Schubert: Four Impromptus, D 935
Franck: Prélude, Chorale, and Fugue
Debussy: Préludes, Book II
Sometimes it is hard to figure out what the right decision is, and then life gives you this extra little push that suddenly makes everything crystal clear. Way back last summer when I was building my Carnegie Hall season, I had noticed the Radu Lupu recital, which included my beloved Préludes by Debussy, in the end of January. Not knowing the exact timing of my trip to Spain, I had prudently held off. Later, the trip was planned and my return scheduled for the evening before the concert, so I reluctantly decided to pass.
But then I received a comp ticket offer while busily touring Madrid and decided that I had to reconsider. After my friend Linden agreed to come along and give me a little nudge if necessary, we were at Carnegie Hall on Thursday night. After all, the best way to get back into a routine is just to get back into a routine, right?
The Four Impromptus by Schubert were a lovely, if not particularly imaginative, opening number. Subtly contrasted and gently flowing, they efficiently soothed my body and soul and helped me overcome the shock of a full workday after two weeks of hedonistic life in Spain.
Franck's impeccably luminous Violin Sonata became a favorite of mine as soon as I heard it, and while no other works of his has ever managed to match the intensity of this coup de foudre, I was looking forward to hearing his Prélude, Chorale, and Fugue for the first time in such knowledgeable company. Verdict: A nicely interconnected work covering a wide range of sounds while steadily sustaining a discreet touch of elegance. It did not rock my world, but it is definitely on the "Approved" list.
As Debussy's Préludes were getting closer, my energy was slowly fading away, and by the time they came around, I am afraid my attention span was no longer what it should have been. But I still very much enjoyed those attractive little snippets as I let them flow over me, inconspicuously evocative and delightfully harmonious. Radu Lupu's famous idiosyncratic ways kept those vignettes constantly interesting while still remaining easily accessible, which was exactly what my slowly weakening state needed.
The encore was a diaphanous little treat that concluded the evening on a soft note, before the icy cold outside brought us all back to a biting reality and kept me awake long enough to easily find my way home.