Today’s listening: Nikolai Lugansky, a live recital given in August 2002. Brahms, Klavierstucke op. 118. Wonderful performance as ever, full of life, and within the spirit of the composer. Did not particularly warm to his rendering of the final intermezzo though – I found that there was something missing of the profound sadness and depth which penetrates this intensely personal moment of late Brahms.
I remember playing this particular Intermezzo (op.118 no 6) for my diploma exams, back in 1997. It was such a difficult thing to bring out the feeling of loneliness and desolation that is expressed in the melodic line. I played it then (cannot remember how it went) and never attempted to tackle it again. I think it’s one of these pieces that persuade me that the piano is undoubtedly the most difficult instrument of all. To bring out correctly the melody of op.118/6 from a massive ‘piece of furniture’ (I mean the piano) that faces you, seems to me enough to prove the statement.