“Let the music speak for itself” was his reply when I asked Joseph Moog if he would like to comment on his programme. It was not that he did not want to speak or could not speak; he was a very articulate and knowledgeable young man. It was that he preferred only using his music to communicate with the audience, uninterrupted. And it worked.
Beethoven’s Sonata No. 8 'Pathétique' opened this evening's recital. Joseph’s capacity for expression was deep. He was not afraid of being very bold – even in the second movement Adagio Cantabile, he used fortissimo freely to express himself. In the third movement, performed a tiny bit more slowly than you’d normally hear, he showed control which made every note sound tasteful.
Valse Impromptu by Franz Liszt was performed with wit, elegance, a skilful touch and effective accents; played at a pleasant tempo, it immediately lit the atmosphere and filled the room with a brilliant mood. Valse Mélancolique was beautifully voiced and shaped. The next 15 minutes to follow was Ballade No 2 in B minor, the fusion of drama and lyricism. Alternating between a dark and demonic mood and an angelic theme, this piece provided a sense of narrative drama. The powerful, broken octaves and sky rocketing scales were unbelievably precise, contributing to an orchestral effect in its fullness. I’m sure it was physically and mentally draining for the performer!
The second half started with four selected pieces from Rachmaninov’s Etudes Tableaux. All in minor keys and a mixture of two opuses, they were in a somewhat unique sequence, but according to Joseph, “It makes musical sense”.
Faure’s beautiful Theme and Variations followed, then Anton Rubinstein’s Fantasy on Hungarian Melodies to finish the concert. This arrangement was by Joseph himself.
Throughout the second half this German pianist combined an impeccable technique with a powerful tone; it was muscular and strong in presentation but he never forgot emotional delicacy. His amazing accuracy shone throughout the programme. The two encores, Joseph’s own composition and a lovely piece from Scarlatti, were a bonus for the audience.
On the following day, Joseph had his Wigmore Hall debut. I heard it was hugely successful!