THE latest concert in Sage Gateshead’s Piano Greats series was entitled Lars Vogt’s Appassionata and, true to the description, the pianist made the work his very own in a recital showcasing his formidable talents.

One of the monuments of Western music, composed at the peak of Beethoven’s creative peak powers, the work is laden with a mood of tragic solemnity. Vogt opened with restrained bars before unleashing the first stormy passage and going on to negotiate thrilling twists and turns with laser sharpness.

A graceful slow movement offered respite, with its sense of tranquility flowing seamlessly to a scorching finale.

The first half of the concert was dedicated to Brahms, beginning with his Three Intermezzi, followed by Four Klavierstucke, which oozed melancholy.

When Brahms sent the manuscript of his Variations on a Theme of Paganini to friend and mentor Clara Schumann, she famously dubbed them the Witchcraft Variations, as she felt only a pianist with supernatural powers could do them justice. Vogt rose the occasion, despatching its intricate technical demands with aplomb.

A rare outing of Janacek’s In the Mists, with its energetic Presto, was a real treat. Encores came in the shape of Brahms' op 119 no 2 and Friedrich Gulda’s Prelude and Fugue.

The next concert in the Piano Greats series at Sage Gateshead features Angela Hewitt at 7.30pm on Wednesday, April 24.

Gavin Engelbrecht