Frank Stewart/courtesy of the Savannah Music Festival
Fortepianist Kristian Bezuidenhout at the Savannah Music Festival 2011.
Fortepianist Kristian Bezuidenhout at the Savannah Music Festival 2011. Frank Stewart/courtesy of the Savannah Music Festival
Sonata in F Major, K. 332
Fantasie in C minor, K. 396
Sonata in B-flat Major, K. 333
Kristian Bezuidenhout has a passion for what he fondly calls "the old piano" — the fortepiano of Mozart's day, a smaller instrument than the modern one our ears and eyes are accustomed to experiencing.
Bezuidenhout (bih-ZAY-den-hoat) likens his dedication to playing on period instruments as a choice that hovers in spirit somewhere between becoming an indie rocker and joining the CIA. As he once said to me, "early music still feels a little secret and dangerous, with a sense of the forbidden. And having that feeling is really important within early music." That's not a sensibility one often stumbles across among classical musicians, but it seems exactly right coming from this witty, charismatic performer.
Bezuidenhout is a South Africa-born, London-based artist who trained with some of the world's leading early music experts at the Eastman Conservatory of Music. For him there's no better vehicle than the fortepiano for exploring the crisp articulations, keenly articulated characters and pointillistic levels of detail that can get lost inside a modern piano's heft and plushness.
In this recital at the Savannah Music Festival, Bezuidenhout performed three works that Mozart — himself a master player — wrote between 1781 and 1791. To hear this repertoire played with such intellect and finesse on the same kind of instrument on which these works were originally performed, is to hear something really special, whether in the sparkling outer movements of sonatas or more tender and reflective music.
These qualities are savored by Bezuidenhout's fast-growing number of fans, and he's in increasing demand all over the world. Upcoming dates take him to the Mozarteum in Salzburg, London's Wigmore Hall, the Louvre, and a turn as soloist with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. If this is your first encounter with Bezuidenhout's artistry, it most certainly won't be your last.