Soviet Union was undoubtedly the land which “produced” the largest number of first importance female pianists: Maria Yudina, Tatiana Nikolayeva, Viktoria Postnikova, Elisabeth Leonskaja, Eliso Virsaladze, Ludmila Berlinskaja to name but a few.
Leonskaja was in recital at the TCE in a program that was supposed to be Schubert only, but she had planned some surprises.
The first piece was Sonata No. 3 D. 459: it was a chance to hear such a great performer in one of the early sonatas which are far too neglected today.
She then addressed the audience explaining that she would play Arnold Schoenberg’s “6 Little Piano Pieces”, Op.19, and what a performance that was!
Then back to Franz Schubert, with the famous “Wanderer-Fantasie”. This piece is also rather rare in the concert hall, probably because it is so demanding. Elisabeth Leonskaja gave an outstanding performance of the work.
After a well deserved pause, she announced a second surprise: Anton Webern’s “Variations Op. 27”. Again a great performance, even though she had to struggle with the score which would not stay in place.
The last work was Schubert’s last Sonata, D. 960. I have heard it many times over the last years by a long list of top pianists, and her interpretation was among the very best.
Even though I have observed that ex-Soviet musicians are extremely generous, I was doubting she would play any encore, having played Schoenberg and Webern. But she did give 2 superb encores: the 1st piece of the “Klavierstücke D. 946”, and “Impromptu D. 899 No. 3”.
And she then made herself available for a signing session!