Dejan Lazic (piano)

Art Gallery of W.A.

reviewed by Neville Cohn

If there had been disappointment at pianist Dejan Lazic’s first appearance in Perth (in ensemble with the Kuss Quartet) due to less than flattering acoustics, he scaled Olympus at his solo recital days later, a many-splendoured affair that crowned a fortnight of performances in PIAF’s Wigmore Chamber Music series.

An all-Beethoven first half offered Variations on God Save the King of which Lazic made much with kaleidoscopic tonal colourings and a lift to the phrase that would surely have coaxed even the most taciturn bird from a twig.

This curtainraising delight gave way to Beethoven on a considerably loftier plain. Here, Lazic proved himself a poet of the piano, exploring, with the instincts of a born musician, the subtleties that make opus 110 the towering achievement that it is. I cannot readily recall so satisfying a reading.

Whether floating dandelion-delicate figurations into the auditorium, producing exquisite pianissimo shadings or giving point and meaning to some of the most elusive fugal writing in the repertoire, Lazic was master of the moment. True, there was some blurring in the opening moments of the second movement but, in relation to the performance as a whole, this reduces to the status of a quibble.

Liszt’s piano music occupies a very different world to that of Beethoven but Lazic was no less at home in it, not least in Canzone where extended, near-perfectly spun trills were only one of a myriad features that made magic of the music. Gondoleria, with its extravagant flourishes, can so easily descend into schmaltz so it is much to his credit that Lazic ignored the temptation to succumb to vulgarity, instead giving an account that was in the best sense bravura but invariably within the bounds of good taste.

The Tarantella, given astoundingly virtuosic treatment, provided incontrovertible evidence that for sheer digital nimbleness and accuracy at top speed, Lazic is better than most and second to few. And the lightness of touch that informed much of the playing here was a fine foil for the very much grittier works of Bartok.

In Six Dances in Bulgarian Rhythm from Mikrokosmos, Lazic proved himself a worthy interpreter, seeming positively to relish the challenge of tricky metrical gear changes that have defeated many a lesser pianist. And Bartok’s Three Rondos, with their jarring dissonances leavened by moments of gentle insight made for bracing listening, too.

As encores, Lazic played two Chopin waltzes. The so-called Minute Waltz could hardly be faulted, with rapid passagework like strings of perfectly matched pearls. But in the no-less-celebrated Waltz in E minor, opus posthumous this young pianist showed signs of tiredness; this was as a good a point as any to bring the curtain down on the recital as well on as on PIAF’s Wigmore Chamber Music series.

Before the recital and during the interval, concertgoers were able to view three paintings by Edvard Munch, typically redolent of the Norwegian painters sombre view of life, as well as what seemed a yellow floor stain but which turned out to be Wolfgang Laib’s Pollen from Hazelnut.

Copyright 2005 Neville Cohn

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