It is a mystery how anyone can play as beautifully as Valentina Lisitsa – and as downright shockingly.
In the opening of Rachmaninov’s third piano concerto and much of the slow movement, she produced lovely sounds from the specially-imported Steinway. But at the end it could have been forgiven for throwing itself off the stage (if it had the strength), such a battering did she give it.
Her technique is sufficient to enable her to play the notes but not to produce depth of tone at anything above mezzo-forte, with the result that much of the music sounded brittle to the point of ugliness. I winced at several moments of attack.
Although principal conductor Kirill Karabits fired up the BSO to solid effect, both were probably happier in orchestral excerpts from Wagner operas. But even there some sloppiness marred the playing before the Prelude And Liebestod from Tristan And Isolde brought a higher level of concentration and intensity, achieving a powerful sense of fulfilment in death. I expect better when the orchestra returns on October 24.