Glasgow City Halls
The Times, Fiona Bain
Anyone whose curiosity was piqued by Ivo Kahánek´s first performance with the BBC SSO on Thursday had another chance to catch the Czech in action yesterday. It certainly made for a satisfying sequel, as this recital was varied and beautifully presented, an excellent vehicle for Kahanek´s emotionally intelligent playing and highly personal approach to works from his native soil. He got his audience on side with a playful rendition of Mozart´s C major Sonata, giving the piece effervescent grace and beginning on a humorous note. But he also knew how to balance the lighter, central European fare with more troubled works from his homeland. This was exemplified by the different era and mood of the following piece, Klein´s desolate Piano Sonata, composed in a Nazi concentration camp. It was brave to take such a chronological leap so early but Kahanek carried the atonal intensity through with blazing dynamic contrasts and a rhythmic tautness. Janacek´s 1st October 1905, written to mark the death of a rioter, had a more tender character, but Kahanek did not sacrifice intensity, articulating the expansive folk melodies with a smooth and mellifluous tone. He continued his riff on a national theme with a nostalgic Sonata by Martinu, which was assertive but enigmatic. Rounded off by a powerhouse performance of Schumann´s Symphonic Etudes, he demonstrated deep musical insight and displayed versatility and virtuosity in equal, compelling measure.