Monday, September 20, 2010

Victor Goldberg Piano Recital

One thing that makes me very nervous when it comes to recitals and concerts is knowing about them barely a week, or worse, just a few days prior to the actual date of the performances themselves. I don't know how I manage to keep my sanity whenever I try to find the time and money to watch such a concert. I do like to know at least two weeks in advance so that I could really iron out everything and be prepared in all aspects.

So I was at my wit's end when I read about the upcoming recital of Russian-Israeli pianist Victor Goldberg at the Philam Life Auditorium barely a week before he performed. And it wasn't easy trying to find information about this performance since promotion was a bit lacking. And the few information that I was able to read ie. his credentials and blurbs about his performances just made me want to watch him the more.

But nonetheless, my resourcefulness kicked in and I was able to make ends meet and I ended up watching him. Unfortunately, most people that I've informed about his performance weren't able to make it since it was really too short a notice. And I guess that this was also the case since the regulars who I usually see watching piano performances weren't present at the concert as well which is quite a shame.

The first time I heard about him at a newspaper column stated that he would perform pieces by Tchaikovsky and Stravinsky. Somehow, this wasn't really the programme that he had in mind for his performance a the Philamlife Auditorium. But that didn't mean that what he played were light weight pieces.

A recital consisting of three sonatas by Mozart, Scriabin and Scarlatti and a Brahms piece is something that could intimidate the usual pianist but Goldberg was master of them all when he performed these pieces.

Again, I say that I am not really a fan of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's work. Sure I listen to them but I do not really jump for joy whenever I see his works being a part of a concert programme. But I was glad nonetheless that Goldberg started with Mozart's Sonata No. 9 in D Major, K. 311. Yes, he played it the way a Mozart piece was to be played, light, clear and playful and this somehow made me appreciate more the next piece which was very much different from Mozart.

This next piece was Alexander Scriabin's Sonata No. 5 in F Sharp Major, Op. 53. It was absolutely sublime and unmistakenly romantic which is what I really like. After this piece was played, I tried to enumerate my pianists friends who weren't present and felt pity on them for not being able to see this performance.

Unfortunately, Goldberg had to go back in time to an era of music that I am not really a huge fan of to start the second half of the program. The recital resumed with Domenico Scarlatti's Sonata in E Major, K. 380 and thankfully it wasn't that long since I was already looking forward to the Brahms that would end the night's programme.

I really like Johannes Brahms works but some aren't still familiar for me. And the Variations and Fugue on a Theme by Handel, Op. 24 is one such unfamiliar piece. Again, Handel's era do not excite me but I was really curious to see how Brahms did his variations based on the theme. And I was really surprised by the sheer talent of Brahms on how he was able to make these variations. The original theme doesn't appeal to me at all but the variations especially the brooding ones I appreciated. And some were technically different and I wondered if I'd ever reach the skill level for me to be able to play that piece. But I guess that that would just remain a dream.

Despite the less than ideal number of people present, they applauded vigorously after the performance and hoped for multiple encores. And Goldberg did three encores with Sergei Rachmaninoff's Musical Moment in E Minor being the first and there's no denying that I absolutely adore Rachmaninoff's music so I was very pleased to have this as his first encore.

And the second encore delighted me more as well since it was Frederic Chopin's Polonaise, Op. 40 which is also known as the Military Polonaise. So I was really happy after this. And then he played a Piotr Tchaikovsky piece which was the October - Autumn Song from The Seasons piece. Thankfully, this soft piece was a change of pace from all the fast, frantic and dizzying pieces that were performed earlier.

After the recital, Goldberg was at the lobby and he gladly signed CD's which he had on sale that night. This has been one of the most impressive solo piano recitals that I've seen this year and it's just a shame that not a lot of people were able to see it. The promotion leading towards this event was limited and the little I saw was too near the performance that it wasn't able to build a certain level of anticipation and excitement.


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