Picks and Pans Review: Schoenberg: Three Piano Pieces, Op. 11; Schubert: Piano Sonata in a Minor, D. 845
If Alexander Lonquich lives as long and ages as magnificently as Horowitz and Rubinstein, we could be hearing from him for the next half century or more. Lonquich is that young—just 22—and potentially that good. He received his first lessons from his father, a church musician, at age 6. At 8, he was studying with a professional in Cologne, West Germany, 103 miles from his home in Trier; at 15, he made his concert debut; at 17, he took first prize at a major international competition in Italy, the Alessandro Casagrande. None of these accomplishments is unique—equally precocious artists abound around the world; nor do they guarantee future brilliance. But this debut on Deutsche Grammophon's mid-price Concours label, which introduces promising soloists, indicates that Lonquich (19 when he made the record) has something to say and the technique to say it. His Schoenberg is oddly romantic. In this early atonal work, he finds a lush beauty in the delicate passages and brings brash percussive strength to the bigger chord clusters. This interpretation may obscure the exploratory nature of the music, but it's captivating. The Schubert sonata (published in 1826) is 35 minutes long and as bold as it is charming. It fuses hints of Beethoven's imperious architecture with the younger composer's unique melodic reveries. Lonquich brings forth both. His performance is robust, ingenuous, rousing.