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Two impressive debuts

Glenn Gould Studio
04/21/2012 -  & April 27, 2012 (New York)
Nikolai Medtner: Fairy Tales, Op. 34
Sergei Prokofiev: Sonata No. 4 in C minor, Op. 29
Sergei Rachmaninoff: Six Romances , Op. 38
Modest Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition

Dina Kuznetsova (Soprano), Georgy Tchaidze (Piano)

G. Tchaidze (© Chad Johnston)

Georgy Tchaidze was first laureate at the 2009 Honens International Piano Competition and has been touring of late. This recital at Glenn Gould Studio turned out to be a revelatory showcase for him and for soprano Dina Kuznetsova.

The program opened with the four pieces comprising Nikolai Medtner’s Fairy Tales. Medtner seems to be held in high regard by pianists, although to the general public he straddles two eras in the shadow of world-striding contemporaries. The four tales were nicely contrasted, with the first taking us into unfamiliar territory with feverish juxtapositions. The second one is rapturous, and the third refers to a forest sprite whose playfulness has a desperate edge. The final one, with an old knight’s vision of the Virgin Mary, takes us into ecstatic heights that foretells Olivier Messiaen. Especially at the beginning the work is thick with lower notes, but the pianist maintained a clear treble line throughout.

Composed about the same time as the Medtner (1917), Prokofiev’s Fourth Sonata was written in memory of a friend who had committed suicide some years before. It is thus sombre in mood, especially the opening Allegro molto sostenuto. The Andante takes us into a reverie, and in the final movement rather oddly titled Allegro con brio, ma non leggiero the pianist has to do two things that are usually opposed at the same time. Tchaidze gave a sense of considerable pianistic power being held in careful check.

Opening the second half, Russian-American soprano Dina Kuznetsova gave a grand and soulful performance of Rachmaninoff’s Six Romances, also dating from the same time as the two previous pieces on the program. Here again there are dramatic contrasts between each item - and Mr. Tchaidze proves himself to be a sensitive accompanist throughout. It was a glorious luxury to hear Ms. Kuznetsova in the intimacy of Glenn Gould Studio; she could well be singing lead roles with the Canadian Opera Company - let’s hope for that

As if Georgy Tchaidze hadn’t already demonstrated his prowess in a variety of moods, in Pictures at an Exhibition he absolutely excelled. His initially straightforward, businesslike approach to the first of the five Promenade sections gave little hint of the drama to follow - but the first startling note in the second movement (“The Gnome”) riveted one’s attention to everything to follow. The rapt audience sat breathless as the final crashing note died slowly away. Tchaidze has all the power that one could want for the big moments, but he uses it sparingly (diplomatically almost). He has the unassuming appearance of a schoolboy who is able to spring forth a truly mature interpretation of a challenging piece.

The three delightful encores were Liadov’s playful Music Box, Scriabin’s dreamy Albumblatt, and Bartók’s flippant Sonatine.

This program will be repeated on April 27 at New York’s Zankel Hall.

Toronto will have another chance to experience this exciting new talent next March at the Royal Conservatory when he appears with the Cecilia String Quartet (winners in 2010 at the Banff quartet competition. We look forward to repeat visits thereafter.

Michael Johnson



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