Standard Repertoire and Surprises from Organist Roman Krasnovsky
When the Prism Concert series at Central Synagogue in midtown began a couple of years ago, it was like getting a private performance: there might have been a half-dozen people from the neighborhood there. It’s good to see that the organizers of the twice-monthly midday series have stuck to their guns, because there was a substantial crowd gathered there today to see Israeli organist Roman Krasnovsky play a smart, intuitive mix of standard repertoire and a couple of rewarding original works. He paced Bach’s ebullient Prelude and Fugue in D, BWV 532 casually and steadily, holding back the firepower for when he needed it it. Brahms’ magnificent Prelude and Fugue in D Minor gave him the chance to set that firepower loose through its swells and sustained passages; in between those two, he played Franck’s Prelude, Fugue and Variations with great sensitivity to the melody’s singing quality, especially early on, making sure the warmly inviting motifs lingered.
He closed the program with a couple of fascinating original compositions. The first was variations on a Taiwanese folk song, Spring Wind, that he quickly built from traditional Asian tonalities to a series of acidic close dissonances, alluding to but never reaching a resolution. The piece is a diptych: the second part gave him the chance to leave the 21st century behind and revert to a gentle pastoral ambience. He ended with his own Toccata Domenicale, where he took a rather boisterous, operatically-tinged theme, disguised it a little, toned it down and then gave it a similarly jarring, dissonant quality, pairing notes together when least expected, reaching a considerably more forceful conclusion. It made an impressive introduction to this former student of Aram Kachaturian whose return to composition after a long career as a recitalist is more than welcome.
The next Prism Concert is on March 27 at half past noon at Central Synagogue on Lexington Ave. at 54th St. in Manhattan.