The Independent
Thursday 10/04/97
CLASSICAL Eduardus Halim Wigmore Hall, London
By Adrian Jack

"The last pupil of Vladimir Horowitz" isn't necessarily an optimistic billing, for the ones before have been described like Bluebeard's wives. Eduardus Halim deserves better. He chose a distinctive programme for his UK debut on Saturday, and his playing met all its demands.

Indonesian born, Halim is a slight man but a big pianist, making nonsense of claims for this or that octogenarian as the "last romantic". With each piece he began by spreading his arms and bringing his hands very slowly into position - a gesture of consecration that would have looked absurd had his performances been less than hugely characterful. Three Busoni arrangements of Chorale Preludes by Bach were laden with a weight of expressive emphasis justified by the thick textures, with their grumbling bass lines. This was the way the musical giants early this century approached B ach, and if, in "Nun komm der Heiden Heiland". Halim's variations of speed and volume seemed subjective, they were always fascinating and beautiful.

In five Chopin Mazurkas, his crisply stylized articulation and lavish colouring were unlike the plainer approach of most pianists today and would probably be regarded as unidiomatic by some. There was no doubt, anyway, he was judging as well as relishing every moment, and his controlled intensity in the inspired non sequiturs of Schumann's Humoreske made a compelling case for this neglected work, with its vein of manic enthusiasm which only the finest technique can serve. Halim certainly has that. Nor was he overstating the vein of extempore indulgence in three of Granados's Goyescas when he squeezed them for the last drop of voluptuous abandon - they are too verbose to be played with classical decorum. Still, he did not seem incapable of judicious restraint in Liszt's rowdy and rousing Hungarian Rhapsody No 12, whose heavy closing moments he saved from vulgarity by limiting brute force.