Words And Music

Sir, the British pianist Jill Crossland gives us a programme here as tastily arranged as a cordon bleu menu, well thought out, delicately prepared and fresh. The two Mozarts are the starter, the Fantasia in D minor, quite explicit as fantasies go, a gentle unravelling and freeing of the taste buds, and a sweeping left hand scale executed with a flourish like a chef unveiling the dish of the day beneath a dishcloth. The sixteen variations on Ah vous dirai-je Maman, or Twinkle Twinkle, form an entree of many flavours, bitter in the minor, sweet in the episode with the doh-ti-la-ti-doh cadence.

The main course is Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, the adagio sostenuto glistening, moist and moreish, the dissonances piquant, the allegretto brief as seasoning and the presto agitato, alas, slightly overdone, rushed and lacking crispness.

The dessert is Beethoven’s Six Bagatelles, trifles played with wit and sparkle. They are timed beautifully, neither too raw nor too rich. The fresh finale is a sequence of three Christmassy Bach-Busoni chorale preludes, including Wachet auf (wake up! the bridegroom is on his way). Crossland ensures the grandeur of the melody is not rushed to pay the bill, but is allowed to mellow respectfully.

It’s a most satisfying disc. I’d give it as a gift to one hungry for michelin-star playing of classic recipes.

—Rick Jones