BILLED as An Afternoon With Christian Zacharias, the East Neuk Festival could have added to this title, "in a B-minor mood".
Because this piano recital from their featured artist majored on keys – their meaning and relationship to each other. And as Zacharias, pictured, explained, B-minor is a particularly special key, the bleak tone of which "even rock musicians understand," he said, citing Queen.
And so, encouraged to meditate on the rare sound world of this key, in which very few composers write anything at all, the faithful East Neuk audience duly bowed their heads, and concentrated.
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First of all, there was a Scarlatti sandwich to chew on – two renditions of his Sonata in B-minor around Brahms's Rhapsody No 1, in the same key.
Zacharias made the joins between these works seamless. The pedal was not even cleared to full silence in between, so that sound rang from one century's B-minor into the other's. Indeed, Zacharias favours a continual flow in his music.
Sometimes it feels like a steamroller coming over the music towards you, but the lines are very smooth, and you can't help but give in to the current.
We had two encores, one to each half of the recital, both of which linked satisfyingly either forwards or backwards to the programme's themes.
After so much dark B-minor in the first half, it was a relief to wander around with Schubert in some new keys in the second half, through his Moments Musicaux Op 94 and the Impromptu No 4.
But the first half had done the trick – our ears now heard everything in keys.
It was enlightening and provoking – a masterly presentation.
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