After some enviable concerts, David Lamb suggests:
> There must be a number of these magnificent pianists out there
> who do not so often get their names in lights even though they
> are great musicians. Treasure is where you find it.
I suggested in a recent posting a biggish name who was easily able to
disappoint, and agree that the converse can also happen: artists of real
depth are not as scarce as one might be led to think.
One pianist who put on a recital of great moment to me was Artur Ozolins,
who studied under Vlado Perlemuter but may sadly be obscure outside of
Canada as he seems to have little on CD. Last summer I heard him play
a long, rich program that included a Mozart Rondo (not sure which one,
but it cited or prefigured Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, and twice) "to warm
up," as he put it; there was also something from Stravinsky's Pulcinella
and a short piece by Liszt. And these were just the lagniappe! His
several encores and other extras showed that Ozolins was enjoying with
great relish this chance to feast his live audience.
The main program was a concerto for piano and orchestra by Volfgangs
Darzins, a Latvian composer -- like Ozolins himself, who'd transcribed
it for solo piano. I wasn't very fond of it, finding it massive and
overwrought, although perhaps it was a case of pearls at the unworthy.
My companion, no musical dumbell, found much to enjoy.
The recital opened with a suite for piano by Talivadis Kenins that,
despite being totally modern and 100% new to me, struck me by its
coherence; with unknown, 'difficult' music, that's very rare. It was
simply outstanding, and the stellar discovery of the evening.
There were also three pieces by Ravel, including a rather dry Pavane --
with minimal, if any pedalling! -- and the Sonatine, one of my favourite
pieces by this favourite composer. This last was played with great
character, yet with startling muscularity. Not at all how I know the
piece, but a very compelling interpretation.
Ozolins also played La Valse. I hadn't known that Ravel had had Strauss
in mind while composing it, but so we were told. To my ear, Ozolins
drew out the irony of a former admirer who'd come to have misgivings.
His playing showed the French master revelling in but also compelled to
'clean up' Strauss's take on art music, alternating a vestigial fondness
for thick Teutonic textures with his far more 20th-century, spare palate,
and an effervescent Spanish flavour.
Certainly a memorable night. Ozolins deserves far better attention.
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