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South Florida Classical Review

23 October 2023

Tetzloff’s fresh, individual Schumann sparks Miami Piano Fest opener

South Florida Classical Review

Three pianists took the stage at the Aventura Arts and Culture Center  on Sunday for the Miami International Piano Festival’s Concerto Night.  The opening program of the organization’s 25th anniversary season was  highlighted by a late substitution and the immensely gifted American  pianist Reed Tetzloff’s bracing performance of Schumann’s Piano Concerto  in A minor.

In 2021 Tetzloff debuted in Miami with an impressive recital for  Kaleidoscope MusArt that displayed his wide-ranging repertoire  affinities from Beethoven to Ives and contemporary scores by Clarence  Barlow and Jonathan Dawe.

The artistic intelligence he brought to that venturesome program was  fully evident in a traversal of the Schumann concerto that was  idiosyncratic in the best sense of the term. Right from the outset of  the opening Allegro affettuoso, Tetzloff molded phrases with elasticity  while never allowing the broader musical pulse to unwind. He drew  crystalline tone from the Steinway and elicited exciting moments of  daredevil bravura. Familiar themes and runs were realized with detailed  vibrance in Tetzloff’s fresh interpretation.

Tetzloff elicited bright textures in the scherzo-like figurations of  the Intermezzo while taking the romantic secondary subject at a more  relaxed pace. The concluding Allegro vivace emerged bold and brisk with  Tetzloff bringing excitement to the score’s final pages. Tetzloff’s  technically immaculate pianism was never a mere vehicle of flashy  display, and resounded with idiomatic verve and joie de vivre in a  thoroughly organic manner.

Conducting a 31-piece ensemble, Hobart Earle, music director of the  Odessa Philharmonic Orchestra, drew well-balanced playing. Earle was a  full collaborator, matching Tetzloff’s imaginative performance that  totally revitalized a familiar masterpiece.

The concert’s first half commenced with a classically refined version  of Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in C Major by Israeli pianist Ariel  Lanyi.

Lanyi reveled in the quirky thematic turns of the first movement. He  chose Beethoven’s most lengthy and ambitious cadenza, imbuing it with a  natural lift, bereft of exaggeration. He took a poetic approach to the  Largo, with playing that was exquisite and nuanced. The final Rondo was  crisp and highly syncopated with an almost improvisatory feeling and the  give-and-take between soloist and orchestra in the coda skillfully  accomplished. After a somewhat unsettled introductory orchestral tutti,  Earle adeptly followed Lanyi’s shaping of musical lines.

Dmitriy Ablogin, originally scheduled to play Mendelssohn’s Concerto  No. 2, was unable to appear due to testing positive for Covid. In his  place, festival veteran Kemal Gekic assayed two scores by Chopin in the  composer’s orchestral iterations. Although more associated with playing  Liszt, Gekic is finely attuned to the Polish composer’s brand of  romantic nostalgia. Although the early Variations on Polish Airs  in A minor is not one of Chopin’s stronger scores, Gekic infused the  melodic figures with grace, exhibiting a surprisingly light touch.

The Andante spianato et Grande Polonaise Brilliante, however,  is prime Chopin. Gekic traced the flourishes of the solo Andante at a  flowing, somewhat faster tempo than usually heard. The polonaise  sparkled, the rhythms perfectly placed and articulated with considerable  elan. With UM Frost School of Music faculty member Scott Flavin as  concertmaster, Earle led a lithe and robust realization of Chopin’s  unfairly maligned orchestral writing.

The program was a fine celebration of the festival’s quarter-century  of introducing talented and promising pianists to South Florida  audiences. But Tetzloff’s revelatory Schumann took the concert to  another level.

The Miami International Piano Festival presents Kenneth Broberg playing Mozart’s Sonata in F Major, Medtner’s Fairy Tales, Chopin’s Polonaise Fantasie in C Major and Schumann’s Fantasie in C Major 5 p.m. November 19 at the Aventura Arts and Culture Center.

By Lawrence Budmen


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