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!