Reviews

Diana Boyle breathes fresh life into Mozart’s piano sonatas on a new release from Divine Art

Pianist Diana Boyle www.dianaboyle.com was born in London and educated at St Paul’s Girls' School and as a Foundation Scholar at the Royal College of Music. In 1970 she continued her studies under Enrique Barenboim in Tel Aviv and, in 1973, was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to study with Artur Balsam in New York.

After making her London recital debut in 1979 she gave concerts in the USA, Canada, Spain, Portugal and England. She also taught piano and chamber music in London and in the USA. In 1987, Diana Boyle was invited to make a series of recordings for National Public Radio in Boston, including performances of the Bach Partitas. In 1990 Diana Boyle returned to the Bach Partitas, recording this time at Forde Abbey in Dorset, England for Integra Records.

Since then Diana Boyle has recorded Bach’s Well Tempered Clavier Book 2 for Metier (MSVCD 2002) and Bach’s Art of Fugue for Divine Art (dda 25097).

Now from Divine Art Recordings www.divine-art.co.uk/DAhome.htm comes a 2 CD release of piano sonatas by Mozart.

Diana Boyle opens Disc 1 with Mozart’s Piano Sonata in C major, K.279 providing a lovely clarity to the Allegro, assisted enormously by the wonderfully clear and detailed recording. She brings the feeling of discovery, new delights at every turn, wonderfully phrased, finding new ways to explore this music. There is a quite exquisite, thoughtful Andante, intimate in its gentle delicate beauty and a wonderfully, finely pointed, rhythmic Allegro, again beautifully shaped and often with a rather nonchalant spring to her playing, finding many little details.

The Allegro of the Piano Sonata in G major, K.283 brings a wonderfully intimate performance with a lovely flow, finely phrased with some exquisite little details where every note is finely shaped. The Andante slowly reveals Mozart’s well constructed phrases with a beautifully judged tempo, finding every nuance. There is a terrific rhythmic spring to the Presto yet observing every little variation of tempo and dynamic. There are passages of fine Mozartian forward drive but always with terrific clarity before a wonderful conclusion to this sonata.

Diana Boyle brings a jewel like, delicate purity to the Allegro moderato of the Piano Sonata in C major, K.330. Such clarity allows every little turn and harmonic shift to be clearly heard. There is a gloriously drawn Andante cantabile with this pianist finding a subtly poignant emotion as she very slowly reveals Mozart’s lovely creation. Finally there is a nice, crisp Allegretto with some finely done left hand phrases, wonderfully fluent yet with a clear and crisp rhythm.

Boyle brings some fine dramatic phrases to launch the Molto allegro of the Piano Sonata in C minor, K.457, her clarity and purity still adding so much, a lovely delicate fluency with some richer textures at times. The Adagio of this sonata is probably the slowest and most idiosyncratic of all, often stretching Mozart’s ideas to the extreme, yet revealing so much in its beautifully shaped form, almost as though the composer is sitting at the piano trying out ideas. It certainly builds a mesmerising intensity. The Allegro assai picks up a fine tempo with some wonderfully fluent phrases, rolling forward through passages that are finely shaped and phrased with a rubato, before finding some moments of quiet repose before the coda.

Disc: 2 opens with the Piano Sonata in B flat major, K.281 and an Allegro that brings a forward rolling fluency before picking up Mozart’s lovely rhythmic theme. There is such exquisite care of dynamics and phrasing and again that pin point clarity. This pianist brings an nicely shaped opening to the Andante amoroso, Boyle finding every little detail with terrific phrasing and dynamics, soon finding a gentle flow with subtle little variations of rhythm and tempo. The Rondeau: Allegro has a lovely tempo, never rushed, allowing Mozart’s every detail to emerge.

Diana Boyle carefully develops the Adagio of the Piano Sonata in E flat major, K.282, slowly gaining in tempo to achieve a wonderfully crystalline flow. Menuetto I has a lovely rhythmic skip, Boyle’s light touch bringing a rather special quality, clear and crisp. Menuetto II achieves more of a flow yet still with some quite lovely rhythmic variations. The Allegro has a good forward moving flow with some fine harmonies revealed by this pianist.

The Rondo, K.494 was first performed alone in 1786, whereas the Allegro and Andante, K.533 followed in 1788. Mozart joined the pieces with an expanded K.494 to form the Piano Sonata in F major. The Allegro (K.533) has a faltering rising and falling flow, this pianist finding some lovely phrases with passages of increased dynamic contrast. The Andante (K.533) slowly reveals passages of fine beauty as this pianist slowly develops this exquisite movement with some most lovely phrases as she teases out many lovely Mozartian ideas. She concluded with a crisp, rhythmically pointed Rondeau: Allegretto (K.494) bringing a wonderful clarity with a lovely subtle, delicate flow, revealing this to be a real jewel.

The Allegro of the Piano Sonata in B flat major, K.570 has a lovely slow introduction before finding a rhythmic poise with this pianist’s phrasing, use of dynamics and varied tempi revealing so any lovely facets. She brings gravity to the Adagio, each note carefully considered with moments of light and gentle rhythmic bounce, quite exquisitely done. She brings her really fine crisp and buoyant playing to the Allegretto with some lovely left hand phrases.

Diana Boyle breathes fresh life into these sonatas. It is true that occasionally her approach is rather idiosyncratic but always supremely musical. Those who expect their Mozart to be more muscular will want to look elsewhere but for me this is not what these sonatas are about. These fine performances take a welcome place on my shelves.

She receives an excellent recording full of detail and presence, with her piano tone perfectly caught. There are notes in the form of an interview with the pianist.

5 Start amazon RatingBruce Reader (The Classical Reviewer)
May 2016

This came out in May and it’s been played a lot — it’s very relaxing on Press day as deadlines loom — and we assumed we’d given it a glowing review. Oops, sadly not.

It’s a lovely CD. Boyle makes the music sound fresh yet soothing. As with much gentle solo piano music of a certain ilk, it put us in mind of Glenn Gould’s Goldberg Variations; in this case it’s particularly apt given the fragility of the music and her use of silence. In the sleeve notes she says she did not listen to other people’s performances of the sonatas, with the exception of Gould, she favouring his iconoclastic approach. Like Gould, Boyle dislikes “pianism”, saying the music is more important than flashy playing, and this collection has a simplicity that probably reflects this. She also approaches her pieces as music, not just rows of notes written down on paper.

Mozart wrote these sonatas in the 1770s when the piano was in its infancy, which possibly explains why her understated approach works, and she says in the notes that the music is too fragile for the piano.

There doesn’t seem much point in listing the pieces, which are all piano sonatas and identifiable only by the Köchel number. You don’t really pay heed to the tracks anyway, as the sound is similar and you will listen to the album all the way through. There appears to be recognition of this fact in the sleeve notes, which take the form of an interview with Boyle about her approach to playing the pieces rather than detailed analysis. It’s Mozart, played well: what more do you need to know?

This double CD is out now on Divine Art, dda21227.

The Chronicle (Congleton) Aug 2016

Bach's The Art of Fugue was the climax of his technical skills and, with his usual combination of musical richness and instrumental knowledge, the composer achieved another masterpiece.

When the modern piano took control, the music changed. Pianist Diana Boyle well understands Bach's sixteen Contrapuncti, which, step-by-step, created The Art of Fugue as music beyond belief, even beyond the reach of the 21st century.

Bach's music, Boyle said in a recent interview, 'is not piano music' and, when she plays Bach, she 'is often thinking of the violin, not least in the variety of articulation which the violin is capable of.'

Of the three [Bach] recordings featured here, Boyle's CD captivates me most. She has made a very good performance and understands the nature of the music, but most of all, she is genuine.

MUSIC AND VISION
George Balcombe
January 2012

Amazon 5-Star Review

I think this is a compelling - absolutely compelling - performance. Like an experienced teacher guiding one to see previously unnoticed ideas and details, or symmetries and asymmetries in a complex piece of architecture, Diana Boyle helps the listener understand intellectually and feel emotionally the intense life within one of Bach's most thoughtful and astringent pieces of writing. And she makes that astringency feel positively rich, with her wide range of (yes - sometimes idiosyncratic, but always revealing) dynamics. The key to understanding this performance, I think, lies in her own words (see cover notes) that she had the violin often in mind whilst performing this work. Bach, after all, never stipulated which instrument he was composing this for. This is musical architecture at its highest: and Ms. Boyle reads it very personally and with profound feeling and sincerity, while at the same time faithfully conserving the music's universal quality. This is not the "definitive performance": heaven preserve that such a thing should exist. But it is one of the most exciting and technically excellent interpretations I know. I am grateful for Ms. Boyle's ability to illuminate the music, and would recommend these discs to anyone wanting to be introduced to a new exploration of the musical cathedrals which Bach created.

Nigel McG (Review on amazon.co.uk)
May 2011

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The Art of Fugue is as much a mystery as it is a work of musical genius.  Given that there is unlikely ever to be a definitive understanding even of Bach's intentions, let alone the way in which it should be approached, it seems reasonable that we should be encouraged it with as open a mind as possible.  Most recent research would tend to indicate that the pieces written for harpsichord but as it so clearly works equally well on any key-board instrument - to say nothing of small instrumental ensembles - any new recording, with the fresh understanding it brings, is bound to be welcome.

Diana Boyle approaches the fugues from an orchestral point of view, finding overtones even of Brahms and Wagner within the score, and this understanding feeds her dynamic reading.  The opening is so quiet I thought there might be something wrong with either the CD or my player.  In the event it was the impressive dynamic range she brings to the work, a dynamic range which could only be achieved on the organ with registration.  As such we are far more aware of the flexibility of the individual musical lines as they are created rather than the movement from one part to another.  There is always room for another recording of this miraculous work and I am glad to have added this to my own collection.

Brian Hick
Musical Opinion March - April 2011

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Ms Boyle stresses the “orchestral” dimensions of the work, thinking of its articulation in terms of violins, trombones, double bass and flute at various times. I would certainly not quarrel with this as an approach and it is good to hear a performance that is above all determined to capture the changing musical character of the work rather than simply to demonstrate the complexity and ingenuity of the fugal writing.

Ms Boyle produces some very beautiful sounds and textures, and her speeds are well chosen. I cannot deny the beauty and character that is given to the music - rather than extracted from it. At the right time and in the right mood you may find this irresistible – I can see it becoming a cult version in some circles.

John Sheppard
MUSICWEB

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Diana Boyle’s recording of Bach’s Art of Fugue is extraordinarily wonderful...also shocking, revelatory. More than anything, I had the feeling of history flowing backwards, as if Bach’s music had been waiting for later musical evolution to reveal its hidden nature. Her playing seems not so much an art of interpretation as a new creation. The tone is bell-like and magnificent. Her colouring and voicing is phenomenal both in conception and execution. Once in a while something comes along that reconnects me with the ‘absolute’ power and value of certain music and the art of bringing it to life, and this was one of them.

Robin Ireland
February 2011

Divine Art

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Amazon 5 Stars

Really exciting and original playing

Diana Boyle understands her Bach and her interpretation of this second book of Preludes and Fugues makes one want to sit up and listen. Her tempi and limited use of the sustaining pedal make for a highly original recording. If you like JS Bach played on the piano then this is one disk you MUST have.

Jr Hunter-coddington, 2011 submitted on Amazon

 

The Sunday TimesThe Sunday Times <Culture>
October 22, 2000
JS BACH – The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book II
Metier MSV CD2002 (a+b) (2 CD’s)

As a Bach player Diana Boyle is at once fastidious and a free spirit. As in her recording of the Six Partitas on Integra, she is passionately concerned here to bring out the full, independent-mindedness of Bach’s endlessly subtle part-writing, and to this end invests her playing with an astonishing boldness of dynamic and accentual detail. Almost entirely avoiding the pedals, yet also avoiding undue dryness of texture, she re-creates these preludes and fugues – generally more extended and daring than the earlier 24 – with a clarity that can be brutally emphatic or imperturbably poised but is gripping just the same. No questions of phrasing or inflection, or even of what instrument to use, are taken for granted. Everything is newly invented, and crackling with intellectual energy.The pieces emerge in truly towering sequence.

Paul Driver

Divine Art

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Divine Art Intangible Classics ZDA 50503  Brahms: Klavierstücke

British pianist Diana Boyle is not well known in Italy but is considered one of the best pianists of old Albion. Her discography reveals that her activity is established definitely around the classical period given that her interpretative focus is on Bach, Mozart, Beethoven and Brahms – a line drawn from the base of tonal language, passing through the development of the Vienna School until reaching the composer who having  drawn fully on Classicism closes the door of Romanticism to open the way for modernity – a path for the artist who lives in seclusion in southern Portugal  who conducts a coherent search, reflecting and meditating, in order to establish her artistic and aural approach.  And so here the two recordings we are considering represent the alpha and omega of that narrative thread of repertoire, Bach’s Goldberg Variations and a miscellanea of Brahms’s piano works.

In the Brahms recording, Diana Boyle has chosen excerpts from the Op. 76, 116, 117, 118 and 119 and in this case the recordings come from over twenty years ago (October 1994). The key feature of the English pianist’s approach is more evident instability which pushes the balance towards the Romantic rather than the Classical. Also here is a tone which uses the dynamic field to create a ‘mood’ (for example in Intermezzo in E flat minor, Op. 118 No. 6 and Intermezzo in B major, Op. 76 No. 4.  Boyle uses this ‘instability’ to invest the works  with a patina of pathos (seen most in the first two Intermezzi from Op. 117 and 119) and transforming them into a recipe of sound in which the lines of a past tradition from Mozart through Beethoven come through making her interpretation of these works less ‘heterodox’ than her playing of the Bach.

Andrea Bedetti (CD Classico)
June 2017

 

CD CLASSICO (ITALIA)

ZDA 50501 – ZDA 50503

 

La pianista londinese Diana Boyle non è molto conosciuta nel nostro Paese, ma in terra anglosassone viene considerata una delle migliori pianiste d’Albione. Il suo palmarès discografico, d’altronde, testimonia di una feconda attività che verte su un repertorio decisamente classico, visto che l’attenzione interpretativa di questa artista si è concentrata su Bach, Mozart, Beethoven e Brahms, quindi una linea che parte dalle fondamenta del linguaggio tonale, passa attraverso lo sviluppo di due esponenti della Scuola di Vienna fino ad arrivare a colui che, dopo aver attinto a piene mani dal Classicismo passato, chiude la porta del Romanticismo per aprire (come avrà modo poi di intuire Schönberg in suo famoso saggio) quella della modernità. Un tragitto frutto di una ricerca coerente, dapprima riflettuta, meditata (Diana Boyle conduce una vita molto appartata nel sud del Portogallo a contatto diretto con la natura) e poi riversata sul piano artistico e sonoro. E le due registrazioni prese in esame rappresentano, in un certo senso, l’alfa e l’omega di quel filo narrativo dato dal repertorio fissato discograficamente, vale a dire le Variazioni Goldberg di Bach e una miscellanea di lavori pianistici di Brahms.

 

Cominciamo dalla registrazione bachiana, la quale non può ovviamente essere ascritta nell’alveo, sempre più numeroso, delle letture scrupolosamente filologiche e non solo per l’uso di uno strumento “moderno” come il pianoforte. Nelle note di copertina la stessa Boyle mette in luce tre punti che servono anche a comprendere meglio la sua lettura di quest’opera: la prima è che, come suo costume, prima di registrare le Goldberg non ha ascoltato nessuna delle diverse edizioni passate, a cominciare da quelle di Gould; la seconda è che l’approccio e lo studio di quest’opera non sono avvenuti in sequenza numerica, partendo dall’Aria, ma dai Canoni per poi passare ai brani più lenti e più lirici; la terza è che considera lo studio e la registrazione delle Goldberg (il suono è stato catturato nel giugno del 2003, ma la sua pubblicazione risale solo al gennaio di quest’anno) le sono serviti moltissimo per comprendere e affrontare meglio la registrazione di un altro capolavoro bachiano, ossia l’Arte della Fuga, da lei considerata l’opera imprescindibile di tutta la concezione musicale del sommo Kantor. Ora sulla base di questi tre aspetti, si può cogliere meglio le peculiarità interpretative della sua lettura. Una lettura che, rispetto, appunto, a quelle affrontate da altri artisti, a cominciare da quelle “storiche” della Tureck e di Gould, potrebbe risultare atipica, in quanto privilegia fondamentalmente, a livello di inquadramento generale dell’opera, un assunto discorsivo, nel quale la fluidità dell’eloquio musicale viene sancito da un uso molto attento, marcato, oserei dire, del fraseggio. Per Diana Boyle le Goldberg sono una linea continua più che tanti segmenti, e per valorizzare questa “discorsività” punta sul rubato (da qui possibili storcimenti di naso da parte dei “puristi”), proiettando il lavoro su una dimensione che sarebbe rientrata pienamente nel tipo di concezione (e di esecuzione) che ne avrebbero avuto gli esponenti della Scuola di Vienna e buona parte di quelli del movimento romantico. Da qui, ecco che la frammentazione data dalle variazioni si trasforma in un flusso di continuità al cui interno l’alternarsi delle variazioni stesse assume la visione di tappe, di “stazioni” su cui plasmare un fraseggio, un legato, un rubato, tale da preparare l’esecutore e l’ascoltatore all’opera successiva e finale, ossia l’Arte della Fuga. Senza contare i cambi di tempo che a volte tendono a estremizzarsi (lenti più lenti, riflessivi e meditabondi, ed allegri accelerati con uso di pedali), approcci resi danzanti contrassegnati da un sapore che ricorda il rococò, cambi repentini di timbrica (dal ff al pp), che esasperano il passaggio dalla tonica alla dominante e che immettono nell’elaborazione interpretativa un connotato quasi “teatrale” e decisamente à la page con il respiro interiore romantico (vedasi variazione 26 e il Quodlibet che assume i contorni di un Ländler).

 

Per ciò che riguarda l’omega, ossia il disco con lavori pianistici brahmsiani, Diana Doyle ha scelto brani dall’Opp. 76, 116, 117, 118 & 119 e anche in questo caso si tratta di registrazioni effettuate più di vent’anni fa (risalgono esattamente all’ottobre del 1994). La chiave data dalla pianista inglese è quella di una più che evidente instabilità che tende a spostare l’ago della bilancia più sul versante romantico che su quello classico. Anche qui una timbrica che viene usata come “stato d’animo”, con un’agogica che viene sollecitata (Intermezzo in mi bemolle minore, Op. 118, n 6 & Intermezzo in si bemolle maggiore, Op. 76, n. 4). Un’instabilità sulla quale Diana Boyle va a investire soprattutto quattro pietre miliari della maturità pianistica brahmsiana, ossia i primi due Intermezzi dell’Opp. 117 & 119, caricandoli di una patina di pathos e trasformandoli in un ricettacolo sonoro nel quale convergono le linee di un passato che affonda le sue radici in Mozart prima e in Beethoven poi e che, in un certo senso, fanno riallineare la sua lettura di queste opere su un solco meno “eterodosso” rispetto a quello fornito nell’interpretazione bachiana.

 

Andrea Bedetti

 

 

The Sunday TimesThe Sunday Times
March 9, 1997
JOHANNES BRAHMS – 14 Klavierstücke from Opus 76 & Opus 116-119
Integra Records IR9603-2

The playing of the British pianist Diana Boyle is quite a discovery. A pupil of Enrique Barenboim (Daniel’s father) and Artur Balsam, she has scarcely flaunted her talents, but they are very considerable, indeed. This Brahms sequence comprises some of the most beguiling of the Op 76 and Op 116-119 sets of late piano pieces, compiled with due regard for key change. Not one of her interpretations fails to arouse keen interest. She has evidently thought about the music intensively but her playing never sounds didactic. On the contrary, it has magical freshness and clarity; a precision that is cool, yet full of feeling, perfectly attuned to the elusiveness of this music. Her phrasing, like her use of dynamics, is endlessly bold and fascinating. Often, and most notably in the andante con moto of Op 76, No. 6, she allows daringly long pauses between phrases and sections, thereby deepening the music’s mystery. No player or lover of the piano should overlook this disc. PD.

 

WBUR 90.9 FMWBUR FM, Boston
Bach - The Six Keyboard Partitas

August 5, 1987

It is with extreme pleasure that I recommend Ms. Diana Boyle to you; she is a splendid pianist and musician.

Recently I had the privilege of broadcasting her performances of the six Bach Partitas (over the course of several days) as part of a daily concert music program I produce for station WBUR in Boston.  Even in a city virtually smothered in musical activity, the audience response to these performances was remarkable.

Callers to the station were struck, as I was, with the clarity and accuracy of the playing as well as its boldness.  I should add that seldom, if ever, does a broadcast performance of Bach on the piano fail to spark a call of complaint regarding the “questionable suitability of the instrument in such repertoire”. None of the callers with whom I spoke raised this debatable point.  Several, in fact, praised the playing specifically because it “sounded well” on the modern piano.

Mark Schilling.

Refers to 1987 broadcast (first version) of Bach Partitas.

Divine Art Intangible Classics ZDA 50503 Bach: Goldberg Variations

British pianist Diana Boyle is not well known in Italy but is considered one of the best pianists of old Albion. Her discography reveals that her activity is established definitely around the classical period given that her interpretative focus is on Bach, Mozart, Beethoven and Brahms – a line drawn from the base of tonal language, passing through the development of the Vienna School until reaching the composer who having  drawn fully on Classicism closes the door of Romanticism to open the way for modernity – a path for the artist who lives in seclusion in southern Portugal  who conducts a coherent search, reflecting and meditating, in order to establish her artistic and aural approach.  And so here the two recordings we are considering represent the alpha and omega of that narrative thread of repertoire,  Bach’s Goldberg Variations and a miscellanea of Brahms’s piano works.

The Bach recording cannot be counted among the increasing number of ‘scrupulously philological’ (“authentic period”) recordings not only for the use of a modern piano. Boyle mentions three points which underscored her point of view to this work: first, as is her habit, she avoided listening to any other recording of the work while studying it, even that of her inspiration, Glenn Gould; second she did not study the work in chronological order but from the Canons, then to the slower, more lyrical sections; third, that in order to understand the work fully she also needed fully to understand the even greater masterpiece of Bach, the Art of Fugue, which she considers the most indispensable work in his output.  Now, given these three aspects of her view, we can understand fully her particular interpretation. Compared with the other recordings from the historical ones of Turek and Gould, her result is not typical because her interpretation and the fluency of her musical speech is highly influenced by a very careful, pronounced way of phrasing.  For Diana Boyle, the Goldbergs are not a set of separate segments,  but a continuous narrative line, and to emphasise this ‘speech’ pattern,  uses much rubato (contrary to the likes of the ‘purists’) in a way reflecting the thinking and performance style of the Vienna School and Romantics. So the fragmentary Variations become a continuous flow within which the alternation of the variations appear like scenes on which to pin the phrases: a legato, a rubato.. which again prepare the listener for the format of the later and great work, the Art of Fugue. 

Boyle can stretch the tempo changes so that ‘slow’ becomes slower, reflective and meditative; allegro  is accentuated by use of pedals;  there is a feeling of dance that reminds us of rococo style, and unexpected dynamic changes (ff to pp)  which especially emphasise the passage from tonic to dominant, have almost a theatrical connotation and definitely display a Romantic  approach,  as examples variation 26 and Quodlibet which almost takes the aspect of a Ländler.

Andrea Bedetti (CD Classico)
June 2017

 

CD CLASSICO (ITALIA)

ZDA 50501 – ZDA 50503

 

La pianista londinese Diana Boyle non è molto conosciuta nel nostro Paese, ma in terra anglosassone viene considerata una delle migliori pianiste d’Albione. Il suo palmarès discografico, d’altronde, testimonia di una feconda attività che verte su un repertorio decisamente classico, visto che l’attenzione interpretativa di questa artista si è concentrata su Bach, Mozart, Beethoven e Brahms, quindi una linea che parte dalle fondamenta del linguaggio tonale, passa attraverso lo sviluppo di due esponenti della Scuola di Vienna fino ad arrivare a colui che, dopo aver attinto a piene mani dal Classicismo passato, chiude la porta del Romanticismo per aprire (come avrà modo poi di intuire Schönberg in suo famoso saggio) quella della modernità. Un tragitto frutto di una ricerca coerente, dapprima riflettuta, meditata (Diana Boyle conduce una vita molto appartata nel sud del Portogallo a contatto diretto con la natura) e poi riversata sul piano artistico e sonoro. E le due registrazioni prese in esame rappresentano, in un certo senso, l’alfa e l’omega di quel filo narrativo dato dal repertorio fissato discograficamente, vale a dire le Variazioni Goldberg di Bach e una miscellanea di lavori pianistici di Brahms.

 

Cominciamo dalla registrazione bachiana, la quale non può ovviamente essere ascritta nell’alveo, sempre più numeroso, delle letture scrupolosamente filologiche e non solo per l’uso di uno strumento “moderno” come il pianoforte. Nelle note di copertina la stessa Boyle mette in luce tre punti che servono anche a comprendere meglio la sua lettura di quest’opera: la prima è che, come suo costume, prima di registrare le Goldberg non ha ascoltato nessuna delle diverse edizioni passate, a cominciare da quelle di Gould; la seconda è che l’approccio e lo studio di quest’opera non sono avvenuti in sequenza numerica, partendo dall’Aria, ma dai Canoni per poi passare ai brani più lenti e più lirici; la terza è che considera lo studio e la registrazione delle Goldberg (il suono è stato catturato nel giugno del 2003, ma la sua pubblicazione risale solo al gennaio di quest’anno) le sono serviti moltissimo per comprendere e affrontare meglio la registrazione di un altro capolavoro bachiano, ossia l’Arte della Fuga, da lei considerata l’opera imprescindibile di tutta la concezione musicale del sommo Kantor. Ora sulla base di questi tre aspetti, si può cogliere meglio le peculiarità interpretative della sua lettura. Una lettura che, rispetto, appunto, a quelle affrontate da altri artisti, a cominciare da quelle “storiche” della Tureck e di Gould, potrebbe risultare atipica, in quanto privilegia fondamentalmente, a livello di inquadramento generale dell’opera, un assunto discorsivo, nel quale la fluidità dell’eloquio musicale viene sancito da un uso molto attento, marcato, oserei dire, del fraseggio. Per Diana Boyle le Goldberg sono una linea continua più che tanti segmenti, e per valorizzare questa “discorsività” punta sul rubato (da qui possibili storcimenti di naso da parte dei “puristi”), proiettando il lavoro su una dimensione che sarebbe rientrata pienamente nel tipo di concezione (e di esecuzione) che ne avrebbero avuto gli esponenti della Scuola di Vienna e buona parte di quelli del movimento romantico. Da qui, ecco che la frammentazione data dalle variazioni si trasforma in un flusso di continuità al cui interno l’alternarsi delle variazioni stesse assume la visione di tappe, di “stazioni” su cui plasmare un fraseggio, un legato, un rubato, tale da preparare l’esecutore e l’ascoltatore all’opera successiva e finale, ossia l’Arte della Fuga. Senza contare i cambi di tempo che a volte tendono a estremizzarsi (lenti più lenti, riflessivi e meditabondi, ed allegri accelerati con uso di pedali), approcci resi danzanti contrassegnati da un sapore che ricorda il rococò, cambi repentini di timbrica (dal ff al pp), che esasperano il passaggio dalla tonica alla dominante e che immettono nell’elaborazione interpretativa un connotato quasi “teatrale” e decisamente à la page con il respiro interiore romantico (vedasi variazione 26 e il Quodlibet che assume i contorni di un Ländler).

 

Per ciò che riguarda l’omega, ossia il disco con lavori pianistici brahmsiani, Diana Doyle ha scelto brani dall’Opp. 76, 116, 117, 118 & 119 e anche in questo caso si tratta di registrazioni effettuate più di vent’anni fa (risalgono esattamente all’ottobre del 1994). La chiave data dalla pianista inglese è quella di una più che evidente instabilità che tende a spostare l’ago della bilancia più sul versante romantico che su quello classico. Anche qui una timbrica che viene usata come “stato d’animo”, con un’agogica che viene sollecitata (Intermezzo in mi bemolle minore, Op. 118, n 6 & Intermezzo in si bemolle maggiore, Op. 76, n. 4). Un’instabilità sulla quale Diana Boyle va a investire soprattutto quattro pietre miliari della maturità pianistica brahmsiana, ossia i primi due Intermezzi dell’Opp. 117 & 119, caricandoli di una patina di pathos e trasformandoli in un ricettacolo sonoro nel quale convergono le linee di un passato che affonda le sue radici in Mozart prima e in Beethoven poi e che, in un certo senso, fanno riallineare la sua lettura di queste opere su un solco meno “eterodosso” rispetto a quello fornito nell’interpretazione bachiana.

 

Andrea Bedetti

 

Amazon UK 5 Star Review

This is a magical listening experience. Only the brave have recorded The Goldberg Variations using the piano in preference to the harpsichord since Glenn Gould’s benchmark recording of 1955. Ms Boyle is among those brave. She does not attempt to deprive Gould of his speed record (neither did Gould himself make an assault on it when he re-recorded the work in 1981) but brings something quite different though equally exciting to the set. Though her fingers are as nimble and fleet as any (witness variations 5, 14 and 20 among others) Ms Boyle gives them second place to her ears. Thus her playing of fugal passages is as clear as a telescope view of distant mountain chains on the brightest of days. While her sound world is a different one from Gould’s: richer, warmer, more nuanced and full of emotional as well as intellectual depth and resonance. The great Bach player Edwin Fischer wrote in the 1950s that a new generation of pianists was striving especially for sounds of brilliance: “the vowels of I and E,” as he put it, in preference to Ah and Oh. He finished, “But are not Oh and Ah the sounds of wonder?” Yes they are. Hats off to Diana Boyle.

Anthony McDonald (Review on amazon.co.uk)
Feb 2017