Ez történt

Farewell and arrival

2005. 02. 17.

Zoltán Kocsis assembled an unusual programme with the National Philharmonic Orchestra. Between two popular numbers (Dukas: The Sourcerer's Apprentice; Debussy: La Mer) he placed a pair of barely known works (Richard Strauss: Burlesque for Piano and Orchestra; Gabriel Fauré: Ballada for piano and orchestra) into a sandwich.

As a filling, the French pianist, Michel Dalberto expressed his gratitude but felt horribly unwell: even with the first chord he looked ill, and whenever he found himself with spare hands, he clung desperately to his instrument while repeatedly wiping his perspiring forehead. During the interval, your faithful reporter learned that in the afternoon, the artist had been battling a temperature of 40 degrees and he needed an injection before he was in concert shape. Dalberto proved an excellent patient, he played the piano fantastically with unbounding energy, unbelievable virtuosity and to all intents and perfectly. Strauss wrote this work at the age of twenty one, it is rather aimless, but Dalberto conjured from this hair-raisingly difficult solo every conceivable colour, feeling and mood. Dalberto's piano tone is brilliant: he directed the piano strings, tuned to breaking point, to a wondrous resonance with his immense hands, which were particularly suitable for the playing of octave passages: in this area, he produced a quite unique sound, rather like a machine gun. After the interval, he demonstrated his subtle but never precious artistry in the Fauré piece: he was emotional but never over the top. As an encore he gave us Ravel's Ondine from Gaspard de la nuit, with miraculously mixed colours, showing himself to be quite a charmer: anyone in his physical condition is truly being polite to choose such a difficult work. In summation: Dalberto is ultimately still a a “clavier hussar” (to quote J. S. Bach): it was instructive to see him after hearing Alfred Brendel the week before (See Magyar Narancs Feburary 10,  2005). Brendel is a great artist, Dalberto “only” a pianist, true a stunningly talented one. By contrast, even as an adolescent, Zoltán Kocsis was more than a mere keyboard player and now as a conductor, is increasingly important. We could see clearly in Dukas's work, often regarded as bloated salon music, just how deadly seriously Kocsis takes every note of the score. The music became increasingly demonic, sometimes prophesising certain Bartókian shadows. La Mer was a quite different level of performance, in the second half (The play of the waves) it transpired just how grotesque the great impressionist Debussy could be, in the third (Dialogue between wind and sea) how these elements are truly threatening, indeed sometimes murderous. With this concert, we must bid farewell to the Music Academy for a while as it prepares for renovation.

András Csont
(Magyar Narancs, February 17, 2005)