Elisabeth Leonskaja was playing Beethoven’s last 3 piano sonatas at the Philharmonie.
As most great Russian pianists, she has a different way to play Beethoven from the “Western” approach of, let’s say, German, Austrian, French, Italian or American pianists. Not better, not less good, just different.
She played them in the logical chronological order, starting with Sonata op. 109: what a remarkable 3rd movement, Andante molto cantabile ed espressivo, with all the cantabile and expressiveness required.
Then to Sonata op. 110, and again an outstanding 3rd movement, the Adagio with the fugue. As mentioned above, Russian pianists playing Beethoven often have a surprise in store. When the Fugue returned, she kind of cut some of the voices (like lopping off some of the voices at some points).
Last was op. 111, with its 2 extraordinary movements, which she played with bravura (1st movement, Maestoso – Allegro con brio ed appassionato) and again perfect cantabile (Arietta: Adagio molto semplice e cantabile).
Elisabeth Leonskaja returned for an encore, making a sign to the audience that it would be a small one. She played Robert Schumann’s Aria from his 1st Sonata, just to return and give 2 more encores! First an admirable version of Schubert’s Impromptu op. 90 No. 3, then the adorable but strangely melancholic Adagio of Mozart’s 12th Sonata.