Sergio Srdan Kozlica in St Ann’s Church, Dawson’s Street, 27 August 2014
Guided by the enthusiastic applause of a mere handful of people, the Croatian- born Sergio Srdan Kozlica takes to the altar of St Ann’s Church with an impressively ambitious Lisztian programme.
Under the misjudged weight of Kozlica’s opening ‘A’ octave, Liszt’s Après une Lecture du Dante: Fantasia quasi Sonata (1849) shunts the piano forward in a dramatic fashion, seducing the audience with the promise of a truly virtuosic experience. The inflexible piano stool renders Kozlica’s position a fraction too high, resulting in an awkward stance in bass-heavy sections of the score. The agitated character of the Presto is captured convincingly through a well-judged tempo, and controlled weighting of the semiquaver stabbing-chord motifs. Sudden alterations in the rhythmic contour of the score leave Kozlica unfazed, as he blends each thematic shift with ease. The delicacy of his octave playing in the Andante is technically astute, despite the straining upper register of the instrument in which some of the strings appear to be failing. As the intensity of the music climaxes, Kozlica sounds out each defiant chord with admirable power. His performance, whilst impressive, lacks the charisma and showmanship demanded of such a work. The sonata concludes with a rousing tremolo roar in the bass. Kozlica stands for his share of polite applause from this meager bunch of music enthusiasts.
A picturesque playing of Liszt’s Consolation No. 3 (1849–1850) follows, however, the use of rubato to punctuate phrase-endings becomes a little laboured in the opening lines. Nonetheless, Kozlica’s cantabile is beautifully balanced against the undulating character of the left hand. A rather safe interpretation of Liszt’s ‘Sonetto 104 del Petrarca’ from Années de pèlerinage (1837–1849) takes the concert to its mid-way point. The work is well executed, but lacks musical expression in places. Kozlica’s technical facility comes to the fore in his rendition of Étude No. 3, Un Sospiro (1845–1849). The tonal equilibrium between the hands here is excellent. His seamless interweaving of arpeggiated runs is flawless.
Due to time constraints Kozlica informs us that he will not be performing the advertised Mephisto Waltz, No. 1, S. 514 (1859–1862), nor the epic Sonata in B minor, S. 178 (1853). The concert concludes with the first movement from Beethoven’s ‘Moonlight Sonata’. After a shaky start, and minor memory lapse, Kozlica produces an acceptable, albeit cautious, interpretation of the work.
Liszt: Après une Lecture du Dante: Fantasia quasi Sonata
Liszt: Consolation No. 3 in D flat major
Liszt: ‘Sonetto 104 del Petrarca’ from Années de pèlerinage
Liszt: Étude No. 3, Un Sospiro
Beethoven: Adagio sostenuto from Sonata No. 14 in C sharp minor, Op. 27, No. 2