Franz Schubert, Impromptu in C minor, D 899/1
Joseph Haydn, Sonata in C, Hob XVI 50
Ludwig van Beethoven, Sonata in E, opus 109
Fryderyk Chopin, Nocturnes, opus 62
Franz Schubert, Sonata in C minor, D 958

James Lisney has the seemingly paradoxical ability to make pillars of the repertoire ‘his own’ while remaining dutiful to the composers’ intentions. The word, ‘clarity’ kept springing to mind when deciding how to describe this performance; not just for the precision with which the musical textures were realised, but for the cohesive musical thought-processes that underpinned the whole programme.

In the Haydn, Lisney employed an almost Chopin-esque rubato in some passages, with compelling effect. The musical witticisms which are scattered throughout the sonata were charmingly highlighted.

The 4th movement of the Schubert sonata was performed as a tumultuous gallop with full commitment, to the extent that the passage that concludes the exposition (and is heard again just before the final page) was played in a way I hadn’t heard before. Most performers take the opportunity to ease into something a little calmer here, but Lisney maintained the driving momentum, which I found pleasantly convincing. It’s a movement that can feel ‘too long’ in the wrong hands, and there was certainly no danger of that here!

James introduced the pieces charismatically, earnestly conveying what he loved about the music, and giving the audience an additional perspective to their listening.

We very much hope that CODA will get to hear the next in this series of explorations of late masterpieces.

James Lisney, Sunday 6th Oct, 2019