South Florida Classical Review follows Leif Ove Andsnes’ performance of Debussy’s Fantaisie with the New World Symphony and Michael Tilson Thomas

“The Norwegian pianist Leif Ove Andsnes is that and more. Andsnes is an artist who puts a distinctive stamp on everything he plays. And the Debussy Fantasie needs that kind of artistic salesman to make it work.

“While the score is not an unforgettable masterpiece, it deserves to be played more often. The opening oboe solo of the first movement suggests typical Debussy impressionistic languor but the music soon morphs into a more romantic vein. The fleet-fingered Andsnes conveyed a full range of pianistic colors. A master at sweeping, big-boned whirls of melody and pyrotechnics, he played the Rachmaninoff-like sections at full power. In this stylistic mélange, Tilson Thomas drew opulent playing and brought out Debussy’s kaleidoscopic instrumental timbres. 

“The Lento and Allegro molto finale sound more like Ravel, Debussy’s contemporary. Andsnes’ bursts of tonal heft brought some clarity to the wispy theme of the slow movement (with two harps adding to the orchestral shimmer). The finale is jazzy in the manner of the last movement of Ravel’s Concerto in G Major, written three decades later. Jazz had not even been conceived as a popular art form in the late nineteenth century so Debussy was literally inventing a musical language. Andsnes attacked this final showpiece with virtuosity but also displayed a sensitive touch in a central episode that could have come right out of Debussy’s Preludes.

“A cheering ovation brought Andsnes back for an encore ” Doctor Gradus ad Parnassum” from Debussy’s Children’s Corner Suite. Vigorous, fistfuls of notes and hand crossings at the outset gave way to pearly toned elegance in the lyrical episode. Andsnes’ gradual buildup of the final crescendo was masterful, keeping the pulse and avoiding bombast. This terrific pianist needs to be heard more often in South Florida.”


Source: South Florida Classical Review