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Zoltán Kocsis’s concert

2002. 10. 17.

Zoltán Kocsis, who performed as both conductor and pianist alongside the National Philharmonic Orchestra, gave a concert of extraordinary importance on October 9th at the Music Academy. Its significance was because Kocsis again performed Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 4 in G major. Those who have followed his career will remember that Kocsis first recording made at the age of 18 was his interpretation of this work, following his first prize at the Radio's Beethoven competition. He must have had every reason to be satisfied with it, but later he withdrew this recording and has refused permission for it to be remastered for CD. He has now demonstrated just why. Kocsis produced a truly awe-inspiring performance this evening. He played (and conducted) this masterpiece with remarkable wildness; his new image of Beethoven is one of uncompromising jaggedness. This was especially audible in the second movement, when he made the strings play entirely “non legato”, clashing with their wild gestures against the imploring tone of the piano. In the third movement, he approached the score from a Bartókian perspective. And yet in the evidently improvised candenza of the first movement, he still had time to joke: during its closing trill, Kocsis held the eye of the principal violin for long seconds, before finally giving the sign for the orchestral entry. The audience were ecstatic and received this fantastic production with wild applause.

In the second half, he conducted Mozart, first one of the Master's most unusual works (the Masonic Funeral Music K 447), although it is not obvious if this work is really suited for concert performance: it was almost impossible to applause after this ineffable transcendental (and to a degree “post-modern”) music. Then came the late period masterpiece, the Symphony in E flat major K 543, in which again we experienced Kocsis's grand avoidance of the Romantic heritage, presenting the work drily as if he had never heard it before. In this concept, the second movement was especially convincing.

– csont – [Csont András]
(Magyar Narancs, 17th October 2002.)