Llyr Williams review – Beethoven from a pianist of probing intellect

05.29.15
Llyr Williams
Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, Cardiff

Llyr Williams is a natural Beethovenian. It’s three years since he won a South Bank Sky award for his sonata cycle at the Edinburgh festival, but the present series, running concurrently at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and at the Wigmore Hall, suggests that an already astonishing interpretation continues to evolve and deepen.
 
Williams has that precious ability to shed new light on the most familiar music, and a nonchalant technical mastery and singing tone that transform the simplest of melodies into something exceptional. In particular, the bright sunshine of the F major march, Op 101, seemed to tug the ear back to its relative, D minor, Op 31 No 2 – an emotional landscape clouded in mist.
 
Yet it is Williams’s probing and restless intellect, with its focus on Beethoven’s compositional process, that holds the listener in thrall: clarity goes hand in hand with tenderness; there is spontaneity, even quirkiness, too. Equally absorbing is the affinity for tonal colouring, and Williams’s recent explorations of Wagner have apparently made him even more aware of Beethoven’s harmonic language, its richness and its expressive power. The chromatic progressions both in the opening movement of Op 101 and in the slow introduction to its finale had a breathtaking quality, balanced by the tensile strength of the fugue, which gathers momentum but is always impeccably controlled. 
 
Read the rest of the review here