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#499976 - 01/12/09 05:52 PM Most memorable concerts/recitals  
Joined: Apr 2007
Posts: 959
pianovirus Offline
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pianovirus  Offline
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Basel, Switzerland
The 100-years-Gaspard thread reminded me of a unique concert experience I had last winter. I was in a little village in the Swiss Alps for skiing holidays, expecting that the only encounter with music there would be via a portable digital piano that almost always accompanies me on trips. However, on the day of our arrival I saw a recital announced in the village church. The pianist was Yulianna Avdeeva, at that time a student of Konstanin Scherbakov. At the evening of the concert, I was already in a perfect receptive mood. Walking over through the village in the snow and entering the church which was completely filled to the last place by maybe 100 people (small church) sitting there in eager anticipation contributed to my excitement. She played Bach's D major toccata, followed by Pictures at an Exhibition, and finally Gaspard de la Nuit. The first encore I didn't know, as second she played the Rigoletto Paraphrase. Walking back through the snow to our flat I was like in a trance state and I remember it took ages until I could fall asleep. Her playing was great, but what made this recital so unforgettable for me was the combination of this great playing, her spellbinding stage appearance (nothing exaggerated), but then also the feeling of being "at the end of the world" where I didn't expect at all to hear piano music, the wonderful atmosphere in the winter village and also within the church, the small number of people which gave an intimate feeling to the recital, and my emotional receptiveness which was greatly increased by these circumstances. I still happily think back at this evening from time to time.

I'm curious if others could share some dear memories of unforgettable concerts?

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#499977 - 01/12/09 06:55 PM Re: Most memorable concerts/recitals  
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Coming from Houston originally, I was fairly used in my youth to seeing some of the greatest pianists of our time--Steven Hough, Anton Kuerti, Richard Goode, Ivo Pogorelich, among others. However, since I moved to Nowhere, Colorado and become a music major, I've had relatively little exposure to good music (including an awful experience of watching some young hotshot try to play the 3rd Rachmaninoff Concerto with a small local orchestra--not good at all). However, when I saw that Hamelin was going to be playing in Aspen in about 5 months (the date was August 16th, I think), I knew I had no choice but to go. Hamelin has long been my "hero" if you will, and I have greatly admired him for as long as I can remember. I knew that if I didn't go to Aspen to see the recital, I would regret it for the rest of my life.

Well, I got a friend to come along, and we drove up to my parents' house in Colorado Springs the night before, so as to make our trip to Aspen a little shorter. Unfortunately, I couldn't sleep due to the excitement and ended up getting my friend up at about 6am, like a kid on Christmas, and shoving him into the car. We had a great time in Aspen throughout the day, caught the tail-ends of a few concerts (on TV screens outside the hall), and hoped to run into Hamelin as he got ready. We didn't, although one of the most magical moments of my life was standing outside about 30 minutes before the recital and listening to him warm up, playing a Haydn rondo at an incredible speed, yet retaining every detail of phrasing, dynamic coloring, and clarity. I could hardly contain my excitement as I listened to him go through a few passages time and again, with each successive time through being an improvement (somehow).

Well, needless to say the concert was overwhelming for me and just seeing him play was almost too much for me to take (as in, I felt very choked up). The highlight was the Weissenberg "Sonata in a State of Jazz" which I had heard a few times on the way up from his CD--but I must say, the CD was rubbish compared to his playing live. It was actually startling how powerful his sound was, and how emotive he could be. Everyone says he is emotionless and dry, but I cannot agree with that at all, well except in a few cases of his recordings (I think his Schumann lacks color, for example). He played some gorgeous Chopin, including the Barcarolle, two of his own etudes, including the one after Goethe which I had never heard before, and the Strauss-Godowsky "Kunsterleben" which, although at times a rather bloated piece, was nevertheless enjoyable. Then he ended with his trademark "Chopsticks" variations after Beethoven. Throughout the whole concert I was, of course, in total awe and humility.

Then the ride home, at 10.30pm, came. We might have stayed at a hotel, but I figured the drive wouldn't be so bad since I was energized after the recital. Instead, it ended up taking 2 hours longer than we anticipated, we ran into massive amounts of hail (narrowly avoiding a few tornadoes, we later found out), and at some point I started having some bizarre hallucinations! That, mixed with Hamelin's jazz CD going, and our conversation about D&D-related issues (yes, yes), made the trip seem a little out of hand. So far, it's the best concert story I have. By the way, I didn't meet him afterward either, because I decided I would feel like an absolute fool going to shake his hand (or whatever). I mean honestly, like he needs another drooling wannabe pianist telling him how great he is. :rolleyes:

#499978 - 01/12/09 07:07 PM Re: Most memorable concerts/recitals  
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pianovirus Offline
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Basel, Switzerland
Wow, thanks Goldberg for sharing that nice concert story. Glad you had such a wonderful Hamelin live experience - which I still have to wait for.

It's nice to hear from others about these familiar feelings of childlike excitement before a concert:
I couldn't sleep due to the excitement and ended up getting my friend up at about 6am, like a kid on Christmas
Maybe (well, certainly) I'm biased, but for me no other kind of concert can give the same pre-concert thrill as a piano recital - empty stages with nothing but a grand piano on it simply have the highest thrill factor...

#499979 - 01/13/09 05:41 AM Re: Most memorable concerts/recitals  
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Wood-demon Offline
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I always tried to book for a Cherkassky appearance. You might not always agree with what he did with the music but, boy, did he involve you with his playing! So many of his concerts still remain vivid to me, especially the first time I saw him back in the sixties. He opened with the Mendelssohn Prelude and Fugue in Eminor and I remember thinking I'd never heard sounds like that coming from the piano...even though, by that time, I'd heard quite a few distinguished players.

Another experience vivid in my memory is a "Proms" performance of the Swan Lake suite conducted by Norman DelMar. DelMar built up the tension in the Waltz to such a pitch of excitement that I felt I would explode if I didn't applaud loudly at the end of it. Luckily, most of the audience must have felt the same way because they broke into a roar of approval at the the end of the movement.

I also remember feeling a real sense of elation at a staged performance of Delius' Koanga (as a whole, not a particularly successful opera) in the dance scene "La Calinda" where the lovely music and charming staging really took me away from the creaky old theatre (Sadler's Wells I think) for a few heavenly minutes.

Finally I recall the first time I'd really experienced Arnold Bax's music when, as a music student, I heard the college First Orchestra, conducted by Vernon Handley, perform The Garden of Fand. It proved to be a revelation, and I've loved Bax's music ever since.

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#499980 - 01/13/09 06:35 AM Re: Most memorable concerts/recitals  
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Journee Oubliee Offline
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Goldberg, I love your story. My friend was present at this recital and I have the whole thing recorded. As for the Weissenberg sonata, I must agree. You would think he might make a mistake or 2 in the last movement; instead he plays all the difficult passages as if they were simple scale passages. That 'Suggestion Diabellique' at the end was a real crowd pleaser, but a real joke. xD

On my personal experince, I can say the best recital I have ever attended was in the UK where pianist Ian Pace performed some new works, most of which at that point I had never heard of before. I went for what I knew, which were the Dusapin etudes(#4 my favorite was actually played xD), and Sciarrino's 3rd Piano sonata.

I had the opportunity to hear some premieres, including W. Hoban's 'when the panting STARTS' which turned out to be the most amazing piano piece I have ever experienced in front of me. The piano was turned so that the audience could see how Pace performed it, seeing that this piece was made for 10 fingers and not 2 hands. It was simply fantastic! The score was huge and the page turner was just as important as Pace himself, since sometimes he had to turn the pages almost immediately one after another.

The Dusapin etudes also pleased me. No. 4 was the one I had been waiting for, and to see it performed live was beyond me. I still have no idea how he sight-reads. He must have looked at his hands only twice during the entire piece, which is difficult beyond what most people would consider difficult.

I think the Gilbert Amy sonata was also played on this night and a Finnissy transcription which ended the recital. This recital was simply amazing.


Kissin's recital in NYC also some years ago was memorable because he have Moszkowski's 'Caprice Espagnol' as an encore, and it made my whole night. I had been very pleased with Hofmann's recording, but Kissin also proved it can be played at such a great level of understanding. His Chopin polonaises were also decent, not the best but definitely not bad.


last but not least, I heard Hamelin live about 1 year ago in which he played Scriabin's 6th and 7th sonatas. The 6th raised the hairs right from my arms, and it equalled Richter's rendition in my opinion. The 'White Mass' sonata followed it, but personally Hamelin cannot do justice to this piece in some sections where I think Scriabin had intentions that far exceed any technical ability Hamelin has. The performance was decent, but his 7th is not my favorite.

I have many more experiences but these were my favorites. xD

#499981 - 01/14/09 11:14 AM Re: Most memorable concerts/recitals  
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pianist.ame Offline
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Stephen Hough's performance of Brahms Piano Concerto no.2 :)which was 2 years ago at Ophium theatre in Vancouver

as well as my canada teacher's performance of Mozart's Piano Concerto no.21 in C major. The string quartet that accompanied her was amazing too, they sounded like an orchestra!

Mastering:Chopin Etudes op.10 nos.8&12 and op.25 no.1, Chopin Scherzo no.4 in E major op.54, Mozart Sonata in B flat major K.333& Khachaturian Toccata

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