Friday, September 10, 2021, Royal Albert Hall, London

Broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 from 7.30 p.m.

JSB’s ‘Aria and thirty variations’ found Pavel Kolesnikov in whimsical form at times, giving the impression of extemporisation, a nudge here, a stab there, a teasing dynamic or decoration, but he also had the measure of the work’s bigger picture, which he traversed with delight in the diversity of the music, whether ebullient or profound, either outgoing or retreating to an inner sanctum of slowly-evolving reflection, his Yamaha piano responsive.

As broadcast, Kolesnikov seemed unfazed by playing in this big space (or by numerous noises-off), not afraid to pare-down his volume and sound, to which one imagines the audience went with him, and certainly for this home-alone listener he kept my ears and senses interested – when the ‘Aria’ returned to round-off this journeying work it was like waking from a maze-like dream (the only way out is to find the beginning) – and he did so for eighty-six minutes, several longer than his Hyperion recording (same repeat scheme: all). Here’s a review I wrote earlier…

Pavel Kolesnikov records Bach’s Goldberg Variations for Hyperion.