Cyprien Katsaris Recital - IKIF

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Donald Isler
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Cyprien Katsaris Recital - IKIF

Post by Donald Isler » Tue Jul 17, 2012 12:59 am

Cyprien Katsaris Recital IKIF
14th International Keyboard Institute and Festival at Mannes College
New York City
July 16th, 2012

Program
Schubert – Allegretto in C Minor, D. 915
Schubert – Pieces No. 1 in E-Flat Minor and No. 2 in E-Flat Major, D. 946
Beethoven – Sonata No. 8 in C Minor, Op. 13, “Pathétique”
Liszt – Bénédiction de Dieu dans la solitude
Liszt/Katsaris – Concerto No. 2 in A Major for piano solo

Last year Cyprien Katsaris’ recital reminded me of Earl Wild’s ability to balance being an artist as well as an entertainer. This evening I was thinking, instead, of Shura Cherkassky. Cherkassky was probably best known as a wonderful interpreter of Romantic music. But he played everything, from Bach to Stockhausen. And he was a particularly fine Bach player.

The name of Cyprien Katsaris may also be most commonly associated with the music of Liszt, and the other Romantics. But he’s such a magnificent pianist, and such an incredibly musical man, that one is grateful he plays other music, too.

After coming on stage at the beginning of the evening and asking those who intended to make pirate (illegal) recordings of the concert to turn off their machines (“I know you may not do this, but thank you for considering it!”) he gave a very beautiful, almost chaste performance of Schubert’s C Minor Allegretto. And, already, he started to show off some of the unusual things he likes to do. Where Rachmaninoff liked to refer to the (melodic) “pinky soprano” he sometimes emphasized the “alto thumb.” Very effectively.

The first two pieces from the Three Piano Pieces of D. 946 were also impressive. Though he often seems to be impatient (ie. he likes to move quickly from one work to the next), when he finds a color or feeling he likes he lingers there lovingly, and time all but stops. The “Venetian gondola song” effect which he found in the A-Flat section of the first piece was wondrous. As was the return from the fast sections of the second piece to the calm, simple and comforting main theme.

His performance of the Beethoven Sonata was also very satisfying, if a bit unorthodox. He played the first movement at a terrific clip, but, especially as he did not need to slow down for the cross hand sections (which pianists often claim to do for expressive reasons, though they really do it to make things easier!) the effect was bracing. And, who in the audience, before hearing Mr. Katsaris play the slow movement this evening, knew that it contains a middle voice “trumpet call?” Probably no one. But Mr. Katsaris found one!

The last movement was a wonderful romp. At one point he played some phrases a bit louder just because, I think, he felt like it. And it worked. To tell the truth, his Beethoven playing is fresher, and often preferable to that of some Beethoven “specialists.”

Before playing Liszt’s Bénédiction de Dieu dans la solitude he recited the poem on which it is based in French from memory, and then read an English translation. Aside from easily handling all the challenges of this work Mr. Katsaris indeed conveyed its spiritual nature in sections that were calm, majestic, glittery, brilliant and, at all times, tonally gorgeous.

What can one say about Mr. Katsaris’ transcription of the Liszt A Major Concerto? It was an amazing tour de force, using, it seemed, almost everything in his huge technical arsenal. That, and, at times, a sound big enough to fill in for an entire orchestra, not surprisingly, led to the standing ovation which greeted him at the end.

Still not tired, the energetic Mr. Katsaris (who stood outside the building after the concert for quite some time, speaking with his admirers) played one encore, the lovely, rather Rachmaninoff-like Prelude Op. 33, No. 7 by Bortkiewicz. It was wonderfully played, and a fitting end to a most impressive evening.

Donald Isler
Donald Isler

Ricordanza
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Re: Cyprien Katsaris Recital - IKIF

Post by Ricordanza » Tue Jul 17, 2012 5:45 am

Donald, thanks for your wonderful reviews of the Rose and Katsaris recitals. One of these days, I hope to make it back to NYC for this piano festival.

John F
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Re: Cyprien Katsaris Recital - IKIF

Post by John F » Wed Jul 18, 2012 2:44 am

Another (re)view:

Getting the Audience’s Attention, and Keeping It
Cyprien Katsaris at the International Keyboard Festival
By ANTHONY TOMMASINI
Published: July 17, 2012

The eminent French-Cypriot pianist Cyprien Katsaris had serious business on his mind when he took the stage on Monday night at Mannes College the New School for Music and signaled to the audience that he wanted to speak. After greeting everyone Mr. Katsaris said that he wanted to “address the pirates” in the audience. He sternly asked concertgoers to switch off “your little recording devices,” adding that he knew full well that some in the audience would not do so. He asked that those determined to record his performance anyway “please consider” that this act is “almost like stealing or raping.”

The audience seemed stunned into silence. A few people applauded. Then Mr. Katsaris began his program, presented on the first full day of the two-week International Keyboard Institute and Festival, which opened on Sunday night with a recital by Jerome Rose, the festival’s founding director.

In principle Mr. Katsaris was on solid ground. The illicit recording of a performance is a violation of an artist’s rights. And smartphones have made this piracy easier than ever. Mr. Katsaris’s large discography includes many live performances, including the complete Mozart piano concertos with the Salzburger Kammerphilharmonie. So it must be especially frustrating for him to see illegal recordings of his performances end up of the Web. Still, chastising your audience is not the best way to begin a recital.

Regardless, Mr. Katsaris, who played at this festival last summer, is an artist who requires some understanding. For all his pianistic skills and musicianly refinement, he can be an idiosyncratic interpreter.

He began with three late works by Schubert, the Allegretto in C minor and the first two of the Drei Klavierstücke, in performances that demonstrated both the alluring and the curious qualities of his artistry. He gave an undulant and searching account of the Allegretto, and brought rhapsodic flair to the restless first Klavierstück. But at times, in drawing expressive nuances from Schubert’s melodic lines or playing dotted-note rhythmic figures, Mr. Katsaris displayed a freedom that verged on casualness.

Turning next to Beethoven’s familiar “Pathétique” Sonata, Mr. Katsaris seemed unsettled at first. In the grave introduction to the first movement he played with somber restraint and deep, rich sound. But throughout the bustling main section little runs and dramatic timings seemed off.

When he finished the movement Mr. Katsaris, who is 61, turned to the audience and said, “Memory is not the best friend of getting old,” and playfully warned, “Watch out for memory, everybody.”

If memory was the problem, he had no similar trouble in the slow movement, played with glowing sound and lyrical poise, or in the final rondo, dispatched with delicacy, clarity and brio.

After intermission he spoke again, this time to read — most elegantly, first in the French original, then in an English translation — the poem by Alphonse de Lamartine that inspired Liszt to write his magnificent “Bénédiction de Dieu Dans la Solitude” (“The Blessing of God in Solitude”). His performance captured the mystical flights and teeming intensity of Liszt’s visionary work.

Mr. Katsaris, who is also a composer, concluded with his own arrangement of Liszt’s popular Piano Concerto No. 2 in A for solo piano. With the orchestral music folded into the piano part, some of the concerto’s combative David-and-Goliath drama is lost. The trade-off is that the concerto comes across as an integrated and colossal piano piece.

Some big climactic passages sounded cluttered and dense, like the episode where, in the original, the piano and orchestra join forces for a triumphant march rendition of the main theme. Still, making this bold arrangement was inspired, and Mr. Katsaris received a deserved ovation.

On most days of the festival there are two recitals. On Monday, as part of the earlier-evening Prestige Series, the fast-rising young German pianist Alexander Schimpf, 30, played an impressive program. He opened with Bach’s French Suite No. 5 in G in an exquisite performance that found a judicious balance between lyrical freedom and articulate, dancelike tempos and touch. He was equally fine in Beethoven’s “Pastoral” Sonata, Scriabin’s Five Preludes (Op. 74) and a beautifully colored, crisp and lively account of Ravel’s “Tombeau de Couperin.”

Mr. Schimpf did not speak to his audience. But during the intermission of Mr. Katsaris’s recital, he chatted amiably with audience members who had heard him earlier. The festival attracts many piano buffs, who eagerly take in two recitals a night.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/18/arts/ ... tival.html
John Francis

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