What is it about his playing that makes Nel special? While one could and should mention his immaculate technique, impeccable taste, poised performances, and balanced interpretations, one always returns to his beautiful tone. Although the piano looks like an instrument of polished ebony and ivory, on the inside it's all wooden hammers and metal strings, and getting a beautiful tone out of it is way harder than trying to get fast on it. And Nel's recital, though exceedingly difficult any program with Granados's Allegro de Concierto on it is a knuckle buster is basically built for beauty. The Haydn Sonata's ravishing Adagio, the Debussy Estampes' radiant "Jardins sous la Pluie," and the Schumann Carnaval's passionate "Chopin" movement are textbook examples of beauty in music. And Anton Nel is the player to take their beauty out of the textbook and put it up on the concert stage where it belongs.
[Review published May 2007]