Amir Katz: piano playing at its highest reaches
Amir Katz’s mastery of the piano is internationally beyond dispute. This notwithstanding, the Israeli virtuoso is also known for concert projects that are little short of madly daring, marked by more or less encyclopaedic aspiration – ordeals such as one hardly takes on today. And it is his seeming ability to tackle such mammoth projects with charming effortlessness that makes the man so exceptional and winsome. Katz’s playing of the full cycle of Frédéric Chopin’s Etudes op. 10 and op. 25 as well as his garnishing it with Johann Sebastian Bach’s English Suite and Prelude in E flat minor and Fugue in D sharp minor from the first part of the Well-Tempered Clavier on Thursday in the Mendelssohnsaal of the Gewandhaus lines up splendidly with such projects. Whoever failed to attend missed one of the most outstanding recitals of this year. Katz plays a brilliant and thoughtful Chopin at a technically extraordinary level, confirming himself as a painter of soundscapes on the keys, and with such naturalness that even for the absolute connoisseur, a completely new Chopin emerges – this may have to do with the coherence of its figuration. Brilliantly, the musician looks for connections between the movements and compositions – he creates a perfect transition between Bach’s Fugue and the first Etude op. 25, making an epic concert out of the collection of pieces, one in which he knows full well where one can continue spinning the thread, where one can accentuate the dramaturgical disruption. This is piano playing at its highest reaches.