The Classical Music Guide

16 March 2019

Beth Levin and Reed Tetzloff, Pianists
The Greenwich Arts Center Greenwich, Connecticut

The Classical Music Guide

Beth Levin and Reed Tetzloff, Pianists
The Greenwich Arts Center
Greenwich, Connecticut
March 16th, 2019

Handel: Keyboard Suite in D Minor, HWV 428
Beethoven: Sonata in B-Flat Major, Op. 106 ("Hammerklavier")
    iii: Adagio sostenuto
         Ms. Levin

Schubert: Fantasy in F Minor for Piano Four Hands, D. 940   
         Ms. Levin and Mr. Tetzloff    

Liszt/Busoni: Fantasy and Fugue on the Chorale "Ad nos, salutarem undam"
        Mr. Tetzloff

This was an unusual concert, and an opportunity to hear two pianists  whose concerts I enjoyed last summer (and reviewed for the Classical  Music Guide) perform both as soloists, and together. It took place at  the elegant Greenwich Arts Center, and was part of a series called  Pamela Kuhn's Soirees by Moonlight. After the concert Ms. Kuhn  interviewed the artists. Though Mr. Tetzloff is a young musician fast  making a name for himself, and Ms. Levin is an established artist with a  loyal following, they clearly have a mutual admiration society. Indeed,  Ms. Levin, emphasized that she had learned a lot from him. Both are now  managed by Natasha Cherny.

At her recital at Barge Music last summer Ms. Levin played the same  Handel Suite, and, indeed, the entire Hammerklavier, of which she played  only the slow movement this time. The Handel was played in the great  romantic and pianistic tradition, with a big sound and lots of pedal.  One heard brilliant passagework, some high drama, but also beautiful  shadings. Ms. Levin has a reputation as a Beethoven player, having  performed and recorded the last three sonatas, and now the  Hammerklavier, the fourth from the last. (Hmmm..... Just had an idea:  Maybe she will record the entire sonata cycle in reverse order!) Not  surprisingly, one heard the passion for, and the  commitment she has to  this music. And, though there was power, there was also some exquisite  soft playing.

The Schubert Fantasy is one of the great works for piano four hands. I  would like to think that it's rare for a pianist who has at least one  friend who's also a pianist not to have learned, or at least read  through it. It has many moods, and sections. Indeed, it was a pleasure  to hear two artists of this caliber play it. I've always thought of it  as the duo it is, but hearing them, it sounded like a solo performance,  so good was the ensemble. Indeed, they got all those tricky double  dotted rhythms smack together, and the last chord, which is so hard to  get perfectly together, was almost as good. The tempi they chose were  generally straight-forward, and unfussy. There was some lovely,  whimsical playing, and sensitivity to color changes, but also wonderful  clarity, and strength, especially in the later fugal section.

The second half of the program found Mr. Tetzloff playing an almost half  hour long blockbuster which is not known by many people (myself  included). He told us that Liszt's Fantasy and Fugue on the Chorale "Ad  nos, salutarem undam" was Liszt's first work for organ, and that it was  written around the same time he wrote the famous B Minor (Piano) Sonata.  Busoni later transcribed it for piano. It has a motif that comes back  in many guises. There are big, bombastic sections, others that are  recitativo-like, and still others which sound like religious  incantations. Mr. Tetzloff, who never appeared less than comfortably in  control, also demonstrated how beautifully he can shape a melody, as  well as his fine, and subtle control of soft playing. Not surprisingly,  this huge work included a brilliant contrapuntal section, and a last,  triumphant statement of the motif.
Donald Isler

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