Lucid Culture


Concert Review: David Kalhous Plays Scarlatti, Beethoven, Janacek and Schumann at Bargemusic, Brooklyn NY 2/7/09

Saturday at Bargemusic, Prague-educated pianist David Kalhous delivered a program whose stylistic diversity was matched by its surprises. The two Scarlatti sonatas that opened the program were a study in contrast, major and then minor, both performed with the requisite agile counterpoint. Next on the bill was Beethoven’s Six Variations in F, Op.34, which you know even if you don’t recognize it – it’s been a fixture of dinnertime classical music programming for, well, centuries, if you count parts of two of them. It’s not deep, in fact there’s a smug self-satisfaction to it. But it goes well with wine, and it’s fun to play, and there are passages, particularly the nocturne that opens the suite and then recurs at the end of the final movement where a player can stretch out and even get a little rubato and no one will be the wiser. Kalhous played it like he couldn’t wait to get it over with, metronomic, way too fast, absent any meaningful dynamics. One can only wonder why he chose it in the first place.


By contrast, his take on the three parts of Janacek’s In The Mists was masterful, intense, passionate and spot-on – perhaps he’s a performer who needs something substantial to bring out everything he can deliver. From the only slightly restrained macabre of the opening Andante, through the eerie cascades of the Andantino and then the somewhat mistitled, suspenseful Presto, Kalhous illuminated it with every veiled shade of menace he could conjure. He closed on an only slightly lighter note with Schumann’s Symphonic Etudes, all twelve variations. While these were written as exercises, they build somewhat bitterly and dramatically. And with their constant, insistent, fast staccato passages, they’re not easy to play. Kalhous tackled them with a resoundingly successful, cool confidence. He’s a talent you should see, especially if the program has an edge to it.

February 7, 2009 - Posted by | Live Events, Music, music, concert, New York City, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , ,

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