Have you been to a concert somewhere in the world recently? Share your thoughts with us about the performance, the more details the better!

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Donald Isler
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Post by Donald Isler » Tue Jul 26, 2005 11:37 pm

More attention should be given to the International Keyboard Institute and Festival, now under way at Mannes College. In its seventh year, it comes along each summer for two weeks in the latter half of July, when concert life in New York has slowed down, and provides one and sometimes even two concerts a day by marvelous pianists, as well as master classes by many of the distinguished artists who perform, and also teach the young musicians who come there to study.

It is the place to be, especially for pianists. In the audience can be found noted pianists of the senior generation, such as Constance Keene and Ruth Slenczynska, well-known critics like Harris Goldsmith and David Dubal (who interviews some of the performers) and every young and middle-aged pianist on his or her way up.

I should mention the three programs I have heard, and enjoyed.

The first was a recital by Festival Founder Jerome Rose, which included two major works, which he obviously feels strongly about, the Schubert C Minor Sonata and the Brahms Handel Variations, as well as the world premiere of Philip Lasser’s Prelude pour piano: “De l’hiver au printemps.” This tonal work received a striking, and totally convincing performance. An encore, Schubert’s G-Flat Impromptu, Op. 90, No. 3 was also particularly lovely.

This past Saturday evening Earl Wild played a rather long “half” program, then spent the second half of the evening talking on stage with Mr. Dubal. That he performed at all is remarkable since he had quadruple bypass surgery only nine months ago, and he is in his ninetieth year. After the surgery, he told us later, he felt he could hardly play anymore but, having played all his life “I wouldn’t take no for an answer!” His performances of Beethoven’s Sonata Op. 10, No. 3 and works of Liszt and Chopin were unfailingly musical, thoughtful and enjoyable. His technique is in remarkable shape for a man of his age, and there were moments when it would not be an exaggeration to say his brilliance and even his strength were thrilling. He concluded the printed program with his rather staggering transcription of the Mexican Hat Dance, and then played an encore by Tchaikovsky.

This past evening Leslie Howard played an all-Liszt program. If anyone could do this it should be Mr. Howard, who has recorded all of Liszt’s piano works on 96 CD’s! In a particularly probing interview after a strenuous recital David Dubal mentioned how extraordinary it was that he had devoted 20 years of his life to this project. A modest Mr. Howard quickly replied that his effort was nothing compared with that of Liszt in creating this unique body of work. (With a similarly modest attitude, when asked what other pianist he would like to have heard live, he said “Rachmaninoff.” Playing what? “Anything! A C major scale would be lovely!”)

How did Leslie Howard play this program, which consisted of one virtuoso work after another, including the Variations on Bach’s Weinen, Klagen, Sorgen, Zagen , the Grosses Konzertsolo, the Scherzo and March, and three other blockbusters? With awesome technical command and total dedication to the content and expressivity of the music. This is the way we expect to approach Beethoven, ie. always remembering that the music is more important than the artist. Sometimes this gets forgotten when people play Liszt. So it was wonderful to hear this music performed with such devotion by a master.

There’s still a lot more going on at the Festival this week, and I’m particularly looking forward to Marc-Andre Hamelin’s recital on Saturday, which, I think, is already sold out. If you’re in New York in the second half of July, and love the piano, you really should spend some time on West 85th Street, and hear what goes on there.

Donald Isler
Last edited by Donald Isler on Thu Aug 04, 2005 5:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Donald Isler

Posts: 174
Joined: Mon Nov 08, 2004 11:57 am

The IKIF Festival

Post by Jppiano » Wed Jul 27, 2005 10:28 am

Thanks to Don for his mention and reviews. I should also say that anyone who read that dismissive and obnoxious review of the Rose and Bidini concerts by that deaf jackass Bernard Holland would be well advised to pay no attention to his uninformed stupidity, and instead read the much more intelligent reviews of his New York Times collegues Allan Kozinn and Anthony Tommasini, as well as Donald's posts.

Joe Patrych

(The writer is the Audio Director of the IKIF.)

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