity of thinking about fortepianos, but considered the Steinway was best for creating the colours he wanted to produce. .


Although he sits at the piano quietly, I found Lars Vogt's approach to Mozart excessively mannered and indulgent. Dynamic extremes were the rule, and he had a way of producing surges of crescendo, often seeming to emphasise the wrong note in a phrase; individuality for its own sake which quickly palled.


The audience was accepting, and one doesn't know how much some may havae been influenced by the modern-day imprimature of quality - a signing session afterwards for a newly released Mozart sonatas CD ! An evening at one of the Historic Piano Soirées at RAM would certainly have given Vogt (and members of his audience) food for thought


No problems for us with his performances of Blindfold Dances, a ten-minute work by his wife, with a bell tolling down in the depths for the second of its three short movements. Nor with the Schubert Bb sonata, treated with all the seriousness and depth of exploration it demands; he had already played it in London at last year's Proms. But Vogt's account - with the first movement repeat - did leave me wondering, not for the first time, why Schubert began with two long slow movements, as also in his uncompleted symphony?




For a contrary opinion of Vogt's Mozart see Geoffrey Norris

See also Mitsuko Uchida on DVD


Credit: Anthony Parmlee

© Peter Grahame Woolf