MIAMI INTERNATIONAL PIANO FESTIVAL
ALEXANDER GAVRYLYUK/ ILYA ITIN/ MISHA DACIC/
LISE DE LA SALLE/ MARTIN STADTFELD/
SEVERIN VON ECKARDSTEIN/ WILLIAM NOLL
(5-9, 10, 11, 12, 13-07)
FESTIVAL SHOWCASES FULL RANGE OF KEYBOARD VIRTUOSITY
By Lawrence Budmen
The music of Sergei Rachmaninoff bookended the Miami International Piano Festival Discovery Series last week at the Lincoln Theater. That composer’s solo keyboard works were on display at Wednesday’s opening three hour marathon.
Rachmaninoff’s 9 Etudes-Tableaux, Op.39 are rarely performed due to their extreme technical demands. Steeped in the brooding melancholia that made the composer Tchaikovsky’s inevitable successor, the etudes are a formidable test of a pianist’s endurance and artistry Russian firebrand Alexander Gavrylyuk, winner of the 2005 Artur Rubinstein International Competition, attacked the pieces with heated passion and manic intensity that did not slight the scores’ more ruminative episodes.
In the introspective Sonata No.2 in B-flat minor, Ilya Itin offered lyrical sensitivity as well as the pianistic firepower to cut loose in tumultuous fortissimos The Moment Musical in B-flat minor was Itin’s supple prelude.
Serbia’s Misha Dacic concluded the evening with a series of sweet treats, most notably a gorgeous version of The Little Island (in a transcription by the legendary Earl Wild) and the witty Polka Italienne (arranged by Arcadi Volodos), a display of keyboard pyrotechnics par excellence.
Dacic launched Sunday’s concluding Rachmaninoff concerto program with a vital traversal of the difficult Concerto No.1 in F-sharp minor, a poetic Andante centered between the incendiary fireworks of the outer movements. Gavrylyuk gave a sensational performance of the Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini. He captured the music’s romantic urgency and dispatched dazzling finger work at rapid speed. Itin displayed idiomatic affinity for the grand gestures of the Concerto No.3 in D minor; highlighted by a rhapsodic, hauntingly beautiful Adagio.
Except for some momentary insecurity, the 56 member Miami International Piano Festival Orchestra played with vigor and aplomb. Conductor William Noll skillfully dovetailed his accompaniments to the soloists’ interpretive predilections.
On Thursday, France’s Lise de la Salle demonstrated rock solid technique and impressive digital dexterity. While her Mozart suffered from mannered phrasing and over use of the pedals, the music of Sergei Prokofiev brought out the fiery side of this gifted artist. She essayed 6 pieces from Romeo and Juliet with dashing speed and imagination, brought spiky astringency to the Sonata No.3, and concluded with a powerhouse version of the Toccata, Op.11 that sizzled with barn burning virtuosity.
Martin Stadtfeld’s recital (on Friday) proved disappointing. Winner of the 2002 Leipzig Bach Competition, Stadtfeld was agile in Bach’s Partitas Nos.5 and 6; yet his cool, modernist approach was devoid of interpretive personality and the scores’ dance movements failed to sparkle. Stadtfeld’s heavy handed performance of Schubert’s Sonata in B-flat Major lacked rhythmic propulsion and singing line.
German born Severin von Eckardstein revealed formidable artistic intellect in a Saturday evening program. Eckardstein’s light, fleet reinvention of Beethoven’s Waldstein Sonata was bracing. In the pensive aura of Janacek’s Sonata I.X. 1915, Eckardstein’s delicate play of light and shade was magical. His imaginative program also included a welcome revival of Medtner’ s impassioned Sonata Tragica and Scriabin’s devilish Sonata No.3, a kaleidoscope of tonal coloration and rubato.