EIF 2015: Mitsuko Uchida in Recital, The Usher Hall, Review

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Edinburgh International Festival
Mitsuko Uchida
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Dame Mitsuko Uchida was the pianist in this recital of compositions by Schubert and Beethoven. A world renowned classical pianist, she chose to play Beethoven’s 33 Variations on a Waltz by Diabelli and a selection of Schubert Impromptus.

Schubert composed the Impromtus for solo piano in 1827, a year before he died. There are a total of eight, in two sets of four pieces, and Uchida played the first set. They are fine examples of music from the Romantic era, but the compositions themselves vary enormously in style.

The first, second and fourth Impromptus - in C minor, E flat major and A flat major - are challenging pieces requiring technical brilliance which Uchida amply displayed, particularly in the E flat major which she played at an amazing rate.

By contrast, the third – in G flat major – requires a sympathetic, sensitive touch which she accomplished quite beautifully.

Beethoven’s 33 Variations on a Waltz by Diabelli, known as the Diabelli Variations, were composed at a similar time – between 1819 and 1823. They have been described as “a microcosm of Beethoven’s art”. Technically, in every way, the pieces are very demanding and and Uchida’s skill was outstandingly demonstrated.