Wednesday, March 8, 2017


The air of excitement carried over the weekend. People were talking. Daniil Trifonov
was the hot ticket in town, and it was one night only. The full program is here.

Robert Schumann

Kinderszenen, Op 15
Toccata, Op 7
Kreisleriana - Fantasias, Op 16

Dmitri Shostakovich 

Selections from 24 preludes and fugues, Op 87
                           No. 4 in E Minor (a late addition)
No. 7 in A Major
No. 2 in A Minor
No. 5 in D Major
  No. 24 in D Minor

Igor Stravinsky

Three movements from Petrushka
Russian Dance
Petrushka's cell
The Shrovetide Fair

There was certainly only one piano, and no music, but there were many moments when that we were hearing one man with two hands playing only that one piano defied comprehension. Two hands can't do that. One brain can't concentrate and sustain that, whatever the cerebral memory, whatever the muscle memory, and ten fingers on two hands simply aren't enough. The physiology involved is staggering, even for peak physiology - he's 26 and one day.

The entrance was as brisk and the perfunctory bow as deep, but the posture was different now he was just him. The intensity still burned. Upright more, leaning back more, neck sometimes quite extended, eyes to the heavens - I could see them, white balls with irises unseen staring into the infinity. And as the evening progressed , so did the show. By the time we were at the Stravinsky, there were chair leaving leaps, and serious grand gestures. This was a mighty good show. 

To say anything about the concert is pretentious beyond belief. It's music I am not especially familiar with (but the Shostakovich is mine to get to know much better, much), and hey, I can barely play chopsticks. But I have thoughts, with the general sweeping comment that there was lots of forte from this pianoforte, but no lack of subtlety.

The Schumann Childhood Fantasies were a slowly evolving slow careful reflection of dreams and memories, a wonderful lesson in how music can say what words can't express. The Toccata that followed was as jaw-dropping an example of technical brilliance as I've ever heard. Or likely to hear again. There was a roar from the audience, a not especially good audience sadly, some late arrivals, some persistent coughs, and a damn mobile phone that waited till the final note of the last Fantasia to bring us back to earth with its vulgar melody. It earned a deserved rebuke from a vocal audience member. Not to mention those who at the end of the evening couldn't get out quick enough. Rudeness writ large.

The Shostakovich I enjoyed the most, and dedicate myself to exploring in depth. The final 24th had a finality and sonorous depth that the evening could well have stopped right there. But the circus was about to begin, and while circus is completely the wrong word in its superficiality, the showmanship of the Stravinsky was dazzling in the extreme. As I've said, words fail me. Except thank you. 

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