November 27, 09
Swiss made : The Lucerne Festival

It's grey and drizzly in beautiful Lucerne, the mountains barely visible beyond the lake. But inside the Lukaskirche the atmosphere is warm and still. A grand piano takes centre stage, like an open fire spilling out its heat. Cedric Pescia is responsible for stoking the flames, his finger work light and capable during Bach's Fantasie (1784), forceful and questioning throughout No 13 from Messiaen's Catalogue d'oiseaux (1956-58). The congregation watches, consumed by this impressive young pianist, as light struggles to penetrate the clouds and wobbles, falteringly, through the modern stained glass windows.

From Messiaen we time travel back to Beethoven. Here, we marvel at Pescia's versatility; one moment he is delicately poetic, the next short and detached - brusque almost - as he whizzes through the faster passages. This recital is part of the festival's debut series, a project conceived to give emerging artists a platform. Support is evidenced by the full house at this lunchtime event.
For his penultimate piece, Pescia performs the quirky and humorous set of short pieces by Gyorgy Kurtag, charmingly called A Work in Progress. We giggle nervously as Cage-like, Pescia mimes an emotive performance, and then bashes the piano keys with alarming violence, before moving on to a lengthy set of Schumann works without allowing for applause, leaving us bemused, disorientated - and impressed. (Claire Jackson)