Thursday, April 22, 2010

Two concerts

As I've mentioned, I don't attend a lot of concerts, but this past week I went to two.

The first was last Saturday, at An Die Musik in Baltimore. This used to be a "record" store with a nice small performance space on the second floor; the emphasis now seems to be more on the performance space, though the store is still there (selling CDs), along with a reception area in front that also serves as an art gallery. The performers were 10 college students from Penn State who study with Enrico Elisi (here's a link to his student performance web page: Piano Studio Projects), and they played a selection of Chopin's Nocturnes. I found it really enjoyable. There were a few lumps and bumps as well as obvious nerves, but I like hearing performances that are musical but not entirely slick. The piano there is a gorgeous Mason & Hamlin. I generally am not a big fan of this brand, but this one sounds lovely. My favorite player was a young woman named Clare Wang. She had a nice, full sound and played with real assurance.

The second concert was last night, at Strathmore: a recital by the great pianist Mitsuko Uchida. She is a powerhouse in the music world, and deservedly so. She is a real intellect with a strong personality and huge technique. Last night's concert included Mozart K 310 (the A minor sonata) and Schumann's Davidsbundlertanze and Fantasie. The Mozart I'm extremely familiar with, both because I have listened to her recording of it many times and because I've learned it myself. The Schumann pieces are difficult and rather knotty works, full of musical allusions, autobiographical references, and in-jokes. I need to listen to these a lot, I think, to really appreciate them.

But it was a great concert. For each piece, Uchida bounded onto the stage and started playing, not giving the audience any time to rustle their programs (though they did so anyway). That hall is so big that the piano could get lost, but she projected a full sound. The last movement of the Fantasie, in particular, was stunning.

So, lots to think about. So much to learn, so little time.

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