Piotr Anderszewski at Carnegie Hall

J S Bach: Partita No 2 in C minor, BWV 826
Schumann: Faschingsschwank aus Wien, op 26
Janacek: In the Mists (V mlhach) (1912)
Beethoven: Sonata No 31 in A flat major, op 110
Bartók: Three Songs from the Csík District, Sz 35a/BB 45b (1907)
Piotr Anderszewski at Carnegie Hall

J S Bach: Partita No 2 in C minor, BWV 826
Schumann: Faschingsschwank aus Wien, op 26
Janacek: In the Mists (V mlhach) (1912)
Beethoven: Sonata No 31 in A flat major, op 110
Bartók: Three Songs from the Csík District, Sz 35a/BB 45b (1907)
CD 1 42.48
1 Applause 0.17
2-7 Johann Sebastian Bach 1685-1750
Partita No.2 in C minor / en ut mineur / c-moll BWV 826 20.13
8-12 Robert Schumann 1810-1856
Faschingsschwank aus Wien (Carnival scenes from Vienna / Carnaval de Vienne) Op.26 22.13

CD 2 41.40
1-4 Leos Janáček 1854-1928
V mlhách (In the mists / Dans les brumes / Im Nebel) 15.48
5-7 Ludwig van Beethoven 1770-1827
Piano Sonata No.31 in A flat major / en la bémol majeur / As-dur Op.110 21.50
8 Encore: Béla Bartók 1881-1945
Three Hungarian Folksongs from the Csík District Sz 35a/BB 45b (1907) 3.58

BBC Music Magazine (May 2009)
A live recording is risky for a pianist who opts to re-play a long work in recital because his first shot wasn't in his view good enough, but this atmospheric event follows its arc with absolute assurance. Piotr Anderszewski employs a small but incisive tone in the Bach Sinfonia, as though he is taking us into his confidence; the Allemande is sweet and unassuming, the Courante has warmth, the Sarabande has rapt expressiveness. As the Partita progresses, the playing becomes more exuberant: the Caprice is pure tumbling energy. This Bach is characterised above all by Anderszewski's wonderful touch - light, precise, and muscular. [...]

Janacek's In the Mists [...] has an exquisite delicacy, which Anderszewski brings out again with his lovely Bartók encore. But Schumann's fanciful Faschingsschwank sees him in coruscating form; the word means 'carnival farce', and that is what we get, with sly comedy, wistfulness, and megawatt dazzle following each other in quick succession across the stage.
Classica (Jul. 2009)
De ce parcours de cime en cime, l'Opus 110 de Ludwig van Beethoven est sans doute l'apex. Mais l'on attendrait une progressive intensification du discours, on a une sorte de décantation, un évidement graduel. Ainsi, de toutes les pièces retenues, la plus martelée, la plus marmoréenne (beethovénienne?), c'est la Partita No 2 de Bach. L'amertume retenue de l'allemande, la découpe élégantissime de la courante, une sarabande aux franges du silence sont interprétées toujours avec une sobriété mâle et altière. Le Carnaval de Vienne de Schumann est d'une densité inhabituelle. Où sébrouent souvent les joueurs et les grands artificiers, Piotr Anderszewski offre des contrastes (cette Romance!) et une gravité rares, mais aussi une puissance arrachant la pièce à toute tentation miniaturiste, et tentant bien plutôt la fresque vive. Janacek nous fait basculer vers des territoires où l'humeur supplante l'architecture. Et c'est de cette conception que semble hériter un Opus 110 mis à nu, réduit à la trame, tout de retenue et de pudeur - sans mollesse ni délitement, jamais. L'humain l'emporte sur le surhumain, l'humilité sur la sublimité. Des amuïssements presque impalpables ne rompant pas le fil d'un lyrisme secret font résonner l'écho de Bach, avec dans l'affect une fêlure, comme une nostalgie, admirablement suggérée. Fort beau bis, dont le seul tort est de ne pas laisser le dernier mot à Beethoven.
Daily Telegraph (May 2009)
With Piotr Anderszewski poised to give a rare London solo recital at the Southbank on June 9, this two-disc set provides a captivating reminder and foretaste of the intellectual power, profound emotional response and keen imagination that his playing conveys. The programme was recorded at New York's Carnegie Hall last December, when, as the applause testifies, it went down a storm.

Two works he performed then - Beethoven's late A flat Sonata Op 110 and Janacek's In the Mists - are also scheduled for London. Both interpretations are riveting. The intimate narratives of the Janacek are achingly poignant, the shrouded, wistful atmosphere punctuated with sharp stabs of pain and surges of passion. Anderszewski's remarkable ear for tonal shading and nuance is absorbingly to the fore here, as it is in the Beethoven sonata, which he performs with exceptional intensity. He balances the quiet communing of the first movement and the third movement's hushed adagio with the fiery energy of the second's allegro molto. So acute is the positioning of the microphones that the force of his playing here and in the mighty fugal statements of the finale makes an emphatic, physical impact. But Anderszewski's command of perspective is paramount. The soft playing is mesmerising, the scope of his interpretation geared to probing deep into the music's inner expressive tissues.

To Bach's C minor Partita BWV826 he brings rigour and fantasy, lightness and lucidity, the counterpoint articulated not in a didactic way but spryly, as if it were fun to play. Schumann's Faschingsschwank aus Wien shows his romantic spirit and his instincts for drama and poetry. This is an outstanding release that ought to give anyone an appetite for next month's recital.

Classical CD of the Week by Geoffrey Norris (Five stars)
Gramophone (July 2009)
Janacek's In the Mists is given a peach of a performance, a sense of improvisation sitting securely at its heart. Each movement tells its own very personal story, or seems to, the third alternating idyll with searing drama. If you need convincing of Anderszewski's interpretative genius beam up to 1'30" into the final movement where a lamenting oration prompts flooding cascades. [...T]his is an exceptional recital, and as ever the Carnegie Hall acoustic allows for a luminous piano tone. The folky Bartók encore is pure delight.

(Editor's Choice)
Observer (May 2009)
The Polish-Hungarian pianist, who once fled from the stage because he considered his performance less than perfect, has earned a reputation for excitement and intensity, as this two-disc live concert from New York's Carnegie Hall shows. In Bach's Partita No 2 in C minor, he plays with warm expression, using all the possibilities of a concert grand, yet miraculously avoiding anachronism. His late Beethoven, Sonata No 31 in A flat, Op 110, has earthy tenderness, opening at a steady tempo which prepares beautifully for the serenity and majesty to come. Schumann's "Faschingsschwank", Janacek and Bartok complete this captivating recital.
The Guardian (May 2009)
It's a surprise to find a pianist as famously self-critical and fastidious as Piotr Anderszewski sanctioning the CD release of a live recital. Yet just a few bars of any one of the works in this programme, recorded at Carnegie Hall in New York last December, is enough to show why he has been persuaded to give it wider circulation. From the opening Sinfonia of Bach's second Partita to the last of Bartók's Three Hungarian Folksongs from the Csik District, Anderszewski plays with extraordinary, compelling intensity. The Bach is wonderfully poised and crystalline, rhythms picked out with diamond precision, textures perfectly transparent. It is followed by an account of Schumann's Faschingsschwank aus Wien that is just about the best on disc: passages that can sometimes seem overwrought and overwritten are swept into exuberant outpourings of energy. [...] [T]his is playing of exceptional insight and finesse, which few other pianists today could match.

(Five stars)
The Times (Jun. 2009)
Live commercial recordings of piano recitals have always been rare, usually reserved for the celebrated names of the keyboard: Rubinstein, Richter, Horowitz, Gilels.

This one, given by one of today's least-hyped but most enlightening pianists just less than a year ago, was clearly a special occasion, one that vouchsafes Anderszewski's reputation as both a formidable technician and an interpreter of outstanding musical taste and insight.

The programme is as intriguing as it is various: Bach's Partita No 2 in C minor, followed by Schumann's Faschingsschwank aus Wien (Carnival Jest from Vienna), Janacek's 1912 In the Mists (his last work for solo piano) and Beethoven's Sonata in A flat major, Op 110.

The writer of the booklet makes no attempt to find a thread linking these works, but Anderszewski seems concerned to show how the Bach, Schumann and Janacek sequences of piano pieces could be heard as virtual sonatas, while the Beethoven sonata stretches the form to embrace a backward glance at the Bachian suite. Anderszewski's Bach is brilliantly articulated, with bracing tempi for the fast movements and a deeply felt inward reverence for the beautiful Sarabande. In Schumann's Carnival Jest, Anderszewski's glittering technique is never merely showy, but always in the service of the yearning core of the music. Late Janacek and Beethoven might seem odd bedfellows, but not in Anderszewski's masterly hands.

The audience is rapturous, coaxing out of the pianist a thrilling and rare account of Bartók's Three Hungarian Folksongs from the Csík district.

(Five stars)