Good Lord. Did Andreas Haefliger have a plane to catch after his Queen's Hall recital on Saturday morning? The Swiss-born pianist went through Beethoven's Hammerklavier Sonata like a bat out of hell, in terms of speed, and like a flaming Sherman tank in terms of blunt power and unstoppable momentum.
I suppose it's partly Beethoven's fault. In this most incredible and unprecedented of piano sonatas the composer heaved what remained of the rule book, which he had been shredding throughout his life, out of the window and pushed everything - musical concepts and structures, orthodox expression and the stamina and technical ability of players - to previously unknown extremes.
Of course, today's superhuman virtuoso pianists can play anything at any speed. And there is absolutely no denying that Andreas Haefliger's lightning delivery of the two outer movements of the Hammerklavier was so exciting it was absolutely electrifying. But it wasn't so much his speed that alarmed, as what he did with that mighty opening theme as Beethoven developed it: forgive the expression, but the pianist sank his teeth into it like a pit bull terrier and almost shook it to bits.
The slow movement was clumsy and dragging, and, throughout, there was too much splashy playing. But the most irritating and persistent feature of the performances of both the Beethoven and Schubert's G Major Sonata in the first half was Haefliger's habit of vocalising as he plays. He doesn't actually break into song, but he buzzes along vocally with the music; and it's infuriating. He's a very intense player, so maybe he's unaware of it. Someone should tell him.