Snape Proms: Biss/Esfahani review – a pair of near-perfect performances

08.24.14
Jonathan Biss
The Guardian

Jonathan Biss confirmed his status as a truly world-class pianist, and Mahan Esfahani showed that Bach is nothing less than a way of life

By Rian Evans

Jonathan Biss's recital at the Snape Proms confirmed his status as one of the finest pianists of his generation. With music by Chopin and Janácek framed by two Beethoven Sonatas in F minor, the early Op 2 No 1 and finally the Appassionata Op 57, this was a serious affair. Biss's interpretations of Beethoven are already much acclaimed, and here the performances seemed to have matured further: this was a deeply considered, forthright delivery, countered by an acute sense of tonal colour.

His playing of Janácek showed an equally instinctive feel for what makes this composer's soundworld so characteristic. In From the Streets and In the Mists, Biss captured both the folk-like inflections and the more operatic arioso, as well as unleashing an orchestral torrent to stunning effect. Similarly, his Chopin Nocturne Op 62 No 1 and the Op 62 Polonaise-Fantasie spun long threads of melody punctuated with explosions of passion.

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