For the last concert of the “piano solo” series of this season on Friday, Amir Katz gave a guest performance in the district capital Olpe. Quite an extraordinary program did he bring: all of Chopin’s 21 “Nocturnes”. This promised a relaxing and yet enthralling evening full of Romance.
The particular difficulty in rendering such cycles lies both in placing each of the individual pieces in their own light and in pulling them together as a whole under a single umbrella. Katz knows what he has taken on. Meticulous studies in scoring and a knowledge of Chopin’s letters have acquainted the pianist well with Chopin.
The famed “Nocturne” (“Night Piece”) No. 1. in B Minor heralded in the series with a worthy start. It introduced early an essential feature of the “Nocturnes”: these are quite intimate pieces. Scarce are effervescent or virtuoso passages. Katz then also continued with, very cautiously, the first “Nocturnes”, thereby introducing his very gentle, smooth style of playing. In doing so, he nevertheless sketched out clear contours of the individual pieces. That which in turn held the entire cycle together however was the inner tension that Katz himself rekindled between the “Nocturnes”.
Quiet reverence alternated here with a glimmer of hope and occasionally gleeful melody – a mixture of clang and tasteful embellishments. The sobriety of the last “Nocturne” (No. 21 in C Minor, op. posth. “Funeral March”) immersed everything once more into a yearning light that reminded one again of the beginning, from start to finish full of lyricism. At the end, there was a hearty applause for the artist, who thereupon treated his audience to two encores.
A worthy conclusion, certainly the highlight of this year’s series. Serenaded into a winter sleep with the 21 “Nocturnes”, “piano solo” can anxiously look forward to next year’s concerts.