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by Daniel Hathaway
Cleveland, OH — July 31, 2011
Two Russian pianists simply ran away with Sunday evening’s session at the Cleveland Play House. Mr. Alexey Chernov (28) and Mr. Denis Evstuhin (30), third and fourth in the evening’s lineup, pulled off stunning back-to-back performances which inspired multiple “bravos” from the audience.
Mr. Chernov, who crafted a memorable Mozart Sonata on Thursday evening, wowed us with his interpretation of Schumann’s Symphonic Etudes tonight. The piece has a complicated history and can provide pianists with a real storytelling challenge, but Mr. Chernov made it seem like Schumann’s own Pictures at an Exhibition, so neatly did he frame each of its movements, infusing them with individual character and giving us a moment to admire each of them before moving on to the next. He miraculously achieved dark colors and clear textures at once, expertly layered voices, suspended time now and again, voiced chords dryly but still gave them weight and hue, treated multiple repetitions of chords with individual inflections and spun delicate poetry that Schumann would surely have admired. His sense of pacing was infallable, and when he elasticized the tempo, it was done for expressive purposes. He began with Ligeti’s Automne à Varsovie in a performance so intense he nearly fell off the piano bench at the end. Read the rest of this entry »
by Daniel Hathaway
Cleveland, OH — July 28, 2011
Mr. Pavel Gintov (27, Ukraine) took the risky decision to play a single, long work for his first round: Schumann’s Kreisleriana, op. 16. In many ways, he pulled it off and did so with flair. There were many admirable moments in his interpretation as Schumann’s music moved between stormily dramatic and dreamily lyrical moods, but his sense of pacing sometimes went awry as he moved from section to section (and recapitulated earlier material) and sometimes he didn’t leave the music quite enough space to breathe. There were episodes of sheer power that became left-hand heavy and a few moments when we wondered if Mr. Gintov might push the Hamburg Steinway into the red zone. Read the rest of this entry »