Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Feltsman recital sublime and intimate

Photo credit: Jim Leisy
Guest review by Ruta Kuzmickas

Portland Piano International welcomed acclaimed pianist Vladimir Feltsman to the stage of Portland State University’s Lincoln Hall last Monday night (January 13th). Having presented a dazzling program of large-scale works by Bach, Liszt, and Scriabin the night before to a sold-out audience, Feltsman brought to the piano a collected, focused, and powerful energy throughout Monday evening’s performance of Haydn, Schubert, and Schumann.

The program kicked off with Joseph Haydn’s Piano Sonata No. 31 in A-flat Major, masterfully crafted by Feltsman with a bright, crisp, and articulate touch. After a vigorous first movement, the intricately felt suspensions and intimate dialogue between the songful voices of the second movement carried the audience into a transcendental, trance-like state. His full, clear tone and brilliantly robust virtuosity returned in the sonata’s playful finale movement. Feltsman would later announce that he had sent his program in a year ago and hadn’t double-checked it since (the program had listed Haydn’s Sonata in C Minor). Even if it was the “wrong Haydn sonata”, the mix-up was a happy accident in its purest, most vividly imaginative form - a truly pleasant surprise.

Feltsman brought the first half to a close with Franz Schubert’s Sonata in A minor, drawing out sublime tones and textures from both the upper and lower registers of the instrument. These features of his artistry were especially prevalent in the second half of the performance. Schumann’s “Arabeske” was exquisitely sensitive and patient. Feltsman illustrated Schumann’s “Carnaval," a monumental work which demands the greatest technical skill and profound imagination to bring Schumann’s character portraits to life. Each character made an appearance with brilliant bursts of color and a stunning array of personality: vivid, grand, touching.

Monday evening’s performance radiated intimacy - the type of intimacy that few artists manage to bring to the concert hall. Feltsman emitted the sort of aura to be found only within the finest balance of intelligence and human sensitivity, which shone through an encore of Schumann's "Bunte Blรคtter" ("Colored Leaves") - a perfect closure to an evening of truly personal music-making.
Ruta Kuzmickas is a 17 year old pianist and studies with Dr. Jean-David Coen. Ruta has appeared as a soloist on NPR's From the Top and is a recipient of the Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist Award. She was featured by the Aspen Music Festival in a performance at Harris Concert Hall in 2013 alongside distinguished pianist Ann Schein. Ruta is also a two-time winner of MetroArt's Young Artists Debut: The Van Buren Concerto Concert and was named a 2014 Winner by the YoungArts Foundation.

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