Andreas Haefliger, Wigmore Hall, review: 'quiet beauty and thundering power'

12.04.15
The Telegraph

Even more than many musicians, Andreas Haefliger has made Beethoven central to this thinking. And, by a curious coincidence, on Thursday night on a dimly-lit Wigmore Hall platform, this questing Swiss pianist actually seemed bear a resemblance to traditional images of Beethoven, his mop of greying curls covering a furrowed brow. Haefliger would be ideal casting for a Beethoven bio-pic, but it would have to be a serious film, for he is a very serious artist.

That showed again in this latest, all-too-rare appearance of his in London, part of his ongoing “Perspectives on Beethoven” series. There was nothing in the programme to explain Haefliger’s thinking, but even though only one of the works was by Beethoven the composer was still a constant presence: listeners had to make their own connections, the clues being in Beethoven as one of music’s great points of arrival and departure.

Haefliger found this quiet beauty and supplied thundering power elsewhere. Brahms may have meant the finale’s quotation from the opera Fidelio to be a tribute to the Schumanns, yet it added another Beethoven perspective here.

Haefliger’s tone is big for Mozart, but there was no lack of poise in the Adagio in B minor, K 540, a late and anguished outpouring that certainly points towards Beethoven. One of Mozart’s most desolate works in one of his least frequently used keys, it fitted well here, just as Bartók’s Out of Doors Suite was bound, for all its muscular modernity, to recall the spirit of Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony. Haefliger had virtuosity to spare, and in his encore of Liszt’s Légende No. 1 (“St Francis Preaching to the Birds”) tied several more threads together, looking back across the Hungarian Plain towards Beethoven. 
Read the rest of the review here