Cooper’s London

Discovery: Music

The Wonder of Wunders

 Once there was a singer named Wunderlich; and now there is a pianist named Wunder – Ingolf Wunder. In these two cases, certainly, the name describes the talent. Wunder, who is newly 26 as I write this, won the second prize at the Chopin Competition in 2010 and was a clear audience favourite. Everyone but the jury thought he should come first. Which proves you must always watch the second prize winner. (Once upon a time Bryn Terfel came second to Dmitri Hvorostovsky in a singing competition! And just as scandalously, once upon a time in 1980, Ivo Pogarelich came second in the Chopin Competition.)

Wunder manages to combine the cool, poised technical perfection that everyone admires so much these days with a complete mix of both intellectual interest in the music and genuine emotional understanding of it. He clearly has a great affinity for the music of Chopin. Deutsche Grammophon has signed him exclusively and his first disc―a Chopin recital that includes a superb interpretation of the third piano sonata―is everything one could have expected. This young Austrian musician plays very much within the tradition that understands the past musical values and passions of people like Rubinstein or Horowitz but his work is controlled by a powerful intellectual approach—more like the young Brendel, perhaps.

Forget the comparisons; he is the one and only Ingolf Wunder and we can look forward, I predict, to years of growth and development – and moving, enlightening music making. He shows great inwardness and spirituality in the largo of the third sonata, for example, an amazing yearning and poignancy in the finale of that sonata; and superb inwardness and controlled spontaneity in the Polonaise-Fantaisie in A flat major (he won a special prize for the playing of this one at the Chopin Competition). And if you study the photo on the back of the CD it suggests that he can also dance on pianos like Fred Astaire! A wunder indeed?

Ingolf Wunder Chopin Recital DG 477 9634

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